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How to do a TNA for existing content

Holidays are just great. Food-related holidays are even greater, especially when there is a gifted cook in the family who can prepare an amazing feast. Usually a lot gets fried, boiled, steamed, creamed or baked. Mash potatoes for starch lovers, steaks and schnitzels for meat enthusiasts, salads and healthy sides for those who are not yet best friends with their cholesterol. Having everything on the table from appetizers to pies and puddings gives everyone a nice feeling of wealth and choice.

Yet once the festive event comes to a close there are a lot of leftovers crowded in the fridge. They are still nice the day after the big meal but then it pretty much begins to be a drag to try and finish it all so it does not go to waste. Then if they are kept for long enough, the nutritious value plummets and they can even become a health hazard.

Quantity does not equal quality

This sort of ‘full fridge that is not really doing anything for anybody’ situation happens a lot where corporate learning is concerned. The L&D department keeps designing and buying programs that may have had their share of freshness, taste and utility at one point but end up moving forward solely out of inertia.

It may seem that having piles and piles of modules, courses and workshop outlines means that there is a varied range of learning material that addresses a lot of employees in different departments and locations but ultimately it can be just stale chow. That’s why every so often it’s good to take a good look at the entire database and figure out what is still of value and what has to go.

It’s customary to run a TNA (Training Needs Analysis) when a learning intervention is required but conducting one on existing content is also greatly beneficial.

A close scrutiny of all items

The first thing to do is making a comprehensive inventory – like taking everything out of the refrigerator and placing it on a table for close inspection. Even if it’s clear that more recent programs are still very useful, they should be the subject of scrutiny just as all the others.

Most LMS programs have good reporting functions so it should prove fairly easy to make the list. Then the time-consuming job begins – running every item through a series of questions to determine what still has value and what needs to go. There are a few ‘must-asks’:

  • What was the original need that the module was designed for?
  • Why is it still being offered?
  • What KPIs have been improved by this module?
  • Have company objectives changed in the meantime so those KPIs are no longer so important?
  • Are there any business goals that could be supported by that training?
  • What are the costs of continuing or discontinuing the training?
  • Is there an important stakeholder sponsoring the program?
  • Are there still requests for this module?

Deciding what stays and what goes

Once this minute investigation is done, it is time to decide and write the proposals of either continuation of discontinuation. Every decisions will need to be documented with the important findings of the previous analysis.

If there was not enough information about the impact in individual KPIs and business results it’s safest to pull that particular module out of the curriculum. If, on the other hand, there is a strong indication (in numbers) that it brings added value to the organization the vote ought to go towards going on with it and even expanding it to other departments.

Any recommendation should be done with the consensus of responsible managers as well as with a clear proposal about where the resources will be reallocated. It’s a good thing to empty the refrigerator once in a while but the whole point is to fill it back up with good, quality food not to leave it empty.

Make-overs may be required

Of course there are instances where some of the food can be re-used to make something yummy – stale bread can be turned into really delicious pudding. It works the same for training modules – they can be refreshed. If that’s the case, aspects to be taken into consideration are:

  • The instructional material and media (it most probably will need to be compatible with the newest technologies)
  • The content (add the latest findings in the field, add some media)
  • The marketing strategy – the word needs to get out in order for people to get engaged in the program
  • The assessment


Just like every family has different culinary preferences for the holiday meals, every business has its particularities that will affect training needs and curriculum. Regardless, running a thorough analysis to take out the redundant and freshen-up what still works is a good way to keep training relevant and important for the organization.