On-demand learning: What to look for and how to measure results


Measuring how much you put into training is easy. But measuring how much you’re getting out of that investment? That's a much more difficult number to pinpoint. If evaluating a learning solution seems daunting, you’re not alone. And maybe that’s why so many companies don’t do it. Sure, they track training costs and the number of people enrolled, but far too often, they skip over what matters: setting goals, measuring impact and proving ROI. Here’s where to begin:

ROI of training: Set goals

If you’re in the process of selecting a new training provider, you need to understand exactly what you’re trying to accomplish. When building out goals, you should be asking:

  • Are there specific skills your teams need to develop and maintain?
  • Is your business adopting new technologies your staff will need to support?
  • What are the business objectives you need to address?

Once you establish goals, get specific about your expected outcomes and how the solution will meet business needs:

  • Exactly which skills do teams need to acquire now?
  • Which skills will they need to add in the future to support new initiatives?
  • Are the solutions you’re considering dynamic enough to address all of these needs?
  • Is quality training content available as soon as the need arises, or do you have to wait until it's available?
  • Does the training provider’s process for creating material keep up with the pace of technological change? (Hint: probably not)

You should be able to discuss these questions with someone from your learning provider. Given the importance of your training program, settling for a solution that doesn’t meet your organization’s requirements can have a big (often negative) impact on the expected outcomes.

ROI of training: Measure your actual return on investment

Once you’ve chosen a solution, there’s a temptation to hope for the best and not worry about it. But if you want training to make a positive difference for your organization, your job is just beginning. Measuring the return on investment (ROI) of training ensures your program delivers the value your organization needs.

Accurately measuring the ROI of your training program starts with understanding your training investment. How much does it cost? And what does it include? If you use off-site training solutions, be sure to include travel expenses and lost work time while employees are away.

Next, measure the results. Review the expected outcomes you outlined when you started looking for your training partner. Then compare them to the results. The metrics you use might include: training hours consumed, courses completed, number of employees trained, individual performance, team performance, reductions in errors, increase in completed tasks or the launch of a new project using the newly acquired technologies.

Goals, like up-skilling employees to help them keep up with technological change, are critically important, but can be difficult to measure. (Hint: Here's a good method to measure ROI of training.) You can also look at how your training solution makes employees more valuable to your organization. Does it keep them more engaged with their work? Or make them more productive?

ROI of training: Gather performance metrics

To gather this information, start by looking at what you’re already tracking, like defect rates and task completion rates. To add detail to those numbers, survey employees about the value of the training on their performance. This can be done anonymously or you can interview employees face-to-face for more in-depth feedback.

Many training partners will even send a survey to your employees for you and analyze the results. They should also help you review usage data for your plan. For example, how often and for how long are employees using the resources? Are the trends holding steady or moving up? In some cases, your training vendor can provide an optimal user profile that you can use to establish baselines and recommendations for your own employees to emulate.

ROI of training: Set high expectations

Once you choose a training provider, you need to set expectations with your team about how they use it. How many hours a week should they use it? Which technologies should they focus on? Help guide them, or take a hands-off apporach to learning. Then, ensure employees have the time (Here are three ways your team can make time for learning.) and resources they need and can access and apply the solution you choose.

By matching your organization’s training goals with measured performance and clear expectations, you can go a long way toward making your training program a success.

Learn more from CEB, Inc., a leading insights best practice and technology consultancy, in this webinar on how to measure the effectiveness of your learning program. Tune into the full webinar below. 

Watch now: How to measure your learning solutions



Pluralsight is the technology skills platform. We enable individuals and teams to grow their skills, accelerate their careers and create the future.