Q: As a training consultant for technology companies in Southern California, I am asked every day to align training with the corporate goals of expediency, efficiency and value. My question, which I struggle to find a concrete answer to, is: How can I prove ROI on training? How can I prove efficiency? What is the model or tool to enable me to represent this to my clients so they will not only hire me but, more importantly, invest in the learning environment I am trying to create for them?
A: Learning leaders have been discussing ROI for decades and, unfortunately, we still don’t have consensus on standardized metrics for training efficiency.
Organizations differ in the way they determine the value of learning and the financial metrics that define the ROI of their training investments, so it is hard to give you one model to use with your clients. I personally believe that if a company executive is asking a CLO for the ROI of training, then that CLO should be looking for another job. If executives have to ask a CLO for “proof” that training is adding value, then those executives don’t value learning in their organization.
That said, I think it is important that all learning professionals understand the models and metrics that can quantitatively and qualitatively evaluate the efficiency of training programs. There are a few specific methods that I have used that I would recommend to you. Jack and Patti Phillips’ ROI Methodology provides specific formulas, models and financial metrics that resonate with global organizations across all industries. I encourage you to participate in one of their workshops and read their books on ROI. Another excellent resource is Robert Brinkerhoff’s Success Case Method, which uses case studies to demonstrate training value and impact. Throughout my career I have used Brinkerhoff’s impact maps to demonstrate the impact learning has on the organization.
Also, in my role as CLO for Qualcomm, I recently purchased Metrics That Matter. It’s a tool from Knowledge Advisors that evaluates specific training program metrics. I highly recommend that you understand the value a tool like this could have.
Q: What are some best practices regarding collaboration between learning leaders and executives in other human capital spaces, such as diversity and talent management or HR?
A: In recent years there has been increased alignment between core HR functional areas, and this alignment is continuing to evolve. Some of the specific trends include integrating the staffing or recruiting functions with the learning function; merging the performance management and learning functions; and grouping the learning, recruiting and compensation functions under one umbrella typically called talent management.
Whether the various components remain separate or become one centralized function, the most important element is the collaboration of the teams in achieving business goals. Sharing knowledge, initiatives and plans across all functions is critical for overall success in any HR organization. Executives respond best to functions that are well aligned and share the same vision.
Q: What is the role of the learning leader in bringing new technology into the enterprise and using it in a learning capacity? Will this entail greater collaboration with IT departments?
A: The role of the learning leader is to bring knowledge into the company and move knowledge across the company. IT departments can be great partners for learning organizations as they provide and maintain systems that can transfer and capture knowledge. New technologies are emerging, and there are many applications for using these technologies to benefit the learning function. For example, in many companies today, social technologies are being evaluated, purchased and maintained by IT departments. If there is a strong partnership between the IT and learning organizations, these tools may be effectively used for blended learning solutions, talent planning and curriculum design. Bringing new technologies into the enterprise is the joint responsibility of CLOs and IT leaders