Instructional Systems Design (ISD) – The ADDIE Model

Instructional Systems Design (ISD) – The ADDIE Model

What is the ADDIE Model and why are so many organizations using it to create and implement their training programs?

Instructional Systems Design (ISD)

Man wearing beanie drawing diagram on whiteboardDesigning and rolling out a successful training program involves a variety of people co-ordinating their efforts to achieve the desired outcome. Clients and end users of the program may be interviewed to determine the real training requirements. Instructional designers will design and develop the program. Administrators will organize the training schedules and venue logistics. If the program incorporates e-learning components, information technology professionals will be involved at a number of points. Ensuring that each piece of work is performed at the right time, using the right amount of resources and to the right standard is no small feat. Add to this the only to be expected changes to requirements, unanticipated issues threatening the success of the project and the usual mix of politics and personalities and you can see why many programs fail to deliver the anticipated organizational benefits.

Experience with both successful and failed programs indicate that the chances of success improve significantly if this complex undertaking is treated as a project, using recognized project management principles and methods. Each discipline has its own set of accepted project phases. For example, software development follows a Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) with five phases; Analyze, Design, Build, Test and Implement.

For training program development, a phased systems approach is often referred to as the Instructional Systems Design (ISD) model. The benefits in using a structured phased approach is that the end product is more likely to meet the genuine needs of the client and other stakeholder groups. This approach also helps to ensure that no development activity is started before a necessary pre-activity is completed. For example, development of participant materials is not begun before the program design is completed. In this way, rework is minimized, saving costs and much frustration.

The ADDIE Model

The most popular rendering of the specific phases using the ISD approach is the ADDIE model. ADDIE represents the five phases of the project, being Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement and Evaluate. Leslie Allan’s set of training project templates is based on these five phases. Each phase is characterized by a set of activities and a project output in the form of a tangible deliverable. The deliverable for one phase is the input for the next. Each phase also culminates in a review, which forms a go/no-go point for deciding whether to proceed to the next phase.

The five phases of the ADDIE model are preceded by a project initiation and planning phase. This initial phase determines the costs associated with undertaking the project and the expected organizational benefits resulting from it. This forms the overarching rationale for proceeding with the project. A project definition that outlines basic project parameters such as objectives, scope, milestones and resource requirements is then drawn up to hand over to the Project Manager. To complete this phase, the Project Manager develops the project plan that is then used to guide and manage the project.

Leading in to the five phases of the ADDIE model, the outputs and activities associated with each phase may be summarized as follows:


  • Clarify organizational and training program objectives.
  • Agree the scope of the training program.
  • Articulate training administration requirements.
  • Determine strategies for transferring learned skills to the workplace.
  • Detail project risks, opportunities and assumptions.
  • Investigate constraints in implementing the program, including technological, budget, timing and duration.
  • List training vendor/trainer selection criteria.
  • Determine the target participants, program entry requirements, participant characteristics and special needs.
  • Determine extent of training participant knowledge/skill assessment required.
  • Determine the tasks currently performed by target participants and level of performance required following the training.
  • Estimate program design, development, implementation and evaluation costs, effort required and schedule.
Training Needs Analysis


  • Translate the program objectives into terminal and enabling learning objectives.
  • Quantify program development, implementation and evaluation costs and effort required.
  • Determine program structure and sequence.
  • Determine program duration and pace.
  • Decide program format and mode of delivery.
  • Specify type of participant assessments and assessment conditions.
  • Determine program evaluation methodology, data collection methods, timing and reporting formats.
  • Articulate transfer of learning methods and workplace support.
  • Define implementation and training administration requirements.
High-level Design


  • Develop communication packs for program stakeholders.
  • Develop session plans, trainer guides, learner guides and trainer and participant resources.
  • Develop trainer and on-the-job aids.
  • Develop coaching/mentoring guides and resources.
  • Develop technology infrastructure and software.
  • Develop participant assessments.
  • Develop project and program evaluation instruments.
  • Conduct pilot program to test that program meets client requirements.
  • Review implementation and evaluation costs, effort required and schedule.
Communication packs
Session plans, trainer guides, learner guides and resources
Trainer and on-the-job aids
Participant assessment instruments
Program evaluation instruments
Project evaluation instruments


  • Rollout program communications to stakeholders.
  • Produce program materials and aids.
  • Install technology infrastructure and services.
  • Set up administrative databases and systems.
  • Install on-the-job aids.
  • Prepare coaches/mentors.
  • Book venue, accommodation and travel arrangements.
  • Set up venue and accommodation.
  • Schedule participants.
  • Conduct training sessions.
  • Implement training transfer strategies.
  • Conduct participant assessments.
  • Collect participant feedback.
Completed participant assessments
Completed attendance forms
Completed participant feedback forms


  • Collect training program evaluation data.
  • Collect project evaluation data.
  • Review training program performance (number of employees trained, percent participants passed, participant satisfaction).
  • Review project performance (cost, schedule, scope, stakeholder satisfaction, project team satisfaction).
  • Report program and project performance results.
Program Evaluation Report
Project Evaluation Report

The activities and deliverables listed above are indicative only. Each organization and each project will have its own specific requirements, so you will need to customize the list above to suit your own project’s particular circumstances.

Note also that a number of project variables are more clearly articulated and calculated as the project progresses through each phase. These variables included cost, schedule, requirements and risks, and as each of these is made more fully known, a go/no-go decision must be made at the end of each phase.

The defining project parameters remain fixed. These are project objectives, scope, deliverables and approach. When these vary throughout the project, it is a sign that insufficient effort was put in to defining the project at the outset and is an indication the proposed benefits may not eventuate.

The phases of the ADDIE model are also iterative in that the learnings resulting from the Evaluation phase are fed back in to the next project. In this way, each successive project may improve in its delivery of expected organizational benefits.

Training Project Management Phases

The diagram below summarizes the project stages, showing for each phase the objective, activity focus and deliverables.

Figure 1 – ADDIE Model Project Phases
Activity Focus Objective Deliverables
Plan Determine project feasibility and plan project execution Project benefits and costs accurately determined and project plan complete
  • Business Case
  • Project Definition
  • Project Plan
Analyze Analyze stakeholder requirements Training needs and other requirements accurately defined
  • Training Needs Analysis
Design Produce high-level training program design Design satisfies requirements identified in needs analysis
  • High-level Design
Develop Develop program materials, infrastructure and schedule Pilot program and implementation plan meet design requirements and accepted by client
  • Program materials/resources (list)
  • Evaluation instruments (list)
Implement Prepare program, schedule and train participants Participants successfully complete program
  • Completed participant assessments
  • Completed attendance forms
  • Completed participant feedback forms
Evaluate Review and report project and program effectiveness Evaluations accurately determine strengths and opportunities for improvement
  • Program Evaluation Report
  • Project Evaluation Report
Now that you are familiar with the ADDIE Model for progressing training projects, use Leslie Allan’s popular template pack to organize your project around the six phases. Complete with 14 customizable training project templates and bonus project measuring and reporting tool. Each template is fully customizable to meet the specific needs of your business and comes bundled with instructions on how to make full use of its power and versatility.
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