Business Case for e-Learning Upgrade

Jan 08, 2013

Hi there, One of my professional goals this year is to research and recommend future educational technologies for the organization. It's sort of a prepurchase due diligence assignment. I've been recently promoted and so, well, I've never done this sort of job responsibility before. To create e-learning courses we currently use Articulate Studio '09.  I know that Studio '13 is going to be released and Storyline is out and sounds like it has been well received overall.  I'm probably going to take a look at a few other applications too, so leadership receives an unbiased report from me (although I kind of have a bias, you know...).  I've got a fuzzy image in my mind at this point of maybe doing a cross between an expanded product comparison, such as this one: and doing a traditional business case report. (

Has anyone put anything like this together before? How did you present your findings or comparison of e-learning applications? What kind of information did you include?

6 Replies
Kevin Thorn

Hi Kimberly,

Congratulations on your promotion!

While there are several ways to approach this assignment (and I'm confident others will have suggestions), part of my responsibility in my old job was just that - to research, analyze, and compare competing technologies each year. About every 2-3 years we would upgrade or move to a different platform/toolset.

A lot depends on your org's budget. If you're talking specifically about elearning authoring tools or does this assignment also include LMS platforms or other emerging technologies? In our case we invested in several authoring tools/environments because different projects needed different approaches.

A lot of what's missed when orgs invest in authoring tools is their long-term strategy for their Training & Development efforts. It's no secret the tablet market is on the rise, performance support material is making a comeback, delivery mechanisms are constantly evolving, etc. etc. The good folks at Articulate are one such company that is keen on the market and its direction, so bias aside I can honestly say among the competitors you get more than just a piece of software - you get a company dedicated to improving our productivity with their products and you get THE best community.

Things to consider when comparing:

  • Output (Flash, HTML5, iOS, etc.)
  • Tracking and Reporting (SCORM, AICC, and the new Experience API or TinCan API)
  • Learning curve - is it a tool with proprietary coding and development skills 
  • Does your org do a lot of design (storyboarding) in PPT - does the tool accept and import PPT files?
  • What's the vendor's support structure? Forums, user conferences, etc. (can be best tool but with no support what's the point)

Hopefully this helps kick start your thought process.

Kimberly Read

All good points, thanks for getting my brain's gears going, Kevin.

To answer a few of your questions, we replaced our LMS about two years ago - so no need for me to go digging around for a new LMS at this point (whew). The leader that really wants this analysis is thinking she would like the e-learning design team to do more simulations and provide greater interactivity in e-learning courses. I suspect I could make a good case for improving our webinar delivery tool as well (and that's the only technology that facilitates social learning that they are willing to consider right now). Mobile learning is something our physicians have been wanting for a long time, so that would be a plus.

Thanks for the ideas, please feel free to keep them coming!

Alan Landers

Hi Kimberly,

I was VP of Training for a Fortune 250 and several others along the way. I've also consulted to the Fortune 500 for over 20 years.   I'm just going to offer some ideas from a guy whose been around the block many times.

First, you were promoted because you were the best qualified for the position you now have.  Senior management isn't going to make a decision for you. They know very little if anything about designing and creating eLearning.  You are going to make it for them! You are their expert.  So the decision is really yours.

My most recent CEO said to me: "Alan I need you to do what you do. If you need those tools to do it, then get them." Of course I had to find a tool, justify the costs and then show how I was going to recoup those costs from the programs I would create.

Showing them a bunch of tables, charts, etc. with the features and benefits of various programs isn't important.  Yes, I know execs like numbers.  The numbers they like are pretty simple.  You just have to present a business and cost/benefit analysis to them justifying your decision.  And, I'm going to be really honest here... all they care about are results.

Here's an example:  Let's say you're going to spend $7,500 for 3 or more licenses.  Let's assume you used your comparison tables and made a decision.  You have to tell executive management:

  1. Why this specific program is important to the success of the organization (it allows you to do something that can't be done now, and is vitally important to do. (e.g. create a corporate-wide program to reduce waste, increase productivity, etc. basically - solve an important problem)
  2. How the training you create with it will make or save money (with projections)
  3. Why that's important to your company. (repeating won't be bad)
  4. How long it will take to recoup costs and generate a return on the investment (don't get hung up on ROI - make it simple)
  5. How easy it is to fit into your current IT situation. 

If you can do that, execs don't really care what you buy.  So, get the tools you want to do what you know needs to be done. Then make it so #1.

Call me if you'd like 619 397-0275


Bob S

Hi Kimberly,

This kind of thing is often best handled with a "so what?" kind of mentality. What I mean by that is that the best new features and technology in the world are pointless ("so what") until you tell the stakeholders how it will benefit them. We need to frame it in terms of the business needs, or "pain points" as I'm often fond of talking about.

For example, we all know HTML5 output is cool. So what? This new authoring tool will allow us to start building a library of short skill-building modules we could deploy via smartphone so we can finally reach our outbound salesfolks where they live. This will address the current issue of non-office salespeople having little practical acess to our materials.

Today it's not enough for us to just be good trainers. We need to be good business partners too. And that starts with understanding what the pain points are in the business and finding ways to address them.

Hope this helps,


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