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 b 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

Abstract 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 As the world of work evolves in the direction of the adoption of strategies re¯ecting such actions as downsizing, outsourcing and the increasing use of contingency employees, the implications for traditional management policies and practices are only now beginning to be explored. Illustrative of this is the training function, one of the most crucial of all management responsibilities. Training strategies and approaches which have been of 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 type of restructuring, i.e. the use of Just-In-Time Training (JIT-T). Training is de®ned as the act of teaching individuals the knowledge they need to function properly on the job. A typical training method consists of a program/ seminar lasting a few days, where individuals are taught and exposed to issues and methods relevant to their working environment. For example, a typical introductory project management seminar would last 5±10 days, would give a general introduction, and would cover all nine areas de®ned by the PMBOK [12].

After taking a training seminar, a participant typically return to their working environment and is expected to improve his performance by applying his new know-how. Obviously, not all the new knowledge can be applied immediately since, at any one moment, only speci®c issues are being dealt with. In other words, a signi®cant portion of the knowledge gained during the training has to wait some time before it is needed. It is this fact of training and its implementations that serves as our point of departure. 2. The impact of forgetting It has long been known that a signi®cant portion of the knowledge acquired during a traditional training program, having no immediate use, is stored in the memory system, and may be forgotten over time. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to evaluate the loss of knowledge as a function of break length. It has been shown by researchers (e.g. [2,16]) that the length of the interval during which people do not practice the relevant skills is a very good predictor of forgetting. 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. Impressive information on the cost of forgetting was presented by Anderlhore [1], who found that a plant

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +972-3-6408515; fax: +972-3-6409560. E-mail address: (S. Globerson).

0263-7863/01/$20.00 # 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd and IPMA. All rights reserved. PII: S0263-7863(00)00012-0


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

may lose around 50% of its productivity due to a production break of 3±6 months and may lose 75% after a 1 year break. Globerson et al. [8] found a loss of knowledge of around 40% after a break of 1 month, rising to 90% after 6 months. It was found that people tend to forget more on cognitive tasks than on motor tasks. Remaining know-how was found to decrease exponentially with break length, as described in Fig. 1. Therefore, the longer the delay between a training program and the use of the knowledge acquired during the training period, the greater the loss of gained knowledge. If management desires the lost knowledge to be regained, another training program is needed. The crucial question is the duration of the retraining session required for regaining lost knowledge. A careful literature survey has not revealed any source that gives sound information concerning the duration of a retraining session. However, using the ®ndings cited above, one may expect the behavior pattern presented in Fig. 2. The ®rst session on the time scale in Fig. 2 represents the ®rst formal training period. The second session of training, which represents a retraining session, comes after a break in which there was no training and no use was made of the know-how gained during the ®rst training session. As can be seen, the level of know-how after the second session grows at a faster pace.

3. JIT training Since the present era is characterized by the need of companies to keep a tight control on expenses, companies today are not willing to spend money on having an `inventory of knowledge' to be used when needed. Managers ask themselves what kind of training they need in order to adapt to an uncertain future with an increasingly volatile workplace. Also, managers are reluctant today to release employees for long training courses. JIT-T means `as needed' training rather than accumulating an inventory of know-how that is lost over time. JIT-T means not only at the appropriate time, but also just enough training and in just the right context. JIT-T may also be considered as a rediscovery of onthe-job training o€ered in a self-paced manner. The importance of JIT-T has already been recognized by leading companies. For example, a number of companies included in Computerworld magazines 1997 Best Places to Work, have made a commitment to JIT-T for soft and technical skills. United Parcel Service (UPS) and Xerox have also implemented JIT-T by having selfstudy rooms equipped with workstations [15]. The adoption of JIT-T does not mean that no general 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 independence among the di€erent modules. In order to allow use of the modular approach, the di€erent modules should be independent of each other. That is, each may be taught and applied independently. If this is not true

Fig. 1. The relationship between break length and the amount of remaining knowledge.

