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Creating a Business Plan for Learning & Development (L&D)

Creating a Business Plan for Learning & Development (L&D)

By Dave Vance

One of the toughest challenges faced by an L&D manager is coming up with a learning plan for the coming year.

First, the manager must ensure that learning is supporting the most important business goals of the organization, like increasing sales and productivity.

Second, there undoubtedly will be some HR goals like employee engagement and leadership development which require learning.

Third, employees will have development needs apart from the learning that is required to support business and HR goals. They may want to improve their basics skills, enhance their capability to better position themselves for a new job or promotion, or simply expand their horizons – all of which will contribute directly to higher employee engagement and may contribute indirectly to achieving the business goals.

So, the L&D manager has to allocate limited budget and staff among these competing priorities and at the same time make a number of other decisions about which type of learning to use (instructor-led, e-learning, virtual ILT, simulation, performance support, or informal), the duration of any recommended formal learning, and the sequencing of learning development and delivery though out the year. And, if that were not enough, decisions must also be made about what work should be done internally and what is best outsourced.

The Center for Talent Reporting, a nonprofit dedicated to the improvement of measurement, reporting and management of human capital is offering a computer-based simulation at its February 24-26 Conference which addresses just these challenges.

The simulation puts participants in the role of a Chief Learning Officer or VP of Training for a day where they have to align learning to business and HR goals, choose programs (including performance support and simulations) and durations, and manage the mix between aligned and unaligned learning to accomplish as many of the company’s goals as possible. (Unaligned learning is the employee –directed learning which does not directly support business goals.)  The simulation is great fun and provides excellent insight into the role of a training leader. As far as we know, it is the only simulation in the learning field for learning managers.

The simulation is run in two rounds.

The first round is the creation of the business plan for learning. You are provided with the goals of the company and the L&D department along with ten programs (which may or may not support the goals of the company). You have to decide which programs to include in the business plan for learning, the type or modality of learning for each (ILT, e-learning, simulation or performance support), and the duration of each. Information about the target audiences and the effectiveness of each program/type/duration is provided. You have limited staff and a limited budget, so what will you choose?

The second round of the simulation takes place midyear. In this round you have more programs, especially the unaligned learning which is self-directed. You have results for the first six months and, just as in the real world, some programs are doing just what you hoped while others are not performing to plan.

You will not receive any additional staff or budget, so what will you choose to do and why?

Will you re-allocate resources to “fix” the under-performing programs even though that means taking resources away from other planned programs?

What would your CEO want you to do? You will work in a team for both rounds and share your results at the conclusion of each round.

You can experience this simulation called “CLO for a Day” at the Center for Talent Reporting Conference in Dallas February 24-26. Check it out at and learn more about the Center at  The week also includes these others events, all geared to helping you better measure, report, and manage L&D:

  • Talent Development Reporting Principles (TDRP) Basics Workshop – February 22-23
  • Third Annual CTR Conference- February 24-25 noon
  • CLO for a Day Simulation – February 25 1pm-4pm
  • Strategic alignment Workshop – February 26 8am-noon

Dave Vance is the Executive Director at the Center for Talent Reporting.The Center for Talent Reporting is a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing and implementing internal reporting standards and management practices for HR. The goal is to run HR more like a business to achieve greater bottom line impact and to help HR professionals become valued business partners.

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