Measuring ROI can often seem daunting, especially in large, complex organisations.
We can sometimes feel like we have no control over ROI – or even that it’s impossible. This could explain why less than half of organisations surveyed in a recent report are currently using data to support learner engagement.
One of the key problems we hear is that L&D departments are not getting the support they need from the business when it comes to collecting data. But sometimes L&D don’t believe they have the right to ask for this information – or have no easy way to collect it.
The thing to remember is that ROI is all about value. In uncertain times, one of the first things that can be pulled is the L&D budget. So it is vital to measure your ROI, and share the data with key stakeholders.
Why? Because the more ROI data you collect, the more likely you are to secure your next project. If we can prove our worth to the business, we can advocate for our work as L&D practitioners.
Our number-one tip for meaningful ROI analysis is always to get much closer to the business, to help you identify the metrics that matter for your organisation.
If we are removed from the business, it’s much harder to connect with stakeholders and get them on board with data collection - so focus on being close to the business first and foremost.
But there are several other things you can being doing too.
Consider the big picture
If you have clear goals and objectives for your learning, then you will be well placed to assess its impact – both for the learners and the wider business.
You will want to think about wider performance impact, considering what it means for individuals’ performance (can they apply the learning to their day-to-day work?), and how this will influence overall business results in the long run.
What business challenges can L&D help to overcome? What skill gaps will the learning need to address? To take one example, if your call centre is struggling to handle the volume of calls, you need to know whether this is down to call handlers’ lack of efficiency or a lagging IT system. Knowing the answers to these questions will help you identify whether it is L&D that can solve the problem, or something else.
Apply design thinking
If you want to commit to measuring ROI, you need to start with design, rather than tack it on at the end. One way that we do this is to build it into the design of our learning programmes.
If you’ve identified what you want to find out, you’ll be able to monitor the right metrics from the start.
It could be a short questionnaire used before and after the learning, gathering learners’ scores on their ability and confidence with each learning objective and comparing them later. Or, it can be as simple as tracking how long users are spending watching a video, for example.
If you can tell us what data you need to collect, our instructional designers can make sure we create a bespoke solution that works for you.
A creative and inventive way of gathering ROI is to use the social tools available to you.
Using social media networks is a great way of gathering evidence. While this might not give you the numbers you want, it might give you more qualitative data.
Creating a peer-to-peer learning environment using social platforms like Slack or Yammer, or closed groups on Facebook or LinkedIn, means people can share how they're applying the learning, coach and support each other and, of course, share their successes.
In this safe environment, learners can discuss how they’re applying the learning and what the outcomes are when they’re asking for support or sharing their success in these groups.
It can be easier for people to explain what they got out of the learning in this way, when it is still fresh in their minds, rather than asking them to think back, out of context, weeks or months later.
It’s L&D’s job to monitor these discussions and identify trends – both positive and negative – as they will inform your ROI calculations. You could even create focus groups on these platforms to collect feedback and provoke reflection.
If you really want to demonstrate your value to the learners and the business, then mastering how to collect ROI data is essential. Test out different ways of tracking ROI to find out what works for you - and remember, ROI doesn’t need to be hard!
If you’re interested in finding out more about measuring ROI in learning, why not take a look at our whitepaper ‘Learning metrics that matter’?
Stephanie Morgan FLPI, Director of Learning Solutions, Bray Leino Learning
Sharing ideas and observations to help improve performance.