Meeting Leadership-Ask A Business Expert

How Do I Create An Online Training Program?

Is your organization ready to produce an online training program, but you don’t know where to start, or who to hire?

Have you already started and now you don’t know how to finish the job?

Did enough people actually complete the last course you produced?

If you are a small business, non-profit or corporate leader who wants answers to these questions, then read on.

Online training programs help employees learn new skills. They include include easy-to-follow videos and written materials. They also have short quizzes and exams that employees must complete to ensure that they have understood the material, and can apply it to their jobs. To produce an online training program you will need a project manager, subject matter experts, and technical writers. You will also need a a proper budget that accounts for all of the immediate and long term costs.

An effective online training program has many benefits including:

  • Helping your employees to perform at a higher level
  • Helping your employees to gain confidence
  • Helping to grow the overall productivity and profitability of your company

With that in mind, in this article you’ll get an introduction to the:

Online Course Creation 5-Step System 

  1. Plan – Learn how to build an online learning strategy and a practical plan
  2. Prove – Learn how to validate your course concept with a ‘Proof of Concept’
  3. Promote – Learn how to effectively market your online course
  4. Produce – Learn how to build highly engaging online courses
  5. Perform – Learn how to measure results and standardize the process

This structured approach will help you to improve the overall success of your online training program.

The Online Course Creation Workshop

A professional development workshop for leaders who want to build highly effective online training programs.

Step 1: Plan

If you want your online training program to be successful, then you need to develop a practical plan for execution.

If you skip this step then you will run into these common problems.

  • Employees who were asked to help develop the course wont’ have enough time – and then they’ll get mad because they now have an extra project on top of their regular job
  • Your budget may not be too small – because many leaders budget for the actual cost of producing the online course – but the forget to set aside funds for promotion and maintenance costs. So not enough employees end up actually taking the course – and when technical problems come up, there is nobody assigned to fix them

Review Your Strategy

The first thing to do as you get ready to produce an online training program is to review your overall strategy.

What is your company vision? Mission? Values?

What are your most important goals?

For example, if one of your main goals is to build a company where employees love to work, then you know that any investment in online training will be worthwhile.

Develop A Practical Plan

Once you have a solid understanding about which parts of your organization strategy that your new online course will support, then you can develop a practical plan of execution.

The basic outline for your online course creation plan will include:

  • Researching how other leaders have developed and delivered online courses for their organizations
  • Speaking with experienced content creators to get their feedback and suggestions
  • Speaking with your employees and managers to get their input about what they would like to see in this upcoming training
  • Getting pricing for all the different aspects including; cost for a technical writer; cost for subject matter experts; cost for project management; cost for a learning management system; cost for marketing the course; cost for maintenance and more
  • Being honest about how much time you actually have to commit to this project, which will help you to figure out if you should try to do it in-house, or hire outside contractors

Of course there are many more details to cover in the planning phase, and if you need help then send an email to Online Training Expert Gordon Sheppard by clicking on this link.

"Online learning is rapidly becoming one of the most cost-effective ways to educate the world’s rapidly expanding workforce."

Step 2: Prove

How do you know that your entire online course will be a success?

Too many creators let their ego convince them that they should build a full online course first. This process can take hundreds of hours and cost tens of thousand of dollars.

Eight months later, after they complete the full course, they decide it’s time to introduce the course to potential students. And when the students don’t love-it-buy it-complete-it-promote it…the online course creators are shocked.

What happened? Why didn’t they like the course? What’s wrong with them?

There is a deep eLearning graveyard of fully produced online courses that nobody ever heard about.

This is why you want prove your idea first by actually producing a bite-sized piece of your online course, and then showing it to real students who can give honest feedback.

The proving step should involve spending about 25 hours over a four week period of time.

Proof In Four Weeks

Here is a week-by-week outline for Step 2.

Week 1:

Take a key concept from your online course and write a 1000 word article about it.

Week 2:

Record a basic teaching video based on the 1000 word article.

Week 3:

Send the video and the article to at least 6 potential students, and ask for their feedback about it.

Week 4:

Gather the feedback – and be honest about it.

If the beta group of students likes your idea and says that they would actually take this course – then you can move forward.

