Play office politics. Use (other people’s) data. Stroke egos. Cater to pet projects. This was the advice that I read recently in an article aimed at learning professionals trying to secure their annual budget. There were a couple helpful nuggets in the article, but it mostly focused on the political side of the budget process. Yes, I know in corporations, sometimes office politics overrides good sense. Even so, there are much better ways to secure your L&D budget. Most include using solid data (from your own programs) and linking your programs directly to business objectives. So why does this topic about securing budgets come up every year? One reason: learning professionals still don’t know how to measure their programs or quantify their value. L&D attempts to measure their learning programs falter in these ways:
You’re not measuring anything. Far too many organizations are taking no measures of their training impact at all. This leaves them completely bereft of data and without information to prove their value.
You’re measuring the wrong thing. Some L&D pros are taking measurements, but they are measuring the wrong thing. Again, too many organizations are satisfied with “smiley sheet” survey data. As I’ve said before, smiley sheets are pointless. They tell you if students like the material and instructor, but do not measure if the learning program had any impact on the business. Some L&D groups are also using LMS data as their measuring tool. Again, most LMS programs only tell you how many students took training or how many courses were completed. They offer no insight into the business impact of a learning program.
You’ve gotten smarter about measurement…but you’re still measuring the wrong thing. The good news is that many L&D professionals are on-board with measuring their training. They understand this is vital to showing their value to their businesses. Unfortunately, many are choosing the strategic metrics as their measure. Strategic metrics include things like retention rates, employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction, cost of goods sold, and profit. Why is this the wrong path? Strategic metrics are influenced by many factors. Because of that, you cannot isolate the impact of learning on those types of metrics.
There is an answer to securing your annual budget. It starts with learning what and how to measure your learning programs. Take these steps to keep your annual budget intact: Design your learning programs to focus on outcomes. As a learning program designer, you must know how to create a plan with objectives, instructional methods, and evaluations that lead directly to a behavior outcome. Then you must tie behavior changes to measurable business metrics (not strategic metrics, but operational metrics). That’s the only path to creating measurable learning design that solves business problems. Tie learning to business metrics. As I said above, learning must be connected to the right metric. Operational metrics are the ones that show if behavior changed, which then should lead to performance improvement. Advertise success. Share your success with business owners and stakeholders. Show evidence that your learning program changed behavior, which then created a positive business outcome. Once you start measuring the right things, it becomes easier to deliver reports that your stakeholders can use and trust. It also shows them the value of L&D. At eParamus, our Measurable Instructional Design certification teaches people the basic structure of instructional design. With this toolkit, you’ll know how to create measurable learning programs. Want more info? Contact us here at eParamus. Please follow eParamus on LinkedIn and feel free to connect with me, Laura Paramoure, PhD to discuss the learning challenges you face.