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International Journal of Project Management 19 (2001) 279±285


The use of just-in-time training in a project environment

Shlomo Globerson a,*, Abe Korman b
The Leon Recanti Graduate School of Business Administration, Faculty of Management, University Campus, PO Box 39010, 69978 Tel Aviv, Israel
Baruch College, The City University of New York, NY, USA

Received 17 June 1999; received in revised form 30 December 1999; accepted 20 January 2000

Around 40% of the knowledge acquired in training is lost after a break of 1 month, rising to 90% after 6 months. By providing
training `as needed', Just In Time Training (JIT-T) seeks to solve this problem. In other words, e€ort is not invested in training
people in skills that they are not going to use in the very near future. The paper describes the use of the JIT-T approach in training
project managers, working in a hi-tech company. JIT-T was selected because the management felt that the conventional training
was not e€ective enough. The more crucial project management areas were identi®ed, and the training program was executed.
# 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd and IPMA. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Training programs; Project management; Loss of know-how

1. Introduction After taking a training seminar, a participant typically

return to their working environment and is expected to
As the world of work evolves in the direction of the improve his performance by applying his new know-how.
adoption of strategies re¯ecting such actions as down- Obviously, not all the new knowledge can be applied
sizing, outsourcing and the increasing use of contingency immediately since, at any one moment, only speci®c
employees, the implications for traditional management issues are being dealt with. In other words, a signi®cant
policies and practices are only now beginning to be portion of the knowledge gained during the training has
explored. Illustrative of this is the training function, one to wait some time before it is needed. It is this fact of
of the most crucial of all management responsibilities. training and its implementations that serves as our point
Training strategies and approaches which have been of of departure.
value now need to be reexamined and restructured,
when necessary, in order to meet the demands of this
new world. In this paper, we discuss the value of one 2. The impact of forgetting
type of restructuring, i.e. the use of Just-In-Time Training
(JIT-T). It has long been known that a signi®cant portion of
Training is de®ned as the act of teaching individuals the knowledge acquired during a traditional training
the knowledge they need to function properly on the program, having no immediate use, is stored in the
job. A typical training method consists of a program/ memory system, and may be forgotten over time.
seminar lasting a few days, where individuals are taught Therefore, it is of utmost importance to evaluate the
and exposed to issues and methods relevant to their loss of knowledge as a function of break length.
working environment. For example, a typical intro- It has been shown by researchers (e.g. [2,16]) that the
ductory project management seminar would last 5±10 length of the interval during which people do not practice
days, would give a general introduction, and would the relevant skills is a very good predictor of forgetting.
cover all nine areas de®ned by the PMBOK [12]. Other researchers [5,9] have suggested that forgetting is
also a€ected by the kind of activities that people are
engaged in during the intervening period.
* Corresponding author. Tel.: +972-3-6408515; fax: +972-3-6409560. Impressive information on the cost of forgetting was
E-mail address: globe@post.tau.ac.il (S. Globerson). presented by Anderlhore [1], who found that a plant
0263-7863/01/$20.00 # 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd and IPMA. All rights reserved.
PII: S0263-7863(00)00012-0
280 S. Globerson, A. Korman / International Journal of Project Management 19 (2001) 279±285

may lose around 50% of its productivity due to a pro- 3. JIT training
duction break of 3±6 months and may lose 75% after a
1 year break. Globerson et al. [8] found a loss of knowledge Since the present era is characterized by the need of
of around 40% after a break of 1 month, rising to 90% companies to keep a tight control on expenses, compa-
after 6 months. It was found that people tend to forget nies today are not willing to spend money on having an
more on cognitive tasks than on motor tasks. Remaining `inventory of knowledge' to be used when needed.
know-how was found to decrease exponentially with Managers ask themselves what kind of training they
break length, as described in Fig. 1. Therefore, the need in order to adapt to an uncertain future with an
longer the delay between a training program and the use increasingly volatile workplace. Also, managers are
of the knowledge acquired during the training period, reluctant today to release employees for long training
the greater the loss of gained knowledge. courses.
If management desires the lost knowledge to be JIT-T means `as needed' training rather than accu-
regained, another training program is needed. The crucial mulating an inventory of know-how that is lost over
question is the duration of the retraining session time. JIT-T means not only at the appropriate time, but
required for regaining lost knowledge. A careful literature also just enough training and in just the right context.
survey has not revealed any source that gives sound JIT-T may also be considered as a rediscovery of on-
information concerning the duration of a retraining the-job training o€ered in a self-paced manner.
session. However, using the ®ndings cited above, one The importance of JIT-T has already been recognized
may expect the behavior pattern presented in Fig. 2. by leading companies. For example, a number of com-
The ®rst session on the time scale in Fig. 2 represents panies included in Computerworld magazines 1997 Best
the ®rst formal training period. The second session of Places to Work, have made a commitment to JIT-T for
training, which represents a retraining session, comes soft and technical skills. United Parcel Service (UPS)
after a break in which there was no training and no use and Xerox have also implemented JIT-T by having self-
was made of the know-how gained during the ®rst study rooms equipped with workstations [15].
training session. As can be seen, the level of know-how The adoption of JIT-T does not mean that no general
after the second session grows at a faster pace. training is given, since in order to apply a certain module
of know-how, the trainee needs to have a general
knowledge of the subject matter. Fig. 3 describes the
basic di€erence between the conventional training
approach and the JIT-T approach.
The general training module is required in both
approaches. However, while the conventional approach
delivers the three know-how modules, M1, M2, and M3
together with the general training, the JIT-T approach
delivers them separately and only when they are needed.
A major issue that should be resolved when designing
a JIT-T approach is the ability to de®ne the required
overview module and to evaluate the extent of indepen-
dence among the di€erent modules. In order to allow
use of the modular approach, the di€erent modules
Fig. 1. The relationship between break length and the amount of should be independent of each other. That is, each may
remaining knowledge. be taught and applied independently. If this is not true

