PACT CAD – A Macro-ISD Design – Systems Engineering of Learning

The Purpose of Curriculum Architecture Design
The Curriculum Architecture Design (CAD) process generates the overall design for an entire T&D product line. The design is high-level (macrolevel), systems-oriented, and modular. The design identifies
• Where (within the scope of the design) training needs exist
• Currently existing T&D that addresses the training needs
• Gaps where no existing training addresses the training needs
• Which gaps are high-priority and should be filled by new or updated training

In summary, the Curriculum Architecture Design process identifies all of the T&D that could be and then prioritizes efforts to build all of the gap T&D that should be.

The purpose of designing the entire T&D product line is so that business decisions can be made regarding which of the current gap T&D products (those where no existing training product addresses a training need) should be developed or acquired. By developing or acquiring such products, the T&D organization brings them “to market,” making them available for T&D customers. The methods to bring them to market – so to speak – can involve any ISD process, rapid or less rapid.

But having a CAD design as a blueprint insures that less gaps and overlaps will be your end result if you employee a rapid approach and let any/all SMEs and ISDers create content. This frames their activities so you’ll have less inadvertent redundancy and the redundant first costs and life cycle cost from that redundancy – to protect Shareholder Equity from being squandered!!!

The macrolevel design of the T&D product line also helps identify which of the existing T&D products require maintenance before it is used for the target audience or audiences of the CAD effort.

The alternative, of course, is to let “whatever” happen. And then live with those consequences.

CAD is one of the PACT Processes…PACT is an acronym…

CAD is one of 5 methodology-sets of PACT…


A Curriculum Architecture Design process leads to a number of analysis and design outputs.

Analysis outputs include target audience data, Performance Models, Knowledge/Skill Matrices, and assessments of existing T&D. These outputs are explained in more detail in Chapter 2 of lean-ISD:Overview of the PACT Process for Analysis, and in Chapters 21–27, which are devoted to analysis.

The design outputs include specifications for training and development components, called T&D Modules. The outputs also include specifications for T&D Events, which are simply packages or groupings of modules for use by T&D customers.

The key design output of PACT CAD is one or more T&D Paths (or Learning Paths, or Learning Menus, or Learning Continuum, etc., etc. – a rose is a rose is a rose – by any name).

Curriculum Architecture Design Teams
Success of the Curriculum Architecture Design process depends on teams with specific responsibilities. The teams involved in a CAD process include
• A Project Steering Team of T&D customers and stakeholders to oversee the project
• An Analysis Team of customer representatives along with an instructional design professional to perform the analysis work
• A Design Team of customer representatives along with an ISD professional to develop the actual Curriculum Architecture Design
• An Implementation Planning Team of project stakeholders to assign priorities to the prospective T&D to be acquired or developed

Involved with all of these teams is a project manager along with ISD professionals from the ISD Team.

CAD Phase 1

In Phase 1: Project Planning & Kick-off, the project manager and the Project Steering Team plan the Curriculum Architecture Design project. Interviews are conducted, a Project Plan is drafted, and a Project Steering Team is assembled.

The Project Steering Team conducts its first gate review meeting. Gate review meetings involve customers and key stakeholders and are held to review project progress, check work products, and provide approvals for further action. The first gate review meeting is to
• Review and sanction the project.
• Modify the Project Plan or put the project on “temporary hold.”
• Cancel the project if it doesn’t meet a priority business need.
In this phase, the Project Steering Team handpicks members of the Analysis Team.

CAD Phase 2
In Curriculum Architecture Design Phase 2: Analysis, target audience data is gathered and preparations and logistics for the Analysis Team meeting are coordinated.

During the Analysis Team meeting, the team generates the Performance Model and the Knowledge/Skill Matrix data. After the Analysis Team meeting, existing T&D is assessed to see how that training addresses needs identified in the Performance Model and Knowledge/Skill Matrix.

All of the analysis activities are documented in an Analysis Report. The project manager and analyst present the report to the Project Steering Team during the Phase 2 gate review meeting. During the gate review meeting, the Project Steering Team verifies and approves the findings, or changes them as necessary.

CAD Phase 3
In Curriculum Architecture Design Phase 3: Design, the project manager and designer begin by preparing for the CAD design efforts. Then a Design Team meeting is conducted.

In the Design Team meeting, all of the potential modules of the architecture are identified, classified, and numbered. The team combines these modules into T&D Events and constructs T&D Paths for learners―sequences of events appropriate for target audiences.
The results are compiled in a Design Document and formally presented to the Project Steering Team, which reviews these at the gate review meeting.


CAD Phase 4
In Curriculum Architecture Design Phase 4: Implementation Planning, an Implementation Planning Team is formed.

This team prioritizes the gap T&D Events and Modules. Modules of highest priority will be developed using the Modular Curriculum Development PACT Process or some other ISD process.

In parallel, development cost heuristics are developed and applied to forecast the cost implications of implementing the CAD’s top priorities.

The final priorities and cost implications are then presented to the Project Steering Team for review and reaction.

In some projects, the Project Steering Team performs the Implementation Planning Team’s “prioritization of gaps” function during the Phase 3 gate review and during Phase 4 is asked to “macroplan” their development/acquisition.

Business Implications of the Curriculum Architecture Design Process
The purpose of the Curriculum Architecture Design process is never to bring to market all of the T&D Events and Modules specified in the design―only those T&D products that truly make business and economic sense. Corporate resources are always too limited to allow unfettered T&D development within the enterprise.

The Curriculum Architecture Design process systematically creates a blue sky, ideal, performance-based CAD. Based on the design, key management representatives on the Project Steering Team decide where to place their strategic training “bets.” Only when the projected return on investment on the proposed training meets with the approval of customers and stakeholders is that training slated for development or acquisition.

The role of ISD professionals is to facilitate the process of customers and stakeholders making critical T&D decisions. The decisions about which training products to bring to market and which products to maintain are primarily business decisions. Customers and stakeholders―more than ISD professionals―are the ones who live with the consequences of poorly targeted resources that develop the wrong T&D. And when ISD professionals develop T&D with limited customer involvement, they are often the objects of blame for T&D that is costly or that doesn’t produce results.

Address All Needs?

Just because ISD professionals are adept at uncovering knowledge and skill requirements does not automatically warrant addressing them all. No one in the ISD community ever has the insight necessary to select the T&D with the most significant returns for customer/stakeholder organizations. Furthermore, when ISD tries to put together an often overly complicated ROI algorithm to prove where strategic bets should be placed, ISD is too often seen as not working with and for the customer. We seem to be arrogantly telling them what’s best for them.

Usually the customer can rationally decide what’s best, if confronted in the right manner with the right data, as the Curriculum Architecture Design approach dictates. That’s why we need to engage customers and stakeholders systematically in this CAD process for business decision-making. We can handle the ISD decision-making. Let customers and stakeholders handle the business decision-making. We need to be cognizant that it’s their money being invested in T&D, not ours.

One Thing Leads to Another

The book: lean-ISD is available as a free 404-page PDF at

There are also articles, presentations and Podcasts available on PACT – on the EPPIC web site – all free!!!

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