A common question asked of e-learning developers is: “What value do you bring to the organization?” While this is a question that any worker might face, anecdotal evidence suggests that people in the training field get this question much more frequently than other employees. As a result, e-learning developers often wonder how to measure and demonstrate the value of their work. To help you have a clear, convincing answer at your fingertips, I’d like to tell you about two approaches you can use to link value to your work.
Impact the Bottom Line
The best way to show the value of your work is to demonstrate that your online training courses impact the bottom line of the business. Did your course lead to an increase in sales? Did it lead to a decrease in mistakes on the production line? Or how about an increase in customer satisfaction? If you can show this type of impact, then you can easily show your value. Of course, that begs the question, How exactly is that done?
To start, you need to be proactive. When tasked with creating an e-learning course, don your performance consulting hat immediately and begin investigating the reason for the course. Why does the requester feel there is a need for the course? What business goal will the course impact? What behavioral change are they trying to elicit? Is there a stated time period for observing and measuring the changes? These conversations will oftentimes lead to measurable objectives.
Here’s an example:
Boss: I need you to build a course to train our plumbers on how to install the PVC9000.
You: Awesome, can I ask a few questions?
You: Can you give me some background on the reason for the course?
Boss: We’re getting a lot of calls from clients who state that the PVC9000 is malfunctioning. Turns out there are some common mistakes our plumbers are making.
You: What are we doing for training now?
Boss: All plumbers receive an intensive one-day hands-on training on installation procedures.
You: Okay, so it sounds like we don’t need to repeat the same training, but rather to focus on the specific mistakes the plumbers are making.
Boss: That’s a good point. No need to spend time on areas where they’re already succeeding.
You: Right. What are the common mistakes you’re seeing?
Boss: Well, there are three things really. They’re failing to tighten the QCR lugnut, they’re connecting the fenco coupling with slot A instead of B, and they’re not finishing the job with a quality-control three step.
You: So if we could get the plumbers to do these three things correctly, we’d see a positive outcome?
Boss: Yes, this would reduce the amount of faulty installs by 75 percent.
You: So, to sum, we’ve got three common mistakes the plumbers are making, and you’d like a training course that addresses all three mistakes. And if we’re successful, we should see a drop in faulty installs of 75 percent?
Boss: You’re smart.
You: That’s why you hired me.
Your overall goal in the conversation is to narrow the scope of the course to a specific and measurable outcome. Why? Because you can’t measure vague outcomes such as “we need to train people to talk more nicely to customers.” And if you can’t measure the outcome, you can’t demonstrate your value.
In the above example, the goal of your course might be something along the lines of “decrease faulty installs of the PVC9000 by 75 percent during the second fiscal quarter.” The boss also gave you three great course objectives:
After completing this course, the learner will:
- Correctly tighten the QCR lugnut
- Connect the fenco coupling to slot B instead of slot A
- Finish all installs of the PVC9000 with a quality-control 3 step
From here, you design your course with activities that will lead to the behavioral outcomes you seek. When your course changes employee behavior, it impacts the bottom line of the business.
Now, it’s possible that not every course is going to allow for this type of approach. For example, some compliance courses are notoriously difficult to measure. Here’s another way to highlight the value of your work.
Show the Cost Advantage of Online Learning
Online training is often less expensive than traditional classroom training. An easy way to show the value of your training is a simple cost comparison chart between the two methods. Consider all of the elements that are involved in traditional classroom training that you avoid with online training. If you don’t have these numbers handy, you can call around to various vendors to estimate the cost of a face-to-face training.
Let’s say you have a distributed sales force that you wish to bring to a central location for a six-hour training session. Let’s look at the potential costs that you might run into. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are some cost categories, along with some possible numbers:
Traditional Classroom Training
Room rental (if your facility can’t handle the entire team): $500
Technology rental (if rental facility requires you to use their projector equipment): $150
Food (lunch or dinner): $2,000
Travel expenses (gas, flights, etc.) for team members coming to the training: $3,000
Printed materials: $400
Prep time for trainer: $1,500
Trainer’s time: $400
E-learning developer’s salary: $4,000
Course assets (images, audio): $750
Contracted work (narration, instructional design): $2,000
LMS support: $1,000
While the numbers aren’t too far apart, keep in mind that once an e-learning course is designed, it can be delivered again and again without the recurring costs of traditional classroom training. Additionally, the e-learning route makes it easy to quickly update and distribute an online training module to people regardless of their location.
You can collect the financial numbers for both methods and then create a quick side-by-side comparison to show to the boss, like this:
Another method to calculate value that isn’t used as often as the two above but still illustrates value: opportunity cost. Let’s say your sales reps average $1,000 in sales per day. But, you need to fly them in for this face-to-face training. Not only do you have the cost of the flight, food, trainer, etc., but you’re also sidelining them from earning sales on those days. So for reps spending three days offline at a traditional training (two days to travel, one day for the training), your organization is losing significant money; with an e-learning course your reps are only offline for one day.
Demonstrating your value to the organization may seem overwhelming at first. When landing a new project, we usually don’t think “I’d better start measuring what I’m doing so I can show my value!” But this is precisely what you should do. By being proactive, asking the right questions, and collecting the necessary information, you can demonstrate just how valuable you are to the team.
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