I often ask people if their learning and development (L&D) function uses a quality assurance (QA) program. They sometimes reply saying that their QA is making sure courses include all the required design components.
That’s the wrong answer.
Again, many L&D professionals confuse tasks with results.
We discussed this before when we covered the difference between efficiency and effectiveness metrics. This thinking about quality assurance is another mental hurdle that L&D should leap over.
Measurement Is the QA of Training
I would like to help our industry — and the businesses they interact with — understand this: A measurement program for learning is the same as a QA program. Without measurement, you can’t compute the quality of your programs and you have no data to show anyone else.
Quality control (QC) and QA are important measures that are foundations for most businesses. Businesses assume these types of measures occur in every department. They expect metrics and data from all business groups. They understand QA is simply “good business.”
However, most people in L&D and, in fact, most businesses do not understand that learning measurement is the QA program for learning.
Every year, L&D has trouble securing budget for measurement. Why?
Because leadership does not understand what measurement means when it comes to learning. (Have you had trouble securing budget for training measurement? Here are tips to help. And a post coming later this month will provide even more tips for making budget time easier.)
QA is the easiest way to think about it. Using that concept helps align the language (and practices) of L&D in a way that business understands.
Is It a Language Barrier?
We’ve said before that often L&D and business aren’t speaking the same language. This word choice is one way to change that.
We use the term “measurement” in L&D because that is the term that has emerged when people describe the “unknown” value of learning. But, the truth is, measurement in learning is the same as a QA program.
Most departments in an organization have QA/QC programs. They have ways to assure that the product/service/process they deliver is of good quality.
The finance department uses auditors. Operations measures errors. Manufacturers measure material scrap. Engineers use modeling to test stress loads. You get the picture.
Every group has quality measures of some kind to prove the effectiveness of their product. Quality assurance (through measurement) is just a routine part of business.
For learning, measurement of results in terms of knowledge and skill, is the way to ensure the quality of learning design and facilitation.
If L&D designs a program well then, by measuring the results, you will see that the program achieved the intended increase in knowledge, skills, and behavior. If it did not, then measurement also allows you to diagnose and repair the learning program to improve the design quality and get better results.
Do you think there’s a language barrier between L&D and business? Do you see the connection between training measurement and QA? If you need help making this connection, please contact us.