Does your organization manage live, virtual or hybrid learning with lots of spreadsheets and manual administration? If so, this Training Orchestra review is for you!
Training Orchestra is a 20-year old organization focused on helping organizations manage the thankless and costly backend complexity of their training operations. They do this with a Training Resource Management System (TRMS) that serves more than 600 clients in dozens of countries around the world, including learning and development departments, training companies, associations and businesses serving their extended enterprise.
What’s the difference between a TRMS and a Training Management System? Nothing. It’s just a more descriptive acronym.
Twenty years ago, LMSs pivoted to eLearning and stopped investing in improving instructor-led training (ILT) management. The founders of Training Orchestra observed that training organizations had a patchwork of methods for managing training resources, and no single way to tie ILT to profit. ILT, whether in-person or virtual (VILT), is still the predominant way organizations deliver training, yet many rely on combinations of spreadsheets, Outlook Calendar or other disparate tools that create reporting silos and hinder collaboration, efficiency and automation.
The Training Orchestra TRMS helps organizations solve these problems and optimize session/instructor scheduling and training resource allocation, such as facilities, buildings, rooms, equipment, pre and post materials, online rooms, flight simulators – anything. Customers see improved financial performance through increased productivity.
At the same time, Training Orchestra helps facilitate collaboration with instructors and subject matter experts by cutting down on email, phone calls and time-consuming efforts to engage the instructors. It’s important to understand that Training Orchestra is not an LMS, but complements an LMS by optimizing all the back-end aspects of instructor-led training.
For example, an IT training company might need to schedule dozens or hundreds of live courses, in many locations, with multiple classrooms that need pre-configured workstations, along with multiple qualified employee and external SME instructors for each multi-day session. Furthermore, they need to do this in multiple countries and languages while integrating with an eCommerce, CRM, analytics and single sign on ecosystem.
Training Orchestra can manage all this, maximize utilization rates of instructors, training locations and administrations – and make it easy. Very few, if any, LMSs can. We’ll explore this more in our Training Orchestra review below.
Training Orchestra TRMS Solution/Products
The ILT/VILT Training Scheduling System is the core product for streamlining and automating training operations, integrating with other learning stack products, providing reporting, and monitoring performance and budget.
Another important part of the product is the Instructor Engagement Portal. This is where instructors can collaborate directly with the organization’s training coordinators. The portal gives instructors the ability to manage their schedules, send and receive communications and complete assigned tasks. The portal also allows training coordinators to filter, search and select qualified instructors.
Additionally, Training Orchestra offers specialized modules for those organizations in the training business. These modules provide an extra layer of functionality for training businesses to manage complex logistics for multiple clients and roll up profitability. There’s also a client portal for those training customers.
See more information about Training Orchestra in the Talented Learning Center
The Training Orchestra TRMS is geared toward organizations who manage a broad range of training initiatives, both internally and externally, public and private, and who need to coordinate multiple instructors and resources.
While it’s overkill for smaller organizations who are able to manage a few classes per week in their LMS, Excel or Outlook, it can dramatically simplify training logistics for those organizations with hundreds or thousands of classes and instructors.
Product and Technical Strengths
Training Orchestra is positioned as a back-office system that complements the learning stack. It’s meant to help solve the complex logistical challenges faced by organizations who may be balancing resources across multiple audiences and need a single location for coordination and scheduling.
The company also aims to reduce the friction of attracting and retaining qualified instructors by making it easy for instructors to communicate with the organization. Finally, the goal of Training Orchestra is to increase visibility into the costs and ROI of ILT/VILT.
Scheduling and resource allocation
The backbone of Training Orchestra is its scheduling capabilities, and the flexibility of viewing and drilling into the different aspects of a course, such as resource allocations. The typical user who schedules courses has the ability to quickly create a new course, then select from available rooms, instructors and equipment.
Using intuitive color coding, the dashboard displays whether the course is fully scheduled or in draft mode, and can display other configurable statuses as well, such as whether the session made or lost money. The user also sees alerts for scheduling conflicts, or if a class is in jeopardy, such as if there’s no instructor assigned and the date is approaching.
The system makes the distinction between sessions and sequences, such as when a particular course takes place over consecutive or non-consecutive days. The graphical training schedule shows whether the entire session is ready to go, or whether only certain sequences are. This view is highly configurable and can show expanded or compressed date ranges. The interface is built on drag and drop principles, so it’s easy to move sessions or sequences and have everything on the back-end change accordingly.
The scheduler has the option of selecting the currency that the system uses to track the costs and revenue from the course, and it automatically performs currency conversions – even if some resources or instructors are billed in a different currency. Time zone conversions are also accounted for automatically.
Another view centers around resource allocation. The allocation schedule allows the user to quickly find and assign the best available resources, including instructors. One-click assignment updates everything on the back end, such as the class agenda and calendar invitations.
Training coordinators and instructors share a portal that allows direct communication. From within the portal, a training coordinator can search among available instructors for those with specific skills or subject matter expertise. They can also post available opportunities and let instructors respond.
The Training Orchestra system contains the skills, expertise, locations and rates of the instructors. It will automatically retrieve all associated instructor costs and show least-cost options in the selected currency.
From the instructor’s perspective, they use the portal to coordinate and centralize their training commitments and respond to various tasks and requests. This dramatically cuts down on email traffic and keeps a record of interactions.
Each session and its sequences generally have multiple associated tasks that must be completed to ensure it goes without a hitch. The Milestones area is a task management system that helps with workflow and provides visibility into the tasks remaining using color-coded indicators. There is also the ability to batch tasks for bulk execution, such as sending documents, calendar invitations or confirmations.
Training Orchestra features built-in reports that don’t require the user to be versed in business intelligence. It includes reports on resource allocation, productive activity of instructors, course profit (or loss) and more. Each report can also be exported to Excel, complete with graphs and charts.
Training Orchestra offers two professional services options to its clients. One is a quick-start methodology where clients of any size can be deployed within one to two weeks. In this option, the client receives basic system setup and training.
The second option is higher-touch and takes two to three months. It’s a more workshop-based approach where Training Orchestra helps the client map its resource management processes to the system. The company helps the client understand its resource management objectives and then prioritize the implementation and configuration activities.
Of course, ongoing customer support is also offered.
Opportunities for Improvement
In this Training Orchestra review, we note that the product integrates with and augments many of the global LMSs including Cornerstone, SumTotal and SAP, but most integrations with the next tier are custom. An opportunity for improvement would be the addition of productized integrations with more of the 2021 Talented Learning Top 40 learning systems.
Training Orchestra is about simplifying, streamlining and automating all the activities that go into running an effective training program – from scheduling, to resource allocation, to reporting. It’s complementary to an LMS, but mandatory for organizations that have big ILT components. The product pays for itself and then some by providing a measurable impact on training profitability. What’s not to like about that? Thanks for taking the time to read our Training Orchestra review.
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John Leh is CEO and Lead Analyst at Talented Learning and the Talented Learning Center. John is a fiercely independent consultant, blogger, podcaster, speaker and educator who helps organizations select and implement learning technology strategies, primarily for extended enterprise applications. His advice is based upon more than 25+years of learning-tech industry experience, serving as a trusted LMS selection and sales adviser to hundreds of learning organizations with a total technology spend of more than $100+ million and growing. John would love to connect with you on Twitter or on LinkedIn.
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