Training Excellence doesn’t come from nowhere. Since 2005, CFE has been working to understand, articulate and apply best practice in training delivery. To that end, we’ve worked with hundreds of employers - large and small - and hundreds of training organisations, to understand the experience of training from all perspectives, and get to grips with what makes it a success. From 2006 we worked with Government to apply this emerging understanding through an assessed improvement framework, the Training Quality Standard.
After five years and over three hundred assessed organisations, we’ve developed Training Excellence to carry the same ambitions and aspirations forward, but with a better approach - and also one more suited to the changed times we now live in. We know many of those coming to Training Excellence for the first time will want to know what’s different, and what they have to gain by finding out.
First, let’s look at what’s the same:
- It’s all about impact: asking training organisations to demonstrate their performance in terms of their impact on customer needs was always a critical stretch factor in TQS. In Training Excellence, we’ve kept this emphasis, and even worked it through more of the framework. Training that doesn’t deliver significant and sustainable benefits can’t be the foundation of an Excellent Training Organisation.
- It’s a holistic model: even more than with TQS, Training Excellence takes the view that sustainable high performance is not achieved in parts - it requires an integrated, comprehensive approach to managing and developing operations.
- It’s a vision of perfection: with TQS, we designed a framework that could never be a ticklist - it offered an ideal against which all training organisations would have room to improve. Training Excellence retains that perfectionist spirit - in fact, it’s a lot more stretching now, not only in terms of content, but also assessment.
Now, in terms of what’s different. Within those high principles we’ve kept, we went back to the data and started again. On the specifics, Training Excellence has been developed from scratch - learning from our experience with TQS, but also adding in new insights. Particularly important new features are:
- 5 Principles of Training Excellence: refreshing the evidence base with years of new learning on training organisation best practice and customers’ business needs, our first task was to formulate the 5 Principles as a substantive core for Training Excellence. Much more than with TQS, Training Excellence reflects a deep understanding of the fundamentals driving sustainable high performance - the Principles provide a valuable additional lens in thinking about improvement.
- More about strategy: in TQS, Strategy was covered as context, and not scored in assessment. Now it’s covered in much greater depth as one of three Capability criteria - and in itself accounting for 250 out of the 1000 points assessed. Our experience with TQS was that many training organisations’ operations lack focus because theri strategy needs development - so we need to cover it.
- New assessment methodology: our experience from TQS was that a more robust assessment methodology, with more concrete definitions, could make the framework a much more powerful tool. For that reason, we’ve developed the IDEAL Maturity Framework as a methodology that is more probing - asking, for example, that a training organisation demonstrates how it improves on every indicator - but also more clearly measured and understood.
- More fluid, improvement-driven assessment model: as an independent scheme, we can have a more flexible line between our role in objective assessment and providing value-adding improvement advice. We’ve recast the assessment experience to allow for this - but we’ve also added two new levels of assessment, to reflect the fact that different training organisations start at different positions. Our entry level assessment product, the Organisation Healthcheck, is a short, sharp challenge that helps you to identify your readiness for assessment and improvement and currently costs just £750+VAT.
- Less emphasis on the application, more on the visit: TQS had a very document-heavy assessment model, with a comprehensive application needed before assessment. Under Training Excellence, we’ve recast the assessment model to focus more on our discussions with you, and an application which only needs to cover the organisation’s context and the results it achieves. Because it’s background only, we can now help you to put that together, if that’s the way you prefer to approach your assessment.
Most of all though, the changes reflect the experiences relayed to us by training organisations working with TQS. They told that they liked its challenging, no-stones-unturned approach. They told us that they welcomed the opportunity for independent scrutiny. But they also told us that they wanted it to be easier to engage, and be more adaptable to where they are as a business. Cutting bureaucracy, cutting layers of cost - these were all quick wins in designing Training Excellence as a new, independent model
What really makes the difference though is in being able to now offer an assessment experience which is crafted specifically to offer insights on where to go next. The Training Excellence improvement framework and our IDEAL Maturity Framework offer much greater precision in highlighting improvement issues. Alongside them, the different assessment routes and the greater emphasis on helping training organisations to move beyond diagnosis and into action make for a much more complete, comprehensive experience.
If you’d like to find out more about Training Excellence, there’s plenty of material here on the website, and the book with the full model is in available for £20. Otherwise: drop us a line - we’d love to hear from you and talk through how Training Excellence might work for you.