Nancy O. Berger

Virginia Commonwealth University, USA

Keywords: Planning, Strategies, Methodologies,Technology.


1. Introduction to Planning Strategies for HRD

2. Needs Assessment in HRD

3. Human Resource Development Objectives

4. Human Resource Development Activities

5. Resource Requirements for HRD

6. Human Resource Development Plans

7. Essential Elements of Strategic Planning For HRD

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Biographical Sketch

7. Essential Elements of Strategic Planning for HRD   

The next article explores strategic planning for HRD. Why is strategic planning important for HRD? HRD is a fairly new discipline. In a turbulent environment, the capacity to learn and change is more important than ever to individuals and the organizations in which they work. As part of the natural learning process of organizations and individuals, HRD must become strategic.

According to Wognum, strategic HRD planning, or alignment, "is a dynamic and interactive process in which, as part of an ongoing and future company policy, appropriate HRD goals and objectives are formulated concerning employees' and company development using targeted learning processes of improvement and innovation." The term "strategic" emphasizes the organizational perspective and connects HRD to organizational goals and objectives.

7.1. Main stages of HRD Planning

Ideally, strategic HRD plans should take place at three levels: the strategic, tactical and operational levels of the organization. The main stages of strategic HRD planning include:

  1. Identify organizational strategies, problems and developments at all possible organizational levels.

  2. Examine these in relation to possible HRD implications.

  3. Make strategic choices about the way in which strategies, problems, and developments can be supported by HRD programs or other formal or informal learning interventions.

7.2. Aspects of Strategic HRD Planning

Wognum suggests that strategic planning can be characterized by four aspects of strategic HRD planning:

  1. Participation
  2. Information
  3. Formalization
  4. Decision-making

By paying attention to these four aspects, the HRD planning process should lead to strategically aligned and effective HRD programs and activities that will provide employees with the competencies they need to contribute to the achievement of organizational goals.

Wognum includes a model, which illustrates that strategic HRD planning is not top-down or bottom-up. Instead, strategic decisions made at one level are inputs for strategic planning at both higher and lower organizational levels. Vertical cooperation among managers and employees in their respective organizational levels is critical to developing an integrated, coherent strategic HRD plan. Horizontal cooperation between HRD representatives and managers and employees at all company levels is also necessary to align HRD policy and organizational policy and strategy.

7.3. Assessment of HRD Effectiveness

It is also important to determine if the HRD goals and objectives, spelled out in the strategic HRD plan, have been achieved. The results of HRD evaluation initiatives can serve as input for continuing strategic planning at all organizational levels.

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Change objectives: HRD objectives directed at transforming or improving work system functioning.

Critical performance subsystem objectives: HRD objectives that address drivers which improve and maximize the outcomes of structural sub-units within work systems.

Drivers: elements of performance that are expected to maintain or improve the functioning of a work system.

Electronic learning (e-learning): learning accomplished through a wide range of technology applications, strategies, and tools, particularly the Internet.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system: a software-based system that integrates information from diverse applications into a common database.

Human Resource Development (HRD): an interdisciplinary field that encompasses research, theory, and practice involving the learning and development of individuals, groups, organizations, and other systems.

Human Resource Development needs assessment: an investigative process whose purpose is to connect an organization’s performance problems or opportunities for performance improvement to specific HRD interventions.

Human Resource Management (HRM): the design of formal systems in an organization to ensure the effective and efficient use of human talent to accomplish the organizational goals; also the department in charge of developing and maintaining these systems.

Human Resource Management System (HRMS) or Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS): a software-based system designed to organize various types of HR information into one database; often found as a subset of a bigger ERP solution.

Individual level objectives: HRD objectives that address the needs of individuals performing in a work system to enable them to improve and maximize their contribution to overall work system performance.

Learning Management System (LMS): meta-data structure that makes it possible to combine powerful database capabilities with online search and file retrieval capabilities so that specific content objects can be identified, located and retrieved.