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


Fig. 3. Conventional and JIT-T approaches.

for any pair of modules, then they should be integrated into one. Let us illustrate this approach with an example from project management training. Applying the conventional approach, the areas included in the Project Management Body Of Knowledge Guide (PMBOK) [12], will be covered as one package. The use of the JIT-T approach will call for one general session, followed by separate sessions that cover each of the modules when needed. 4. Cost-bene®t analysis of training If there is no immediate use of the knowledge gained during the training session, forgetting takes place. As mentioned, forgetting is a function of the break length between the end of the training session and the start of performing the task which requires the actual use of the gained know-how. Training strategies may di€er in many attributes, such as the number of subjects covered, the extent of coverage of each subject, and the frequency of training workshops. A typical training workshop may last a few days, and may be either given on consecutive days, or may be spread over a few weeks. For the purpose of illustration and analysis, let us identify two extreme strategies: Strategy A: The training workshop covers all relevant subjects within the area of interest. For example, a project management workshop will cover all nine subjects identi®ed by the PMBOK Guide [12]. Strategy B: The ®rst training workshop covers an overview session and one subject. The second workshop will cover another subject which has not been covered, and so on. Each training workshop will start whenever a need is recognized. Fig. 4 summarizes the di€erences between the two alternatives with regard to relevant attributes. The use of JIT-T is justi®ed when the training setup cost is low enough, in comparison with knowledge holding costs, to allow shorter and more frequent training workshops.

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. 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 holding cost. Setup cost comprises the costs of all the activities required for issuing a new order, such as evaluating present inventory levels, identifying potential suppliers, issuing purchasing orders, and delivering the order. Holding cost comprises the costs associated with keeping the item in inventory until it is needed. These costs include maintenance cost, insurance cost, and costs of perished items. A typical objective of an annual training program is to satisfy annual needs at the lowest possible cost, consisting of setup and holding costs. In a similar manner one may also analyze purchasing and maintenance of know-how gained by training. There is a setup cost for preparing the training seminar, and a holding cost which is related to the loss of know-how gained during the training period. The following sections discuss and develop a training cost model. 4.1. Training setup cost The costs associated with this category relate to all the activities from the initial stage of identifying training needs to the last day of the training period. They include the following:
. Identifying training needs . Preparing the training package . Administering the training (space, food, material, instructors, equipment) . Work time lost by the trainees and paid by the company.

We may di€erentiate between two types of setup cost. The ®rst type is generated by a new seminar, which requires all the above stages. The second type of setup cost is generated by repeats of the same seminar. Since the needs have not changed, there is no need to identify them again, and there is no need to prepare the training package. Therefore, the setup cost of a repeat seminar is just a function of administration cost and time lost. 4.2. Knowledge holding cost The costs associated with this category relate to the cost of loss of know-how acquired during the training period. Rather than talking about the cost of maintaining


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 knowledge lost due to lack of maintenance. For example, using the ®nding quoted above with regard to the impact of forgetting, we may assume that around 40% of the know-how achieved is lost after a month. In order to analyze the cost of possible training patterns, one should develop a unit of measurement for knowhow. For simplicity, let us use a ``training day'' as the unit of measurement. An amount of know-how equal to a ``training day'' means the know-how gained during one training day. Let us introduce the loss of know-how by going over the following example. 4.3. Example A training program lasts for 3 days. During the ®rst month after the training, none of the know-how gained during this program has been used by the trainees. Therefore, around 40% of it has been lost, which is equal to 1.2 training days. An informal survey administered to trainers by the authors, found that trainers estimated the recovery training time to be around 50% of the loss. That is, if the loss was 1.2 days, then the retraining session should be around 1:2  0:5 ˆ 0:6 days. Expressing the loss in dollars, we may say that it is equal to the cost of running a short training seminar lasting 0.6 days. Let us further assume an instruction cost of $5000 per day and a trainees daily salary of $150. Or, an amount of $90 (150  0:6) lost due to a retraining seminar that lasts for 0.6 days. 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 one person, its cost is $5090, and for ®ve participants it is $5450, or an average of $1090. As can be seen, the average retraining cost per trainee is a function of the number of participants. Obviously, the retraining issue is much more complicated since there is a need to identify the content and the intensity of the lost know-how. 5. The impact of technology on training Fortunately, technology has now become available which make possible the tailoring of the material to be

