Today this 3rd blog of the Training Analyst, talks about measuring the business benefits of the training we are being commissioned by our stakeholders to provide. Previous blogs on this topic have discussed the need for a mindset shift by training professionals (read blog here), who also need to understand the way costs for training are calculated (read blog here).
But before we start, let’s be clear. Many courses we organise for our managers and staff need to be run – induction, health and safety, changes in the law and so on. Of course, we could look at costs and benefits to this training but generally the business need is one of compliance, and Directors, in certain cases, may be liable if there is a breach.
The general point is that in measuring benefits (and costs) it is worth prioritising when looking at return on investment. It does require effort and time (and probably a change in mindset) but if investing significant amounts of money, then the organisation might rightly expect that the benefits exceed the cost, meeting the internal requirements for a positive return on investment.
What training programmes might lend themselves to measuring the benefits?
As already mentioned, the first criteria would be where the costs are significant. So the programmes might be around technical training or management development, where say 25 people are attending a 2 week course. In other words a high impact programme that is costly (remember staff salaries and opportunity costs from previous blogs).
How do we measure benefits?
Rest assured that such in signing off such a training investment, someone, somewhere will be asking the question – for all the cost and inconvenience, what is the benefit?
This is when perseverance is needed. Often, the benefits are assumed and training professionals may collude with business heads, effectively saying the training is needed, people are bound to perform better, lets get on with it.
Compare this approach with asking the business head about what benefits they want to see – hence the perseverance. Are they looking for efficiency (for example, quicker processing time, more production/output, less cost, higher quality, fewer complaints/rework) or capacity building (more people able to do to things to allow more output to be achieved) or something else? This approach is getting to the heart of the business and starts to integrate training as a business partner.
Once we know what the business benefits are, then we can start to measure both the current position, and the position after the training programme has been run. To begin with we may need help – from finance, from operations, from customer service – from specialists who are comfortable with measurement and understand the issues.
Is it worth it?
Probably, only for the big training interventions given the time and effort required. Yet by starting this journey, you will be asking questions that perhaps have never been asked before. You will be trying to quantify, in monetary terms, the improvement as a result of your training initiative. Even if you aim for a 20% return on investment and ‘only’ achieve 12% you will have learnt a huge amount, changed the perception of what training can do, and, most likely, raised your profile in ways that may be career changing.
So what’s next?
If these comments excite you, then why not join us on The Training Analyst seminar in Kuala Lumpur between 2-6 July 2018. Taught by Stephen Cowburn MBA, FCIPD and senior consultant with GLOMACS, this training will help HR and Training specialists learn how to measure benefits and so complete the equation in measuring the Return on Investment. By approaching your work in this way, you will be talking the same language and using the same disciplines as those in finance and operations, helping you and your function be seen as genuine business partners.
You may have a current training project that you are working on but have hit a brick wall in terms of either selling it, or seeking to measure the benefits. A feature of the workshop is space to have 1-1 time with the tutor to discuss the problem and consider options, or, alternatively, to share the challenge with the group and get suggestions from your peer group.