Fig. 2. Level of know-how as a function of training sessions and breaks.

S. Globerson, A. Korman / International Journal of Project Management 19 (2001) 279±285 281

Cost-bene®t analysis of the alternative training strategies

may be done in a manner similar to that for an inventory of
material kept by an organization to be used later. In both
cases, inventory of material and `inventory of know-how',
the value decreases over time. Since inventory analysis is
used by many organizations and has been around for quite
a while, let us review its basic concepts, and then give a
comparative analysis for inventoried know-how.
Fig. 3. Conventional and JIT-T approaches. A typical objective of an inventory system is to satisfy
annual demand at the lowest possible cost, where cost
consists of ordering cost (also called setup cost), and hold-
for any pair of modules, then they should be integrated ing cost. Setup cost comprises the costs of all the activities
into one. required for issuing a new order, such as evaluating present
Let us illustrate this approach with an example from inventory levels, identifying potential suppliers, issuing
project management training. Applying the conventional purchasing orders, and delivering the order. Holding cost
approach, the areas included in the Project Management comprises the costs associated with keeping the item in
Body Of Knowledge Guide (PMBOK) [12], will be cov- inventory until it is needed. These costs include main-
ered as one package. The use of the JIT-T approach will tenance cost, insurance cost, and costs of perished items.
call for one general session, followed by separate ses- A typical objective of an annual training program is
sions that cover each of the modules when needed. to satisfy annual needs at the lowest possible cost, con-
sisting of setup and holding costs. In a similar manner
one may also analyze purchasing and maintenance of
4. Cost-bene®t analysis of training know-how gained by training. There is a setup cost for
preparing the training seminar, and a holding cost
If there is no immediate use of the knowledge gained which is related to the loss of know-how gained during
during the training session, forgetting takes place. As the training period. The following sections discuss and
mentioned, forgetting is a function of the break length develop a training cost model.
between the end of the training session and the start of
performing the task which requires the actual use of the 4.1. Training setup cost
gained know-how.
Training strategies may di€er in many attributes, such The costs associated with this category relate to all the
as the number of subjects covered, the extent of coverage activities from the initial stage of identifying training
of each subject, and the frequency of training work- needs to the last day of the training period. They include
shops. A typical training workshop may last a few days, the following:
and may be either given on consecutive days, or may be
spread over a few weeks. For the purpose of illustration . Identifying training needs
and analysis, let us identify two extreme strategies: . Preparing the training package
. Administering the training (space, food, material,
Strategy A: The training workshop covers all relevant instructors, equipment)
subjects within the area of interest. For . Work time lost by the trainees and paid by the
example, a project management workshop company.
will cover all nine subjects identi®ed by the
PMBOK Guide [12]. We may di€erentiate between two types of setup cost.
Strategy B: The ®rst training workshop covers an over- The ®rst type is generated by a new seminar, which
view session and one subject. The second requires all the above stages. The second type of setup
workshop will cover another subject which cost is generated by repeats of the same seminar. Since
has not been covered, and so on. Each the needs have not changed, there is no need to identify
training workshop will start whenever a them again, and there is no need to prepare the training
need is recognized. package. Therefore, the setup cost of a repeat seminar is
just a function of administration cost and time lost.
Fig. 4 summarizes the di€erences between the two
alternatives with regard to relevant attributes. 4.2. Knowledge holding cost
The use of JIT-T is justi®ed when the training setup
cost is low enough, in comparison with knowledge The costs associated with this category relate to the
holding costs, to allow shorter and more frequent cost of loss of know-how acquired during the training
training workshops. period. Rather than talking about the cost of maintaining
282 S. Globerson, A. Korman / International Journal of Project Management 19 (2001) 279±285

