BlogLearning & Development

How to Scale L&D in a Growing Organization

Terri James
VP of Product

Explore strategies to scale learning and development effectively in a growing organization, leveraging innovative tools and techniques to ensure consistent, impactful training across expanding teams.

Cultivate a Culture of Learning

You have a learning and development program at your company. You emphasized learning and training from the beginning to foster a culture of learning. And it's working!

You're seeing a return on investment and remain committed to learning and development at your organization.

But now your company is growing and it's time to scale your L&D program.

What do you do now? Where do you start?

Scaling a learning program is more than just purchasing more seats for your learning management system (LMS) or adding a couple more courses. Those are important steps, but scaling requires thinking more holistically about your program.

Let's start with a few steps you should take before scaling:

Questions to ask before scaling your learning program

Scaling an L&D program is a lot like growing a company: moving too quickly before you have a solid foundation can add significant time and expense to the project. Building that foundation before you start to scale is worth the time, even if it pushes your scaling plans back a bit.

Whether you're ready to scale right now or you're thinking long-term, there are three questions to ask yourself:

1. Does my company have a culture of learning?

Offering more courses and features is great. More options for learners means you can better meet the needs of your employees. But before you embark on the time-consuming scaling process, ask yourself if your company will take advantage of expanded offerings.

What are your participation and engagement rates like? How satisfied are your employees with your current learning offerings? Do you have active peer learning networks? Have learners requested additional trainings? Are people taking ownership of their learning?

In short, have you established a strong continuous learning culture at your company?

An employee taking a training program at work.

If you're not sure, take a step back and ask if your organization is ready to scale its learning program. You might find that focusing on your current program to improve utilization and engagement makes more sense. On the other hand, if you're confident in the learning culture, you can trust that employees will take advantage of new offerings.

Scaling an L&D program can be time-consuming and incur costs, and a company with a strong learning culture is more likely to see immediate benefits.

Not sure if you have a culture that will support your L&D scaling?

2. Is my learning management system scalable?

Okay, your organization is prepared to scale its learning program. But what about the systems you use to present your training content? Can it handle a wider variety of trainings, new learning tracks, more users, or whatever else you plan on scaling?

If you have scalable LMS infrastructure already in place, you don't have to worry. The system is built to grow with your company. You just need a plan and to understand how to implement the scaling.

If you're using a legacy system, however, you may want to consider adopting a new LMS. If your learning content is housed on a Trello board or in a Google Drive, scaling the program could add a lot of headaches to your learning and development workflow.

Not sure where to start? We'll show you how Continu can scale to your needs with a free demo!

3. Can I easily add training modules?

If scaling your learning program involves adding new content, think carefully about what that process will look like.

Many factors influence the difficulty of adding new content. Are most of your videos an hour long? They might require multiple edits or re-filming to update them with new content. How hard will it be to add content to the middle of a training? If it requires recreating a lot of resources, that'll take time.

The difficulty of adding new content depends partly on the modularity of your existing courses. Highly modular training content is easy to update and rearrange because the individual pieces – LMS courses, videos, PDFs, and other materials – are small. You can update only the ones that need changes and easily move modules to new locations or change their order.

If you thought ahead when you were first designing your training materials and made them modular, congratulations! This process will be easier for you. If you're realizing that it's going to take a lot of effort, don't worry. There are steps you can take to make it easier.

The best strategy here is to modularize your content as much as you can before scaling. Split your materials into smaller chunks and store them in a flexible LMS that supports bite-sized learning, microlearning, or other methods of modular training.

Easily add and rearrange training modules in Continu.

It might seem like a lot of effort to do this before you even start scaling, but once you get to the content portion of that process, you'll appreciate the preparation you've done.

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Steps to scaling your learning (or L&D) program

Whether you've taken the steps above or not, at some point you'll need to start the scaling process. Exactly how you go about that depends on the goals of your L&D program and why you're scaling it.

No matter your goals, though, the five points below will guide you through the most important steps:

1. Clarify L&D responsibilities

Before you start outlining implementation steps, spend some time thinking about who needs to be involved and what their responsibilities will be.

