Join Jeff Toister for an in-depth discussion in this video Setting project objectives, part of Instructional Design Essentials: Needs Analysis.
Setting project objectives is a critical step. Once they're established, you can use these objectives as a guide throughout the rest of your needs analysis. Really good project objectives are connected to organizational goals. Let's say you've been asked to create a training program on running effective meetings. The project objective might be to give some people meeting management tips. But why is the project really important. If successful, it could help participants run shorter, more effective meetings that result in getting more work done.
A training project that provides new skills is good, but a project that leads to a better job performance is great. When you have your initial meeting with project sponsors, you can uncover their objectives and tie them to organization goals by using a set of probing questions. I've supplied a set of sample project sponsor interview questions that can be found in the exercise files. The questions are based on the training impact map. That was developed by Robert Brinkerhauf. The worksheet also includes references to some of his books.
Here are the questions. Question one. Why is the project important? This will help you uncover the business need that's driving the project. Question two, how will we know if this project is successful? You can use this question to establish project objectives that are tied to organizational goals. Question three. What do we need people to do to achieve the project goals? This uncovers the behaviors and actions necessary to achieve the project objectives.
Question four. What factors besides training might impact performance? Training doesn't happen in a vacuum there are other factors that might contribute to the success of any project. Your sponsor can help you identify some of these factors upfront. Now that we have the project objective questions, let's go back to our interviewing skills training example. I've just started my meeting with Stacy Jones, the Regional Vice President, who requested the training. Let's look in and see what we can learn about the project. So Stacy, can you tell me a little bit about why this project is important? >> Well, it's really two reasons.
The first one you know about human resources are rolling out a new interviewing procedure that is supposed to be used across all applicants. Well my supervisors do a lot of the hiring. So they really need to know how it works. The second reason is there really are a lot of bad hires. We're using a lot of people within 90 days of them joining the company. Well it costs us $5000 to hire and train a new employee, so that's costing the company a lot of money. >> Okay, I can see why you want to do the training. So how will you know if this project is successful? >> Well, also Jeff, the supervisors need to be using the process.
I mean I got a sneak peek at it last week, I think it's great. But I also want to reduce the turnover for new employees in my region that are within the first 90 days. >> What, what's the turnover rate now? >> Right now, it's 30% of employees within that first 90 days. So, I've been set a target by my boss that within 12 months I can reduce that to 15%. It's where we used to be before we started expanding so rapidly. >> Okay, so, obviously they need to follow the new procedures, but what else do people need to be doing to achieve the project goals? >> Well, they need to be taking time to make better hiring decisions.
Right now, it feels like they'll just, you know, hire anybody. So they need to be taking time to find the right person who's a fit for the job. >> Okay, and now besides training, are there any other factors that might influence these supervisors' ability to make a good hiring decision? >> Well, I do wonder whether it's really a problem for our new supervisors. We've been promoting a lot of people recently, I don't know really whether they have the same skills as our more experienced supervisors. I also don't know how they're going to react to the new procedure. I love it, but they need to love it too if they're going to use it consistently.
And the supervisors, they're under a lot of pressure to produce, so I don't know if they spend enough time on the hiring procedure. So we've got this great new higher training program, it's no good if they're hiring the wrong people. >> We learned a lot about this project in just a few minutes with Stacy. Let's look at the information we've gathered so far. Business goals, reduce new hire turnover from 30% to 15% within 12 months. Project objectives. Supervisors must be proficient with the new interview process.
Key questions. Is there a difference between new and experienced supervisors? How can we ensure there's buy-in to the new interviewing procedure? How can we get supervisors to spend enough time on hiring good employees? This list is just a starting point. But this will help us focus our needs analysis. You can try this with your own needs analysis project by downloading the sample questions worksheet in the Exercise Files, and using it to guide a meeting with your project sponsor.
- Setting project objectives
- Identifying the target audience for training
- Selecting data sources
- Facilitating focus groups and interviews
- Designing effective surveys
- Identifying participant needs
- Defining learning outcomes
- Presenting results to project sponsors