ADDIE Analysis in the Workplace

Real World Choices

If your company has an immediate training need, it's tempting to skip over the training needs analysis phase and just start writing the actual training materials. You could save production time, but will you actually save money? Many companies wrestle with this question, because they want to make the right choice.

In this article, ILLAFTrain looks at the ADDIE analysis phase from a real-world perspective. We offer some insights into the general risks, benefits, and tradeoffs involved when you reduce or omit the analysis phase. We can't make this decision for you, but we can help you ask intelligent questions that can lead to the right choice for your project and your company.

The Tough Questions

If you're thinking about reducing the scope of your project's training needs analysis, here are some questions that will help you assess your level of risk:

  • What might happen if our company skips over the ADDIE analysis phase and starts creating course content?
  • How will the course's quality (and results) be affected?
  • How much development could the company save?
  • If we discover something later on and have to fix it, will it take more time or cost more in the long run?
    In many ways, your choice will be an economic one. If you choose speed over quality, you want to make sure that you're not stepping over dollars to pick up dimes.

Analysis and Quality Assurance

The ADDIE analysis phase serves as a formal planning and quality assurance process. It defines the project's objectives using the language of instructional design, and it validates that the course will meet the company's needs and the learners' needs. If you don't perform the needs analysis, you will increase the project's risk.

In many ways, a training project is very similar to a software development project. If you were leading a software project, you could start the project by asking engineers to analyze the project's needs and plan the application. However, you could also start the project by asking programmers to start writing code. If the programmers write code without a plan and a clear goal, they're likely to produce a software application that doesn't quite do what it needs to do. The code may also have a lot of bugs that may not be discovered until late in the development cycle or even post-launch.

In the software industry, one standard metric states that QA planning and review activities produce a 10:1 return on investment. It's less costly to prevent software bugs through planning than by fixing them line by line in the code. The same principle applies to training projects. If you can identify mistaken assumptions during the assessment phase, it'll be easier and less expensive to correct them. If you wait until the training materials have been written, it'll be more expensive to go back and make changes.

Timeliness vs. Quality

Sometimes, a company has to choose between getting the training project done (timeliness) and getting the training project right (quality). Here are some reasons that companies make their choices:

Reasons to Choose Timeliness Reasons to Choose Quality
  • The project will make only slight modifications to an existing, well-written course
  • Course will be entirely new
  • The company's business needs indicate that it's better to deliver a partial training solution on time than miss the deadline
  • Business goals are unclear or have changed
  • Course is a one-shot event for a very small group of learners
  • The training program must achieve measurable results
  • Course covers compliance issues or critical business processes
  • Course will be used for a long period of time or delivered to a large audience
  • An existing course will be rewritten for a new learning audience with different needs

Although some companies try to save time by skipping the needs analysis, they may not save time overall. Unanswered questions from the analysis phase can bring the design and development process to a complete halt.

Some Potential Risks

Here are some of the risks that your company would face if you reduce or omit the steps in the training needs analysis phase.

If You Skip This Step . . . . . . Here Are Some Possible Risks
  • Training specialists may not know about (or use) important information when designing the course.
  • Training specialists might not talk to the right subject matter experts.
Business Goals
  • The course may not be written to suport the business' goals.
  • It may be difficult to measure the course's effectiveness or results.
Learner Analysis
  • If the course content is too easy for learners, they may become bored.
  • If the course content is too difficult for learners, they may become frustrated.
Instructional Analysis
  • The course may omit critical steps and information.
  • The course may become bogged down with less-important information.
Learning Objectives
  • The project omits a major QA checkpoint that allows you to review and confirm the course's objectives.
  • Mistaken assumptions may not be caught until much later in the project.
  • These mistakes may be more costly to correct.

These aren't the only risks, but they are risks that companies commonly encounter. ILLAFTrain's training specialists can advise you about the risks relevant to your specific project.

A Risk-based Scenario

Imagine that a pharmaceutical company creates a training program for newly-hired account managers. However, time is short, and the company decides not to perform a training needs analysis. The instructional designer creates the course with the assumption that the new account managers will have some previous experience in the pharamaceutical industry.
The course doesn't explain important industry jargon and terms. However, the company's management chooses to hire experienced account managers who don't have experience with pharmaceuticals. When the company discovers this problem, the training specialist must redesign the training at the proper level for their learners.
Although the company saved some time and money by skipping the analysis phase, they lost money because the program needed to be reworked to fit the learners' needs. Thus, the company would be under more time constraints to get the redesign done before launch. With redesigns, it doesn't take long to add up to the point where the analysis phase might have comparatively cost dimes and the redesigns and patches cost dollars.