Here are a few roles to think about:

  • Project leader
  • Content leader
  • Content developer(s)
  • LMS tech lead
  • LMS tech team
  • LMS administrator
  • Subject matter experts from other teams

Read the points below to get a better understanding of the issues you'll need to think about, then come back and jot down some notes on who will need to take on these responsibilities.

Roles might change throughout the process, but having a clear idea of who's doing what at the beginning will make the scaling process smoother.

2. Establish goals for scaling

Why are you scaling your L&D program? Do you want it to serve more employees? Offer a wider variety of blended learning approaches? Expand your offerings to include self-directed or microlearning? There are countless reasons to scale your program, but understanding yours will help you stay focused on what matters.

Make a list of your goals for scaling. One to three goals is a good place to start, especially if you've never undertaken a project like this before. Resist the temptation to set goals for every part of your learning program.

3. Develop new content

In many cases, one of the goals of scaling a learning program is to offer an expanded selection of material. That means developing new content and adding it to your learning management system.

Your goals will drive your content development. Are you looking to add detail to an existing training? Create a new course from scratch? Integrate more third-party resources? Look back at your goals and make a plan for what you need to do. This could be the most effort-intensive part of scaling your program, so take time to do it right.

Here are a few things you may want to do to make sure you're developing the right content:

  • Ask learners what they'd like to see more of.
  • Talk to executives about their priorities for the company in the coming years.
  • See what other companies have added to their training programs.
  • Look at your LMS reports to see which courses are most popular or most engaging.
  • Assess which delivery methods (like video, reading, or in-person training) you're relying on and whether you should develop new content for other methods.

These tasks will give you a good idea of which content to expand and the new materials you may want to develop.

Remember that modular content is easiest to scale, and short training modules – often 15 minutes or less – generally make updates and maintenance easier. This is a great time to start exploring things like microlearning and self-directed resources, too.

4. Plan for cross-functional training programs

When establishing an L&D program, the tendency is often to focus on dividing training by departments or teams. And it makes sense – your tech team doesn't need to go through your sales training, for example.

But cross-functional trainings engage learners and foster valuable social learning.

A team of different departments brainstorming during a meeting.

Let's look at the example above about your tech and sales teams. A cross-functional training program might bring these teams together for a course on process improvement (or something similarly team-agnostic). Both teams gain valuable insights into being more efficient, and being in the same room discussing processes might help your employees better understand how other teams – and the company at large – work.

Bringing different teams together is one of the best ways to come up with new and innovative ideas for improving how your company runs. You might not think of training as an effective way to make these connections, but cross-functional courses are a perfect way to foster these ideas.

5. Take advantage of technology to better serve learners

Videos, PDFs, audio files, and live trainings (in-person or remote) are all great ways to share your learning content. But modern technology makes so many more things possible.

For example, you might use a digital microlearning platform to offer bite-sized learning opportunities on your employees' mobile devices so they can get five minutes of training in when they're waiting in line at the DMV. Or use adaptive learning technologies to harness AI and create custom, tailored learning paths on the fly.

You could set up an integration with LinkedIn Learning or Udemy to offer thousands of training opportunities to your employees (we support these integrations in Continu, by the way). You can even gamify your learning to make it more fun.

New technologies are constantly being developed to create better learning experiences. If you can think of something that would help your learners, you can probably find an LMS that will let you do it.

If you're not sure what kinds of advanced training technologies are out there or how they might help your organization, feel free to reach out to one of our customer service reps and they'll talk you through some of the options!

Spend time early to make for smooth scaling

Yes, that's a lot of planning – especially if your original plan was just to buy more LMS licenses and add a course or two.

But just like creating a learning and development strategy, spending the time upfront to create a solid scaling plan will pay dividends long into the future. Setting goals ahead of time will help you direct your efforts to where they have maximum impact. And going through the implementation process one step at a time will minimize the confusion and problems you have to deal with while you're scaling.

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About the Author
Terri James, VP of Product at Continu
Terri James
VP of Product

Terri is the VP of Product at Continu, a modern Learning Management System built to help companies train employees, customers and partners using one platform. For over a decade, Terri has led Continu as a product and is passionate about helping companies build a culture of learning.

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