Using ADDIE to Optimize Your Compliance Training Curriculum, Part 2: Design

This is the second post in a series about using the ADDIE learning model as a framework for building a better compliance training curriculum.

In our last post, we began with the first step in the ADDIE model, A (Analyze), and explored a way to analyze your compliance training needs so you can obtain a clear picture of those needs. The result was a list of the activities your employees engage in that contain some form of compliance risk, with columns indicating the risk level and frequency of each activity for each employee group. For example:

With this information in hand, it’s time to move on to the first D in the ADDIE model – Design. Now that you have identified your training needs, how are you going to meet them? How do you decide whether to create eLearning modules, live workshops, microlearning, performance support tools, etc.?

Several factors should help drive your design decisions.

Activity Risk

Make sure you address high-level risks first. This doesn’t necessarily mean all high-level risks need to receive the same level of resources or attention (other factors are at play), but it does mean that you need to implement a solution that properly addresses each high-level risk activity.

Select the chart to see examples of how various activities might be mapped in terms of risk and frequency.

Activity Frequency

Employees who perform an activity more frequently will tend to remember the steps involved (and the associated compliance guidance), while the opposite will be true of those activities performed less frequently.

For example, sales representatives may call on doctors almost every day. It’s a high-risk activity, but repetition breeds familiarity. However, the same sales representatives may only occasionally plan and host a speaker program. So, a quick reference guide or refresher training to remind them of their responsibilities would be helpful.

Regardless of the frequency of an activity, all learners benefit from a training solution that includes spaced reinforcement and that does not rely on just one crowded learning event. But for less frequent activities, reinforcement and reference materials are even more critical.

Learner Characteristics

Also take into account the characteristics of your learners. Think about these questions:

  • How many people engage in each activity? Some training modalities, like live workshops and coaching, are well suited for smaller populations but may not be practical for larger groups.
  • How many groups engage in the same activity? Are there groups who can receive the same training on a topic?
  • What are your learners’ levels of experience? Foundational training may be more important for new learners, whereas experienced learners may need more reinforcement or training that goes deeper into specific issues.
  • Where are your learners located? In-person training events may not be an option for a dispersed group.

Other Considerations

Here’s a quick review of other factors to consider.

  • Which activities can be addressed through common solutions? For example, can all transfers of value and transparency concerns be addressed through a single learning solution?
  • How stable is the subject matter? Are regulations, policies, or practices changing soon? You may want to hold off on an elaborate learning solution until the dust settles.
  • What resources do you have available? What’s your training budget? How many employees can you dedicate to training initiatives? Some solutions will be more practical and economical than others.

DOJ Recommendations

As you consider your choices, don’t forget to review the training recommendations found in the US Department of Justice’s Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs. Along with recommending timely, periodic, risk-based training that is appropriately tailored, the guidance notes that “Other companies have invested in shorter, more targeted training sessions to enable employees to timely identify and raise issues to appropriate compliance, internal audit, or other risk management functions.”

Possible Solutions

Weighing all the factors discussed above should help you narrow down the approaches that would help you best meet your learners’ training needs.

For example, low-risk, low-frequency activities might be best addressed by requiring learners to read the relevant policy and electronically sign an attestation. You can also provide job aids and other performance support tools learners can reference at the point of need, ie, when they are about to engage in the activity.

The Compliance Foundations eLearning module, Compliant Product Promotion, is a great starting point for all sales employees.

Likewise, when training on a high-risk activity, consider blending core training with reinforcement and performance support tools. For example, you could deploy a foundational eLearning module on promotional interactions for all sales employees, supplemented by live Q&A sessions for individual brand teams and micro-learning videos that periodically reinforce of key risks.

And don’t forget the value of communication. Website banners, short emails, and physical posters can all be used to remind employees of important principles and practices.

No Matter the Solution, Follow Good ID

Once you settle on a specific solution, remember to follow sound instructional design principles. Focus on the learning objectives, ie, what people need to know and be able to do, rather than chunks of content. Remember the goal is not to turn your employees into junior compliance experts; it’s to help them perform their jobs in compliance with your company’s policies and procedures and thereby reduce your company’s compliance risk. If nothing else, put yourselves in the learner’s shoes as you make your design decisions.


While this post merely scratches the surface, we hope it’s given you some practical design considerations to think about when creating or refreshing your compliance training curriculum.

In our next post, we’re going to stay with the topic of design a little longer, but this time we’ll discuss visual design and the role it plays in creating effective learning experiences.

Until then, thanks for reading!

Dave Correale
Senior Instructional Designer

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