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Importance of Measuring Corporate Learning Early and Often

Importance of Measuring Corporate Learning Early and Often

We’re pleased to bring you a short series by Kristin Thomas, Certified ROI Professional and Skillsoft Learning Consultant, covering the “why, what, where and how” of measuring learning. This first post in the series covers why it’s important to measure corporate learning early and often. 

By Kristin Thomas, Certified ROI Professional, Skillsoft Learning Consultant

The demand for ROI in corporate learning is up, but remains elusive for many L&D leaders. Why?

We know it’s being asked of us, but we have no clear strategy for calculating that figure.  Some of the reasons we shudder when asked about ROI include:

  • Our programs are not always designed to impact business metrics that can be easily monetized – sometimes a program is in place to simply satisfy the target learners, or an Executive Leader, without a direct link to measureable business improvement.
  • Differing definitions of ROI from all levels of the organization – we’re not all using the same definition of ROI and it can be a challenge to know what metrics our decision-makers really want to see from a learning program.
  • Our programs are not designed to collect the level of information needed to calculate a ROI – collecting data that can be monetized requires tools that can be time-sensitive, labor-intensive and often rely heavily upon learner follow-through.
  • Timelines are tight – we’re often pushed to get a learning program implemented quickly, leaving little time for planning how we’ll measure the success of the program.

The good news is that the ROI Institute, Inc. recommends that only 5-10% of our learning programs receive a full-fledged ROI analysis.  For most of us, that means only our most cost-intensive programs require this level of measurement.

% of Programs Evaluated Level of Evaluation
90-100% Reaction and Planned Action
60-80% Learning and Confidence
30% Application and Implementation
10-20% Business Impact
5-10% ROI

Source: ROI Institute, Inc.

But that doesn’t stop our C-Level from asking how the entire L&D expenditure is performing.  Providing a figure for this isn’t impossible, but it does require planning.  The common approach to program design leaves measurement to the last step, and with tight timelines, it’s often just overlooked altogether.

With the increasing pressure to deliver results, our programs must be developed with measurement on the front-end.  The C-Level is watching. We cannot afford to leave our measurement strategy to an after-the-fact guestimate.   Instead, start making simple changes today to move your programs to an outcomes-first mindset.

COMPARE. Are your programs Activity-Based or Outcomes-Based?

Activity-Based Programs: Outcomes-Based Programs:
  • No business need for the program
  • No assessment of performance issues
  • No specific measurable objectives
  • No effort to prepare program participants to achieve results
  • No effort to prepare the work environment to support the program
  • No efforts to build partnerships with key managers
  • No measurement of results or cost-benefit analysis
  • Reporting on programs is input focused (# of learners reached, # of completions, etc.)
  • Program linked to specific business needs
  • Assessment of performance effectiveness
  • Specific objectives for application and business impact
  • Results expectations communicated to participants
  • Environment prepared to support program
  • Partnerships established with key managers and clients
  • Measurement of results or cost-benefit analysis (ROI)
  • Reporting on programs is output-focused

Source: ROI Institute, Inc.

And remember, not all of our programs need to measure ROI or even Impact. Sometimes a program exists simply to satisfy employees or impart practical knowledge.  Measure the effectiveness of those programs with a basic learner evaluation form at the end of each ILT session or eLearning course, and reserve resource-intensive tools for measuring your key programs at higher levels.

Also Read:

How to Measure Corporate Learning – Learning Metrics Defined

Designing Outcomes-Based Corporate Learning Programs

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