Fig. 4. Attributes of two extreme training strategies.

unused knowledge, we can estimate the value of knowl- learned to individual needs. Computer assisted instruc-
edge lost due to lack of maintenance. For example, tion keyed to individuality and individual needs is
using the ®nding quoted above with regard to the obviously not a new medium. It has been used by military
impact of forgetting, we may assume that around 40% since the early 60s and is now being used in virtually all
of the know-how achieved is lost after a month. types of learning and training contexts as evidence for
In order to analyze the cost of possible training patterns, its value continues to accumulate with the increasing
one should develop a unit of measurement for know- popularity of interactive multimedia technology. With
how. For simplicity, let us use a ``training day'' as the multimedia, learning can be achieved 30% faster and
unit of measurement. An amount of know-how equal to performance increased by 25% over traditional training
a ``training day'' means the know-how gained during methods [3]. As mentioned before, the use of JIT-T is
one training day. Let us introduce the loss of know-how justi®ed only when the setup cost is low enough to allow
by going over the following example. more frequent use of training sessions since di€erent
individuals may require the know-how at di€erent
4.3. Example times. Obviously this may be achieved Ð and has
already been achieved Ð by the use of the Internet,
A training program lasts for 3 days. During the ®rst which has already become a very common medium. For
month after the training, none of the know-how gained example, in 1997, around 150 accredited colleges and
during this program has been used by the trainees. universities in North America had nontraditional
Therefore, around 40% of it has been lost, which is bachelors degree programs that allowed students to
equal to 1.2 training days. spend little or no time on the college campus [10]. The
An informal survey administered to trainers by the use of the Internet and Intranet have already spread to
authors, found that trainers estimated the recovery companies as well, particularly the latter. Intranet seems
training time to be around 50% of the loss. That is, if to be becoming a major player in JIT-T. Its market is
the loss was 1.2 days, then the retraining session should around twice as large as the Internet market [4], and
be around 1:2  0:5 ˆ 0:6 days. Expressing the loss in companies intend to use it as a major vehicle for
dollars, we may say that it is equal to the cost of running a enhancing internal JIT-T. For example, GTE [14]
short training seminar lasting 0.6 days. Let us further delivers JIT-T to help their employees do their jobs
assume an instruction cost of $5000 per day and a trainees better. Employees are able to use the Intranet in order
daily salary of $150. Or, an amount of $90 (150  0:6) to get training whenever they need it and while doing
lost due to a retraining seminar that lasts for 0.6 days. their regular work.
To run the retraining seminar will cost 5000 ‡ X  90,
where X is the number of trainees who participate in the
seminar. That is, if a retraining session is held just for 6. Skills of the trainer
one person, its cost is $5090, and for ®ve participants it
is $5450, or an average of $1090. As can be seen, the In developing such programs, there are several skills
average retraining cost per trainee is a function of the that seem to be crucial for trainers in JIT-T programs.
number of participants. They need to be able to organize and categorize the
Obviously, the retraining issue is much more compli- material in a proposed training program into those
cated since there is a need to identify the content and the patterns which can be utilized at di€erent times and in
intensity of the lost know-how. an order which is potentially maximally ecient for
e€ective learning and minimal forgetting. The chal-
lenges then are several. The trainer needs to organize the
5. The impact of technology on training material into meaningful modules, order them in a way
that maximizes learning and minimizes forgetting. Thre
Fortunately, technology has now become available trainer also has to present them in a manner such that
which make possible the tailoring of the material to be the individual trainee knows enough about each and can
S. Globerson, A. Korman / International Journal of Project Management 19 (2001) 279±285 283

