What Document was That?


Have you ever noticed how much of your work as a trainer is tied up in paperwork? It seems like that old saying about “the job isn’t finished till the paperwork is done” was made up for trainers. Everything we do has to be documented before the fact, during the training and after the fact.

Keeping track of all that documentation can be a nightmare. What makes it even worse, is that any good trainer takes seriously the idea of continuous improvement. So, our documents don’t stay the same, they keep evolving over the years. Every time we give some training, we’re looking at how to improve our presentation, improve our student handouts, improve our practical exercises, and improve our documentation. Just trying to keep up with what version is the latest can become another nightmare.

Version control is as important as document control. That’s why every RTO needs somebody who is in charge of documentation; a documentation clerk, if you will. It doesn’t matter if the RTO only has one trainer; it still needs the same level of documentation tracking and control as a RTO that has 50 trainers.

This isn’t just a regulatory requirement for RTOs, it’s a practical one as well. We invest countless hours in producing the training products we use. That makes them valuable. Just like any other valuable tool, they need to be taken care of. As company assets, they need to be tracked, so that we know what we have, where it is, and what condition it is in.

There’s another aspect of this as well. Well organized documentation saves time and money. While it may seem like we spend time organizing it, we save much more time in retrieving it, when we need to use it.

Let’s say that you get a sudden call to give a training session at a client company, which you haven’t given for two years. You go to your documentation clerk and ask for the package for such-and-such a training session. If your documentation is well organized, the clerk can find everything you’ll need to deliver that training in a matter of minutes and deliver it to you. All you have to do is review the materials, have someone make copies of the handouts, and you’re ready to go.

On the other hand, if you don’t have well organized documentation, the clerk comes back to you with a partial package, saying, “this is all I’ve got, you didn’t give me the rest.” Now you’ve got a problem. It’s been two years since you gave that training, and you don’t remember it all that well. You’ve got some information, but you don’t have your audio-video presentation. Or you have the audio-video, but not the practical exercises. You’ve got to re-create what’s missing.

Doing things over is never fun. Even worse, doing things over is almost always like throwing money down the toilet. The time you spend doing work that you’ve already done before, is time that you don’t have available to do other things that you need to.

If that training package is all in order, the extra training session is a boon. You are able to provide the training and get paid for it, with little preparation. That’s highly profitable training. But, if that information is missing, what should have been profitable suddenly becomes a ball and chain around your neck. You have to do the work, knowing that you’re not going to make a profit on the training, because of all the extra time you have to spend.

Take my word for it. Organizing your documentation is worth the effort. You can do it the first time, and make your time more valuable and your work more profitable. Or, you can ignore what I am saying and learn the lesson the hard way. The choice is yours.