Thursday, April 17, 2008

Learning ROI

In the ASTD big question - what would I like to do better is communicate ROI on training investments across the organization.

*Bam* the very next day this comes out from Chief Learning Officer. The rest of the organization speaks in dollars and cents, revenues and expenses, if you don't speak in their language you're done. Getting the right metrics is key. In software training, what type of metrics can we use?

The whole point of training initiative is to meet a performance objective. For me this often means supporting a new rollout. Perhaps we need to tie specific modules to tasks in the project. Then post go-live managers can monitor and match training completion to "real-world tasks". After completing the report writing topic, have the user create a report. How well did they complete the task? If they did well - great. If they didn't, how does the real task compare to what they accomplished in class? Are the tasks comparable?

There is a great deal of discussion that ROI is not an appropriate metric for learning, I don't know if that's an acceptable answer for anyone in a corporate environment. Everything comes down to the bottom line. I recently came across "Developing and Measuring Training the Six Sigma Way: A Business Approach to Training and Development" by Kaliym A. Islam. I haven't gotten my hands on it yet but I'm looking forward to evaluating learning programs without the classic Kirkpatrick's 4 Levels.

What other tangible methods of learning are available?

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