Cost-Effective Computer-Based Training


February 1999

Cost-Effective Computer-Based Training


Too often organizations decide to try to “get by” with informal, on-the-job training to save money. However, Judy Lamont explains in KMWorld (January 1999) that in the long run, that decision can cost money-employees take too long to reach productive levels and they may make errors that are expensive to correct.

According to the American Society for Training and Development, training employees accounts for more than $50 billion in direct and indirect expenses. Per employee expenses vary widely, averaging over $1000/year for high-tech to under $200/year for customer service. This expense has prompted companies to look for alternative forms of training. Computer-based training has gained popularity over the years because of its flexibility, reduced learning time, and improved retention of knowledge (61% over printed materials and 42% over seminars and workshops). Although the use of electronic training techniques has doubled in the last year, it currently accounts only for 20% of instructional time.

The Web is an enticing medium for delivery of CBT and is optimal in many situations; for example, when no video or audio content is involved, when frequent updating is required, or when large, geographically dispersed groups must be trained.

Development costs for a CBT can cause sticker shock, with programming rates and media rates upward of $100/hour. In the long run, expenditures will be lower, but facing the upfront costs can be sobering. To efficiently develop a computer-based training program, Lamont offers these strategies:

  • Select only the portion of your existing training that can be effectively presented electronically.
  • Use templates whenever possible to reduce design and programming time and costs.
  • Modularize so that different components can be upgraded independently.
  • Train your content expert to use a development tool to produce a training product.