This is part two of a four-part series on how L&D teams can effectively evaluate, measure, and demonstrate the business impact of their learning and development programs. Read part one here.
To measure the impact of learning, you have to collaborate with other departments and align your learning and talent functions with the business strategy. This generally requires three steps:
- Understand the business strategy and what the business needs from employees.
- Plug into the talent development strategy to identify the skills and talent you need to deliver.
- Evaluate where you have coverage, strength, and proficiency, as well as gaps and opportunities.
If you don’t have the right skills to meet the business needs, you may need to do some reskilling or upskilling and talent mobility before unleashing an effective training program. Of course, you don’t have to have it all figured out, but you should understand the full picture so you can create a path forward.
It’s difficult to prove the impact of training without clearly defined benchmarks so you can start there. For example, how do you know your training is effective? What does ‘effective’ mean to your business? Is it compliance? Is it moving the needle on a specific KPI? How do you know what levers to pull to consistently drive the desired performance and business results?
Learning Analytics and Business Outcomes
Demonstrating learning’s impact is a high priority, but what exactly do we mean when we say, ‘learning analytics’ or ‘learning impact’? In a nutshell, it means marrying your learning data with data from your business systems to better understand the bigger picture.
You can create the first layer of the foundation by taking inventory of what the business needs from employees and linking it back to competencies, skills, behaviors, and attitudes.
Then, if you take time to understand what employees need from the business, you can layer that in. When you take a combined look, you can start to identify areas where you have training content and areas you don’t, and you can now start to bridge that gap more effectively.
What Is Your Level of Learning Analytics Experience?
It helps to know where you are currently on your learning analytics journey to discover the path ahead. Are you at level one, two, or three?
Many L&D teams find themselves at level one. They rely on reports and export simple data from the LMS that is often limited to measuring compliance or completion rates.
If you’ve moved to the second tier, you’ve been able to partner with your IT Team. Perhaps they’ve built something like a ‘data lake’ or ‘data warehouse’ where they combine data from all business systems to create a scorecard. But in most cases, they’re still only looking at completion and compliance data from the LMS.
If you’re not building learning with a competency focus, you’re still not able to fully explore its impact without drawing conclusions based on assumptions.
In other words, would you prefer to assume that turnover improved because training was at 100% compliance? Or would you prefer to know that a specific competency was impacted that translated to an increase in impact and performance?
You have to determine which level of analytics will help you:
- Keep the business going and adapt at the same time
- Keep people productive while reskilling and upskilling to improve performance in the new strategy
- Strengthen skills and close gaps only where needed
- Understand the skills available and how learning impacts reskilling and upskilling
Once you make that determination, you can learn how to connect your learning analytics to business impact, which is the focus of our next article in this series.
Part three of this four-part series will cover which KPIs are most important to your company, how to plug your learning into those, and then identify the touchpoints you can measure.
Want to identify the skills gap at your organization? Download our free Skills & Competency Framework to get started.