Maintenance objectives: HRD objectives directed at preserving the functioning of the work system.

Mission level objectives: HRD objectives that focus on the relationship between HRD, work system goals, and the work system’s external environment.

Outcomes: measures of the effectiveness or efficiency of a work system.

ROI: return on investment

Scenario planning: a method for planning in which groups or teams describe possible future circumstances and how the organization might respond to them

Strategic: working from a strategy or plan of action to achieve a specific objective.

Strategic HRD planning: envisioning the future and deciding how that vision will be achieved: a systematic attempt to appraise the performance of the organization, quantify its achievements, define its long-term goals, develop strategies to achieve its new outcomes, and allocate resources to carry out those strategies effectively and efficiently.

Uncertainty avoidance: a term used to describe a dimension of culture, having to do with how cultures deal with uncertainty.

Web-based instruction (WBI): the integration of instructional practices and Internet capabilities to direct a learner toward a specific level of proficiency in a specified competency.

Work system: an interdependent, organized architecture of human activity directed toward the accomplishment of a valued goal or outcome.


Gupta, K. (1999). A Practical Guide to Needs Assessment. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. [An excellent practitioner's guide to needs assessment, including worksheets in print and on CD-ROM]

Harless, J.H. (1970). An Ounce of Analysis. Falls Church, VA: Harless Educational Technologists, Inc. [A classic for understanding the crucial role of analysis in any organizational initiative]

Kaufman, R. (1997). Needs Assessment Basics. In The Guide to Performance Improvement. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. [A complete discussion of needs assessment within a performance improvement initiative]

Mager, R. & Pipe, P. (1970). Analyzing Performance Problems. Belmont, CA: Fearon. [A classic introduction to performance analysis, including needs assessment, written in simple language]

Robinson, D.G. & Robinson, J.C. (1989). Training for Impact: How to Link Training to Business Needs and Measure Results. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. [Good guide to performance analysis with needs assessment as a key step]

Rossett, A. (1987). Training Needs Assessment. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications. [Well-informed discussion of all aspects of needs assessment in a training context]

Rothwell, W.J. & Kazanas, H.C. (1998) Mastering the Instructional Design Process: A Systematic Approach (second edition) San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. [Good coverage of needs assessment within a standard instructional design project]

Rummler, G. (1995). Improving Performance: How to Manage the White Space. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. [A classic for understanding performance at the organizational, process, and individual levels]

Zemke, R. & Kramlinger, T. (1985). Figuring Things Out: A Trainer's Guide to Needs and Task Analysis. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley. [This book provides a comprehensive resource for information about needs analysis including practical techniques and procedures. Written in an easy-to-read style with plenty of examples and illustrations]

Biographical Sketch   

Dr. Nancy Berger is an assistant professor and director of the Adult Education and Human Resource Development graduate programs at Virginia Commonwealth University. Prior to joining VCU, she was the president and owner of Training for Performance, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in the design, development, and implementation of both technical and management training and development programs. Her clients have included the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Philip Morris, Nabisco, Markel Insurance, Tredegar Corporation, the Malaysian Institute of Management, and many others. She has also served as on-line professor with Capella University, as well as spending several years as an assistant professor of HRD at George Washington University. Her corporate experience has included designing e-learning and other training design at Cisco Systems, Inc., and 13 years at Dominion Virginia Power in various training design positions.

Dr. Berger has also served as a volunteer executive with the International Executive Service Corps, in Russia, and as a visiting professor at the Far East Academy of Economics and Management in Vladivostok, Russia and the ESCEM business school in Tours, France. She is the co-author of the book, Leaders for the 21st Century, published in English and Japanese.

Her professional preparation has included a PhD in Human Resource Development from Virginia Commonwealth University, a Masters in French from the University of Virginia, and a Graduate French Teaching Certificate from the Université de Nice, France.

5. Resource Requirements for HRD


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