But if they tell you that it is a bad idea, and that they won’t actually use it – then you have to scrap the idea and start again.

The proving step will not only help you validate your online training idea, but it will also help you save a lot of time and money if you’re wrong – and really help you to move quickly if you are right.

Free Guide!

Ask A Business Expert - Online Course Creation Free Download

Download this free guide so you and your team can learn the 5-Step System that will help you produce engaging online courses for your employees!

Step 3: Promote

Before you start building a full online course you have to have your promotion strategy in place.

One of the best ways to get started is to look at the feedback you got from your beta students in Step 2. 

For example, the sample group of students will have told you about their experience with other online courses, as in:

  • Were they too long?
  • Too short?
  • Was the exam too difficult?
  • Are they now using the skills they learned from those online courses?
  • How did they find out about those other online courses?

There are many aspects that you can learn from a sample group of students that will influence how you set up the marketing campaign for your online course.

Along with what you’ve learned from the sample group, you can also do an inventory of all the free or low-cost promotion channels that you already have, including:

  • Social media like Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube
  • Word of mouth amongst your staff
  • The company newsletter etc.

We recommend that you start with these low-cost efforts first, so you can work out the imagery, text and tone that you want to use in your advertising.

Then you be in a better position to consider paid advertising options.

Once you understand the message you want to send out, and how much time and money you want to spend on promotion, time it’s time to move on to Step 4.

“The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.”

Step 4: Produce

Now it’s time to actually build your online course.

Assuming you have scoped out the work and you know approximately how long the entire process will take, then you can assemble your team which will include:

  • A Company Representative
  • A Project Manager
  • Subject Matter Experts
  • Technical Writers
  • Course Editors
  • Researchers
  • Learning Management System Experts

Then the team will actually build the course by doing a variety of tasks including:

  • Research
  • Interviews
  • Course Objectives
  • Course Outline
  • Writing the course content
  • Choosing the imagery
  • Building the slide deck
  • Voiceover
  • Video Recording
  • Editing the course
  • Uploading the course to a Learning Management System (LMS)
  • Testing the course

Once you have completed testing, then it’s time to make your course live for all of your students to learn from!

Online Course Statistics

Step 5: Perform

After your online course is built and your employees are enjoying it, then it’s time to measure the results and standardize the process.

Measure The Results

Because online training programs require such a significant investment, it’s worth tracking what happened.

  • How many students took the course?
  • How many students completed it?
  • How much money did you make?
  • How much did it actually cost to build it?
  • How much did it cost to promote?
  • How effective was the marketing?

By knowing what happened, then you can decide if you want to build the next online course.

Standardize The Process

Now that you know you’ve been successful, it’s time to build a checklist for all the steps that are required to build, promote and maintain your next online course.

Tie It Back To Your Strategy

In the end, if your online course helped you move your organizational goals forward – like making your company a workplace of choice for employees – then you know that you’re on the right track.

The Online Course Creation Workshop

A professional development workshop for leaders who want to build highly effective online training programs.


Your online training program will have a positive impact on the wellbeing and overall success of your employees. When they feel confident that they have the skills to perform at a high level, then your entire company will become more productive and profitable.

With that in mind, here’s a recap of the ‘Online Course Creation 5-Step System’. 

  1. Plan – Learn how to build an online learning strategy and a practical plan
  2. Prove – Learn how to validate your course concept with a ‘Proof of Concept’
  3. Promote – Learn how to effectively market your online course
  4. Produce – Learn how to build highly engaging online courses
  5. Perform – Learn how to measure results and standardize the process

When you take this structured approach, then you will improve the overall success of your online training program.

If you need help or want to learn more about this approach, then get in touch directly with Online Training Expert Gordon Sheppard.

Picture of Gordon Sheppard

Gordon Sheppard

Gordon Sheppard is a Leadership Coach, Consultant, Facilitator, Online Training Expert, Author, and Podcaster. He helps business leaders get the information, advice and inspiration they need to be successful. He is also the CEO of Business Expert Solutions Inc.

Contact Gordon

Get Our Newsletter

The ‘Ask A Business Expert’ Newsletter offers insightful tips and inspiration to help you grow your business.