understand them well enough to that he/she will be able 8. Example: JIT-T in project management
to choose those training modules most appropriate for a
particular time and context. It may be noted also that A large high-tech company that develops and installs
the categorizing of training materials into modules is telecommunications sub-systems decided to establish
not a new perspective. Fleishman [6], for example, has formal project management procedures. Upper man-
shown training materials could be categorized into agement approached MANPAT, an educational insti-
separate components by relating them to ability test tute within the business school of Tel Aviv University
relationships while Glickman and Vallance [7] utilized that specializes in project management education.
the method of critical incidents in proposing the sub- The company wished to introduce an aggressive and
division of training materials. However, neither related e€ective project management training program using
their work to the JIT-T framework we are proposing here, the JIT-T approach. The following two principles were
a framework which is a combination of both sophisticated adopted:
training organization and trainee self-pacing.
JIT-T signi®cantly change the training approach and . to train project managers only in subjects that
the trainers role. The new approach requires the trainer could immediately be put into practice in the daily
not only to be an expert in the subject matter and a working environment
competent instructor, but also to be able to prepare self- . to verify that the managers of project managers
guided training packages. Trainers need to consider were familiar with the PMBOK Guide, and were
themselves as guiders of appropriate self-learning rather able to request their subordinates to apply relevant
than only as teachers. As a result, a typical training project management techniques and procedures
session should include two major parts Ð an overview
session and a self-teaching session. The overview session The following plan was devised and implemented
should include a general introduction, as well as an over- using these principles:
view of the subjects for which self-paced modules are
available. The self-teaching session should equip trainees 1. Review of the PMBOK with the managers of pro-
with the proper tools and abilities to retrieve the self- ject managers. This review took half a day.
paced modules and be able to study them on their own. 2. Assisting the managers with selection of the most
relevant topics to be covered in detail. Fig. 5 pre-
sents the average relative importance assigned by
7. JIT-T: behavior and attitudes the managers to the di€erent topics.
3. Design and implementation of a 3 day seminar for
We begin here with a paradox and a warning. The the managers of project managers, aimed at cov-
paradox is as follows: JIT-T may be most e€ective and ering the selected topics and identifying tools and
most needed in those settings where it will be hardest to techniques to be used by the company. The fol-
implement. The reason is that JIT-T may have the lowing program was established for the seminar,
greatest potential use in those organizations undergoing using the relative importance assigned by the
rapid changes since it is in these settings that it is most managers:
dicult, if at all possible or justi®ed, to develop any Day 1: project life cycle, organization of the project,
long-range standardized training programs. WBS, work packages
The reason is that anxiety makes it more dicult to Day 2: resource estimation, scheduling, project
make the cognitive decisions and develop the cognitive control
structures that are necessary for the implementation of Day 3: risk management, quality assurance,
JIT-T. human resource management. During the seminar,
Anxiety makes it harder to plan and to organize in a the managers identi®ed the following templates to be
fruitful, long-range manner and yet this is precisely prepared before running the workshop for project
what the trainer needs to do in developing her program managers: a check list of items required for starting a
and the trainee needs to do in choosing a trainee pro- project, a generic WBS, a work package templates,
gram and a training pace for himself [11]. and templates for identifying risk drivers.
Management, therefore, needs to plan its steps and its
decisions, recognizing the reality of such anxiety and the 4. Development of the tools identi®ed during the
need to respond to by designing a JIT-T program which seminar so that they could be taught and practiced
does not increase anxiety and the dysfunctional beha- in the project managers' seminar. This was done
viors that result. Such guidelines have increasingly been during a 1-day workshop in which the work of
proposed by a number of authors in recent years and developing the tools was shared among the man-
can be structured to ®t the particular characteristics of a agers. The resulting templates were adopted as
particular work setting (c.f. [13]). standard procedures to be used by all project
284 S. Globerson, A. Korman / International Journal of Project Management 19 (2001) 279±285

Fig. 5. Relative importance of project management subjects, as ranked by managers.

managers in the company, and were posted on the References

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S. Globerson, A. Korman / International Journal of Project Management 19 (2001) 279±285 285

[16] Wisher R, Sabol M, Sukenik H, Kem R. 1991. Individual Ready Abraham K. Korman is the Wollman
Reserve (IRR), call up: Skill Decay. Research Report No. 1595, Distinguished Professor of Manage-
Alexandria, VA: US Army Research Institute. ment at Baruch College of the City
University of New York. He is the
author of seven books and over 50
Shlomo Globerson is a researcher, edu-
articles in the areas of work motiva-
cator and consultant in the ®elds of tion, leadership, executive stress and
project management and operations inter-group relations in work settings.
management. He is a professor at the He has over 30 years of international
Graduate School of Business Admin-
experience as a consultant to the
istration, Tel Aviv University, and a companies such as Amstar, Beatrice
frequent visiting professor at di€erent Foods, Fairchild Industries, RCA,
universities and establishments all
IBM, American Airlines, Unilever
around the world. Prof. Globerson is and the New York Daily News. He
extensively involved in developing new holds a Ph.D. in Industrial Psychology from the University of
courses and workshops for MBA stu- Minnesota.
dents, project managers and top
executives, as well as preparing for the
professional examination in project
management. Prof. Globerson has published over 70 refereed articles
and seven books.