MRO Magazine

Training Tips

By By Peter Phillips   

Machinery and Equipment Maintenance

Now that our Canadian economy has started to take wings again, budget restraints are easing to allow some spending on CMMS training and other people-development activities. This month, I am going to lay out some important planning tools to...

Now that our Canadian economy has started to take wings again, budget restraints are easing to allow some spending on CMMS training and other people-development activities. This month, I am going to lay out some important planning tools to ensure your training programs go off with as few hiccups as possible.

Most of us have been on training programs that we really enjoyed. If you think about these times, likely the course materials and instructors were organized and everything seemed to flow smoothly. Lets look at how it’s done.

I’ll be honest, we love to deliver training and we want our participants to enjoy, learn and walk away from the training feeling they received everything we promised and more. To accomplish this too, you’ll need to do some up-front preparation. It doesn’t matter if your session is a short two hours or several days, the same attention to detail will make your training successful.

If you are going to be planning training soon, grab a pen and paper and read on.


The first thing to determine is the needs of your participants. You’ll have to assess the problems or issues that exist and how the training will solve them. The program must have objectives and planned outcomes. What do you want the trainees to be able to do at the end of the training? We call this ‘SKA’; what skills, knowledge or attitudes do you want the people to have when they go back to work. 

To have effective objectives, they must be written clearly and concisely. They must be measurable so you can determine if the trainee has successfully completed the program. It’s been my experience that most trainers find writing the course objectives the most difficult part of the course design. However, with practice, you can master writing objectives.

I could create a completely separate article on writing objectives, but in brief, follow these rules.

1. Make objectives short, not wordy.

2. Make them clear and concise.

3. Make them measurable.

4. List what tools and resources will be needed to complete the task.

Once you’ve written the objectives, you can develop a training plan. It will include:

a) The amount of time needed for the training.

b) The training materials and equipment necessary.

c) The size of the training space. 

d) The lesson plan itself; what will you teach and in what order.

e) Location of the training. We prefer to deliver the training off-site, if possible. There are fewer distractions and people can relax a bit more and focus on the training.

Now you need to write a detailed agenda that can be sent to the training candidates. People like to know what to expect. The agenda will include the ‘3 Ws’: What, When and Where.

  • What are the topics to be covered during the session? If it’s longer than a half-day program, break it down into morning and afternoon sessions. If training is more than one day, you need to break out each day.
  • What do you want them to bring? You could include paper and pencils, or examples from their workplace.
  • When and where is the training going to take place? State the dates and the start and finish times. Let them know directions to the training location and mention parking facilities if the location is off-site.

Keep in mind that people have lives outside of work. They may need to make special arrangements for transportation to the training, day care for children or for other activities. That’s why it’s important to send out the agenda at least two weeks ahead of time, so people can plan personal and work activities around the training.

When deciding where to host the training, you’ll need to consider several things. Of course, you want enough space to comfortably seat your participants.

You’ll find the training space and the equipment needed often go hand-in-hand. Do you need audio-visual equipment? How about computers or other training resources? If computers are needed, you will most likely need your IT department to set up the computers and load software. Will a LAN or wi-fi connection be needed to access software and program databases? Answering these questions will certainly help to determine the ideal training location.

If you need assistance from other departments like IT, be sure to give them lots of notice. They may need to book the equipment and the room. Plan plenty of time to set up equipment and load software. I’ve seen many great training programs developed, but then have everything fall totally apart because equipment or software was not ready. Having someone buzzing around the room trying to set up equipment or solve technical problems is very distracting for you and your participants when you’re trying to deliver your lesson plan.

What other resources will you need?

  • What about training materials? If manuals are required, who is going to develop them? Customized manuals are best; they help trainees understand the training and give them reference materials to review when they return to work. I’ve seen training materials used as references months and sometimes years after a course was finished.
  • Will you need examples or other training aids to help demonstrate special sections of your program?
  • Make sure any training aids are available. If you’re using equipment from your plant, it may be unexpectedly needed on the shop floor because a spare is unavailable. Plan ahead.
  • Create a checklist of everything you need for the your training dates, and confirm its availability.

Now we’re getting close to doing the actual training. Check your list and check it twice. If you’re having lunch during the session, will it be supplied or are the people on their own? (Let them know this ahead of time too.) We suggest using the most efficient way possible. Bringing in a lunch for attendees is best. Have a nice, simple lunch, allow adequate time for a break, and then get back to training.

On the training day, get to the facility early to make sure everything is set up the way you planned it and expected it to be. Make sure equipment works, the computers turn on and the software starts up. Make sure you have IT support available to address any unexpected glitches. 

Finally, keep your training focused. The managers paying for the training expect that their money is being well spent.

People are often thrown into a training role. It’s not as easy as it looks. So if you’re training on your CMMS or some other technical concern, remember to plan your training and train your plan. Releasing people from work for poorly planned, ineffective training doesn’t go over well. So plan well, have some fun – and good luck. MRO

Peter Phillips of Trailwalk Holdings, a CMMS consulting and training company based in Nova Scotia, can be reached at 902-798-3601 or by e-mail at

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