learned to individual needs. Computer assisted instruction keyed to individuality and individual needs is obviously not a new medium. It has been used by military since the early 60s and is now being used in virtually all types of learning and training contexts as evidence for its value continues to accumulate with the increasing popularity of interactive multimedia technology. With multimedia, learning can be achieved 30% faster and performance increased by 25% over traditional training methods [3]. As mentioned before, the use of JIT-T is justi®ed only when the setup cost is low enough to allow more frequent use of training sessions since di€erent individuals may require the know-how at di€erent times. Obviously this may be achieved Ð and has already been achieved Ð by the use of the Internet, which has already become a very common medium. For example, in 1997, around 150 accredited colleges and universities in North America had nontraditional bachelors degree programs that allowed students to spend little or no time on the college campus [10]. The use of the Internet and Intranet have already spread to companies as well, particularly the latter. Intranet seems to be becoming a major player in JIT-T. Its market is around twice as large as the Internet market [4], and companies intend to use it as a major vehicle for enhancing internal JIT-T. For example, GTE [14] delivers JIT-T to help their employees do their jobs better. Employees are able to use the Intranet in order to get training whenever they need it and while doing their regular work. 6. Skills of the trainer In developing such programs, there are several skills that seem to be crucial for trainers in JIT-T programs. They need to be able to organize and categorize the material in a proposed training program into those patterns which can be utilized at di€erent times and in an order which is potentially maximally ecient for e€ective learning and minimal forgetting. The challenges then are several. The trainer needs to organize the material into meaningful modules, order them in a way that maximizes learning and minimizes forgetting. Thre trainer also has to present them in a manner such that the individual trainee knows enough about each and can

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


understand them well enough to that he/she will be able to choose those training modules most appropriate for a particular time and context. It may be noted also that the categorizing of training materials into modules is not a new perspective. Fleishman [6], for example, has shown training materials could be categorized into separate components by relating them to ability test relationships while Glickman and Vallance [7] utilized the method of critical incidents in proposing the subdivision of training materials. However, neither related their work to the JIT-T framework we are proposing here, a framework which is a combination of both sophisticated training organization and trainee self-pacing. JIT-T signi®cantly change the training approach and the trainers role. The new approach requires the trainer not only to be an expert in the subject matter and a competent instructor, but also to be able to prepare selfguided training packages. Trainers need to consider themselves as guiders of appropriate self-learning rather than only as teachers. As a result, a typical training session should include two major parts Ð an overview session and a self-teaching session. The overview session should include a general introduction, as well as an overview of the subjects for which self-paced modules are available. The self-teaching session should equip trainees with the proper tools and abilities to retrieve the selfpaced modules and be able to study them on their own. 7. JIT-T: behavior and attitudes We begin here with a paradox and a warning. The paradox is as follows: JIT-T may be most e€ective and most needed in those settings where it will be hardest to implement. The reason is that JIT-T may have the greatest potential use in those organizations undergoing rapid changes since it is in these settings that it is most dicult, if at all possible or justi®ed, to develop any long-range standardized training programs. The reason is that anxiety makes it more dicult to make the cognitive decisions and develop the cognitive structures that are necessary for the implementation of JIT-T. Anxiety makes it harder to plan and to organize in a fruitful, long-range manner and yet this is precisely what the trainer needs to do in developing her program and the trainee needs to do in choosing a trainee program and a training pace for himself [11]. Management, therefore, needs to plan its steps and its decisions, recognizing the reality of such anxiety and the need to respond to by designing a JIT-T program which does not increase anxiety and the dysfunctional behaviors that result. Such guidelines have increasingly been proposed by a number of authors in recent years and can be structured to ®t the particular characteristics of a particular work setting (c.f. [13]).

