reduce training development time

How to Reduce Training Development Time from 2 Months to 2 Weeks

If you’re wondering how you can reduce training development time in your L&D initiatives, you’re not alone. Creating, developing, designing, publishing, and distributing training courses takes an enormous amount of effort – not to mention all the revisions and input that happen along the way.

Recently Robin DeFelice and Karl Kapp released an update to their study addressing the topic of how long it takes to create an hour of training. While the original study was published in 2009, they recently revised and republished updated findings for 2017. The study contains a lot of relevant data and with Karl being one of the smartest people I know, I see no reason any L&D professional should disagree with his findings.

The study was designed to create a baseline across different types of training and serve as a guide for project planners when giving clients an estimate for training development time. It does not, however, provide any analysis on what goes into training development time and instead, is quite the opposite as they are clear that many factors can influence creation time, including:

  • Who the client is
  • What influence and input the client has
  • Clearly defined roles in the development process (If not, client involvement can lead to project scope creep and an increase in development hours.)
  • What type of authoring tool is being used to develop (Is it up-to-date or antiquated?)
  • Does the training solution involve some sort of technology that requires implementation and partnership with IT?

I wondered: is it possible to quantify the impact on training development time using a more innovative authoring tool?

I have always used a 30-40-30 rule for any project where 30% of my time is spent researching and outlining what I want to accomplish, 40% of my time is spent doing the actual work, and 30% of my time is spent on edits and refinements.  Here is what this scenario might look like for a specific project:

30% of the project time is spent meeting with the business owners, SME’s and other stakeholders to determine the exact needs of the project.

40% of the project time is spent using the authoring tool to create the training.

30% of the project time is spent on revisions with same stakeholders above.

Let’s apply this to Karl and Robin’s findings:

Comparison of Results from Studies

Note that the number of hours for creation increases significantly with the increase in course complexity. I believe that the percentage of time spent in the authoring tool will increase as the level of complexity does. SME’s and business owners are likely to provide the same amount of input and therefore the duty to create more in-depth training lies on the content creator.

If that’s true, let’s assume:

  • 40% of time spent authoring level 1
  • 50% of time for level 2
  • 60% of time for level 3

That means:

  • 16.8 hours in the authoring tool for level 1
  • 35.5 hours for level 2
  • 79.2 hours for level 3.

Interestingly, these conclusions are in line with other articles I found.

Our clients share that the average time to create a mission (our word for a course) is just 8-12 hours, compared to the minimum of 16.8 hours noted above. That is up to a 52% decrease in development time.

A typical mLevel mission consists of 4-6 activities that take 2-5 minutes each for the learner to complete (aka microlearning). Since we expect the average learner will play each activity a few times, a course could take anywhere from 50-75 minutes to complete.

mLevel engagement

mLevel is comprised of many different learning activities, each designed to achieve a different learning outcome. We offer games, quizzes, assessments, study guides, videos and scenario-based tools. Each activity can be customized with unique branding and questions. Some of these activities auto-populate, while some take a few minutes to customize.


mLevel’s templated approach differs from other eLearning tools in that the data is all sourced from one place. We encourage our clients to upload their content in grids (see below).

learning content

If you upload your content in a grid the system can auto-generate questions for you.

auto populate questions

If the creation of the grid is included in the estimates for pre-work, then the time spent in the authoring tool with mLevel does not change based on the level of content to be delivered.

It also means that the ability to update the content inside the training in the future is greatly reduced.

Based on this math, mLevel could save you between 6 and 70 hours of creation time per project.

Creation time with mLevel

One of our largest clients recently shared that by adding mLevel to the mix of tools they use, they can now deliver certain training requests that previously took 2 months to just 2 weeks. After doing this basic analysis, I can understand why.

While Dr. Kapp’s research is accurate and relevant for all L&D professionals, it’s important to also consider the tools used to develop training. If there’s a way you can save up to 70 hours in training development time just by using an innovative tool like mLevel…what are you waiting for?



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5 thoughts on “How to Reduce Training Development Time from 2 Months to 2 Weeks”

  1. Avatar


    Thanks for the insights into the process. It would make sense that shorter, more template driven missions and learning tools would decrease development time. As the industry moves forward, these types of tools and concepts can make L&D departments more responsive and allow for more rapid deployment of content. Thanks for the insights.

  2. Avatar

    As a contractor who manages multiple missions at a time, I’m curious what variables were considered in this report. All things relative I’d agree with these numbers. Is there a study on actual work hours and how it differs from hours “working” the project? The time accounted for clients who fail to adhere to their own timelines, the cost in hours for project management, other variables sourcing, creating, and managing assets all contribute to the overall hours.

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