and an adviser on ASTD, eLearning Guild groups and other message boards I often hear “We are moving our training into eLearning. We need to track compliance training and produce a typical ‘Have/Have Not’ report. So what LMS should I buy?”
This limited view of the LMS’s role in learning strategy and the value it can bring to an organization is typical in the industry. Suggestions for informal learning such as peer networking and social media tools are readily available and I have previously noted how Accord can easily extend its core LMS capabilities to include these tools. In this article we will discuss more traditional, core eLearning LMS capabilities and explore the value they can bring to an organization to improve LMS ROI.
Proponents of Social Learning Systems often argue that LMS are too prescriptive and force too much structure onto learning assets for effective use in the workplace. However, there is tremendous value in providing structure and guidelines for learning assets to provide a clear development path. At certain levels and for certain functions in most organizations, clear career paths are critical and it is more an issue of guidance than coercion. In one of the LMS that I administer, there are over 67 thousand learning objects. While we do provide self-guided development and exploration through a catalog and search utility, I can assure you that most of my users are thankful for clear career paths, and structured programs.
An overlooked use for an LMS is to wrap information assets with tracking to effectively gain clarity on information access and use. For example, let’s say there is a change in one component of a process that everyone should review. It can be updated in a course providing this core training, but those who have already completed will not often re-review the course.
An effective design could be to deploy “update” training. Unlike common email announcements that provide no information on actual reading or any understanding regarding the change, you can provide a direct link to the LMS asset and track each user’s access. You could also add attestations, knowledge checks or other utilities to gain measures of agreement or knowledge regarding the change. This is just one example, but many different designs can support a myriad of business change and communications initiatives and also provide enhanced data back to stakeholders. Accord LMS provides tracking and for both SCORM content and non-SCORM learning assets. Asset utilization reports are much easier than most other LMS. Additionally, Accord can deploy the same document with different business rules applied to unique learning events. For example, in one learning path it may be a required component for course completion, in another path it could be optional.
Employees are an organization’s most important strategic asset. However, I find that most executives have more concrete, actionable data on tangible assets such as inventory and equipment, than the employees that generate the majority of value in the organization. Do executives truly know what percentage of their workforce are well aligned with strategic initiatives and have the skills to execute on strategy? If strategy is changing, do executives have an understanding of capabilities, bench strength and skills development of employees transitioning to new skills?
Although HRIS systems may house some of this data, my experience is that much of it is reported from external sources (i.e. college transcript data) or may be self-reported (employee profiles filled out by the employee) or reported by managers or project data (which introduces many variables and degrees of subjectivity into ratings). Training data can provide a wealth of information to executives to support key decisions regarding managing employees effectively. One level of this data is general course completion information and fulfillment of competency models. Targeted assessments can return very specific data about strategic initiatives in a short timeframe, providing high-value information to executives - even if the data may not tell the most flattering story.
While working with a very large financial organization during the past few years, the company’s strategy turned sharply from a sales culture to a collections culture. Performing collections activity was always part of the lending cycle, but it was clearly becoming the critical skill set to support the organization. Effort was put into developing enhanced training materials for the organization, along with high-fidelity collections scenarios with closely tracked performance metrics. Analysis showed that a majority (68%) of the employees were missing clear opportunities to permanently resolve a collections issue through loan consolidation. Thus, two-thirds of the workforce was not executing on the most effective collective strategy for both the customer and the organization. The impact metrics of how much the training influenced on-the-job behaviors and business results only averaged 12%.
Many training organizations would have reservations about sharing metrics with executives that demonstrate, despite the training provided, 68% of the employees are missing opportunities to use the most effective technique when it clearly applies. Furthermore, the training was not shown to be a major influence in changing business results. However, the information was shared in a forthright and honest fashion with upper management and gained the training team a seat at the table as a strategic partner. The executives appreciated what was shared as an indication of the true scope of the challenge that the organization was facing. They understood that demands for “more, better or revised” training had limited impact in driving results; that investigating in other factors with more leverage should be explored for more effective investment of effort.
This is just one example of how LMS-deployed assets and tracking provided significant amounts of actionable data to executives. They got a clear snapshot into their employees’ performance in key strategic areas, and could focus resources to achieve better results.
- strategic analysis for your executive team to understand gaps and focus resources
- guidance and tools for your employees to effectively understand their job and to develop their skills
- track resource utilization during key change initiatives
- much more than just compliance training
Are you fully utilizing your LMS investment?