8. Example: JIT-T in project management A large high-tech company that develops and installs telecommunications sub-systems decided to establish formal project management procedures. Upper management approached MANPAT, an educational institute within the business school of Tel Aviv University that specializes in project management education. The company wished to introduce an aggressive and e€ective project management training program using the JIT-T approach. The following two principles were adopted:
. to train project managers only in subjects that could immediately be put into practice in the daily working environment . to verify that the managers of project managers were familiar with the PMBOK Guide, and were able to request their subordinates to apply relevant project management techniques and procedures

The following plan was devised and implemented using these principles: 1. Review of the PMBOK with the managers of project managers. This review took half a day. 2. Assisting the managers with selection of the most relevant topics to be covered in detail. Fig. 5 presents the average relative importance assigned by the managers to the di€erent topics. 3. Design and implementation of a 3 day seminar for the managers of project managers, aimed at covering the selected topics and identifying tools and techniques to be used by the company. The following program was established for the seminar, using the relative importance assigned by the managers: Day 1: project life cycle, organization of the project, WBS, work packages Day 2: resource estimation, scheduling, project control Day 3: risk management, quality assurance, human resource management. During the seminar, the managers identi®ed the following templates to be prepared before running the workshop for project managers: a check list of items required for starting a project, a generic WBS, a work package templates, and templates for identifying risk drivers. 4. Development of the tools identi®ed during the seminar so that they could be taught and practiced in the project managers' seminar. This was done during a 1-day workshop in which the work of developing the tools was shared among the managers. The resulting templates were adopted as standard procedures to be used by all project


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 companys Intranet. 5. Design and implementation of a 4-day seminar for the project managers. The emphasis was on learning and practicing the tools adopted by the managers. The 4-day seminar covered the same material as the managers' seminar, but emphasized the use of the adopted procedures. As a result of the JIT-T process described above, the training concentrated only on the material to be implemented right after the completion of the seminar, thereby avoiding loss of know-how gained by project managers but not required by their managers at that stage of the implementation. 9. Conclusions In this era of rapid change of technology, products, processes and personal commitment to organizations, the conventional training strategy is not appropriate any more. JIT-T is an e€ective answer to this new world as it o€ers a fast response to some types of organizational training needs, at a relatively low cost. Since the needed technology, such as the Internet and Intranet, is available. It is feasible to apply JIT-T to project management since it is possible to identify independent training modules within the PMBOK know-how context. Also, typical project managers seem to be suciently experienced with internet and intranet environment in order to use it as the training media for the JIT-T.

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S. Globerson, A. Korman / International Journal of Project Management 19 (2001) 279±285 [16] Wisher R, Sabol M, Sukenik H, Kem R. 1991. Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), call up: Skill Decay. Research Report No. 1595, Alexandria, VA: US Army Research Institute. Shlomo Globerson is a researcher, educator and consultant in the ®elds of project management and operations management. He is a professor at the Graduate School of Business Administration, Tel Aviv University, and a frequent visiting professor at di€erent universities and establishments all around the world. Prof. Globerson is extensively involved in developing new courses and workshops for MBA students, 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.


Abraham K. Korman is the Wollman Distinguished Professor of Management at Baruch College of the City University of New York. He is the author of seven books and over 50 articles in the areas of work motivation, leadership, executive stress and inter-group relations in work settings. He has over 30 years of international experience as a consultant to the companies such as Amstar, Beatrice Foods, Fairchild Industries, RCA, IBM, American Airlines, Unilever and the New York Daily News. He holds a Ph.D. in Industrial Psychology from the University of Minnesota.

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