How can L&D teams and training providers ensure they not only keep up with the needs of businesses and consumer-like learners, but also prove that what they do works? In this article, we’ll explore five ideas to help you deliver real elearning ROI and prove the business value of your learning.
1. Align your strategy to real business needs from the beginning
If a business leader says managers need training, do you understand why? To ensure your learning ventures will deliver real value to business leads, you need to come to grips with the performance improvements they need to see. This means acting a little bit more like a performance consultant than a learning designer and asking questions that take you closer to the real problem.
Try these questions:
- What evidence is there that there’s a performance problem or skills gap?
- What other factors could be involved? (learning may not be the (full) fix, after all)
- What have you tried already? (manager interventions, process improvements, etc.)
- What will tell you the problem has been fixed? (KPIs)
- Who will know if targets are being met?
Be honest: Is learning the answer? Is it down to communication, awareness, or a skills gap; a motivation gap; a process problem; a performance support issue; or something deeper (i.e., behavioral or cultural)? How systemic is it? If it turns out to be related to just a few people, this will shape your strategy, for sure.
Once you’re clear on what type of learning or performance support intervention might be needed, agree on the KPIs your project will target and how they will be measured.
Try using these example KPIs:
- Mystery shopper ratings will increase from 3/4 to 4/5 on average, by X date.
- Average customer queue times will drop from 4 to 3 mins, by X date – via spot checks.
- Production of X product will increase by 5% over the next quarter.
- Annual staff turnover in X and Y roles will reduce from 4/20 to 1/20.
2. Get close to learners and their world
It sounds obvious, but this often doesn’t happen. Talk to your customers (learners) so you can understand their needs, pain points, and learning preferences.
Don’t just go with what managers say is needed. After all, if you fail to engage your learners and provide something useful and relevant to them, you’ll hurt your chances of meeting those business KPIs and proving your elearning ROI.
- Use surveys alongside real conversations to find out what learners’ pain points are, when they feel them, and what they feel would help.
- Observe learners at work – Understand the task(s) you’re trying to help them improve.
- Find a performance hero – Watch and learn from an expert, create tangible benchmarks.
- Consider the short and long term – Separate the instant fixes from those that address long-term/preventative ones, which may be more training- and coaching-related.
Doing the above will help you figure out what kinds of performance enhancement content is needed and whether you need to invest in skill or behavioral learning, just-in-time content, or a bit of both. By talking with learners, you’ll have a good sense of how much time they have for learning, what devices they are most likely to use, where they’ll do it (on the train, at their desk), and what learning or support examples they’ve liked in the past.
All of this helps shape your learning strategy and should give you fodder for additional targets to measure against, to tell you if you are giving that audience what they need.
Create some additional targets for yourself to show you what your strategy is for engaging learners: Take-up? Completions? Shares? Frequency of use (for just-in-time support)?
3. Set up some data dashboards to keep track of KPIs and your elearning ROI
Realistically, business-level KPIs can take a while to come to fruition. In the meantime, you probably want to know that your efforts are hitting the mark with your primary customers–your learners. If they’re not, you’re unlikely to meet those KPI targets and demonstrate elearning ROI. You may not be doing any favors for your project reputation.
Set up some dashboards for your digital learning projects so you can keep track of how they are being used. By keeping track on a continuous basis, you can make changes to your strategy along the way and actively help learners on their journey to those all-important performance improvements.
Example of a trend tracker dashboard – powered by Elucidat
Doing this across multiple elearning projects means you can pass lessons from one to another and build a fuller profile of learning habits.
Combine this with regular conversations and further surveys, and you’ll increase your chances of hitting those targets to no end.
What might you look for?
If you’ve designed learning as performance support–to help salespeople with on-the-job product information, for example–you may expect mobile and tablet access to be high and time spent to be short but frequent. Completion is by-the-by, as it’s all about learners taking what they need, when they need it.
If you’re expecting learners to work through topics as a step-by-step course, you may expect time spent to be longer and for topics to be completed. If this isn’t the case, you may need to talk with learners and change course–perhaps available learning time only comes in short windows, and so shorter, bite-size topics are needed. Or, more are accessing it over mobiles than you’d expected, making longer topics more challenging to use.
You can also monitor data around how learners interact with content and answer key questions–especially ones that indicate their level of comprehension and skills application.
If you notice scores are continually low in a key area, you may have to provide further learning.
“Dashboards that enable continuous measurement of how digital learning is being accessed, when, where, how long for, alongside info about how the content is being interacted with and how indicative questions are being answered, is vital for any learning project. Combined with regular conversations with learners and managers, you’ll have everything you need for delivering value.”
With help-yourself elearning, uptake stats are really important, as they tell you how popular it is, but don’t jump to quick conclusions if uptake is low. It could be due to a lack of awareness of its existence, poor communication and marketing of its benefits, or manager support of the initiative. See tip 5 for more.
4. Adapt your processes so you’re nimble to needs
Be the team that responds to business needs by embracing nimbler, smarter processes; use tools that enable you to create and amend solutions quickly.Learners’ and business needs change and can emerge suddenly. If a sales team needs to push a new product’s development to keep ahead of new competitors, they need to be equipped with the knowledge to do so quickly. If businesses need to cut costs by tightening processes, you’ll need to get teams up to speed with those new processes fast.
You may also notice that part of your learning strategy isn’t working quite as well as you intended. Then, you’ll need to make some simple updates and republish it.
What won’t help in any of these situations is out of date processes that slow down your ability to move at speed and adjust to needs.
- Use collaborative technologies to stay on track – Keep business leads, experts, and learning professionals in the loop, together, with collaborative, online tools.
- Go for a central, collaborative authoring tool – Cut out paperwork and author elearning directly and smartly, as a team.
- Empower your team members to create and edit – Remove blockers and enable all team members to create and update content directly and quickly.
- Set-up reusable themes and assets to fast-track new projects.
- Invest in instant updates with cloud-based tools where updates are instant to all devices.
You can find out more about these tips and other ways to stay nimble and responsive in our guide “How to Accelerate the Production of High Quality Elearning.”
Sharing is caring! Collaborative authoring tools with in-built editing and commenting capabilities are not only great for getting content created quickly by teams, but also for bringing key stakeholders into the process. Use them to increase your chances of developing content that delivers real elearning ROI. Get some learners and business leads involved from the start.
5. Open up about your KPIs and elearning ROI
Measuring value and strategy improvements is only half of the story. The other half IS the story.
If you’re talking to learners and businesses about needs, creating solutions, and measuring their success by tracking data and capturing feedback from real users, you have a big story to share. Your story is even bigger if you’re continually improving what you do. Being open about your efforts to better meet people’s needs is more than OK; by making communication a two-way street, you’re more likely to get anecdotal feedback, support, and collaboration from your customers.
Research shows that employees who feel empowered and involved in their own development, and with the business at large, are more likely to stick around and to be more productive and innovative. If you’re looking to push for those important business level KPIs, getting learners on your side by involving them in the process of continual improvement is more likely to bring about the desired outcomes. This is a big bonus.
Do this by:
- Creating a communications strategy to work alongside your learning strategy, so you can shout about what you’re doing, why, and what you’re doing next.
- Including quotes and narrative stories as well as data as part of your sharing.
- Go wide, sharing and involving HR, business leads, learners, and managers.
- Running marketing-style campaigns about big initiatives, but also as a method of bringing about behavior and performance changes. Keep L&D alive and kicking in people’s minds.
Learn how analytics can improve the performance of your learning. Contact the Elucidat team to discuss Elucidat Analytics.
Related: Download our comprehensive guide to delivering business value from learning content
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