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Essential Skills

for data & business professionals

August 29, 2017 // Learning, Leadership

7 Ways to Make a Business Case for e-Learning

Written by Jane Quinn Saiz

 

Over the past few years, we’ve noticed that the managers who were most successful in implementing e-learning had a few common characteristics. One characteristic was that they understood the importance of the dynamics of effective implementation. This knowledge enabled them to not just deliver results but also allowed them to deliver the case for the right type of training at the very start of the process. The reality is that you won't be able to effectively achieve your e-learning goals without buy-in from key stakeholders. In this post, we'll take a look at the mechanics of buy-in and persuasion. There are 7 key steps to making your case:

1. Define Your Need

Identify the specific type of training your employees require to become more productive, efficient and engaged in their jobs. What are the gaps in their skill set? Investigate which e-learning training course is best suited to their needs. Take into consideration time constraints, need for flexibility and employee motivation. Examine alternatives and take care to weigh up all options, gathering information on cost per employee and benefits over time. Compare and contrast the benefits and disadvantages of each. While features are important, don't value them at the expense of the depth and precision of the actual training content.

2. Identify Key Players

Identify the key players in the decision-making process. Each of these players will have aims, goals or perspectives that are tangentially related to those in other areas. Wherever possible, identify common goals so as to deliver a case that will have sections aimed at each interest specifically.

3. Align The Goals

It is essential to align the interests of the company with the interests of the employees. Explain the cost of disengagement and attrition in the workplace. Demonstrate how it is in the best interests of the company to invest in the education of their employees in such a way that it will not only benefit them in the short-term, but also contribute to enterprise value in the long run.

4. Research Your Rebuttals

There are bound to be objections to the concept of e-learning as a business necessity, so be ready to combat these with well-researched facts and statistics. Backing up words with numbers is fundamental to the persuasiveness of the argument. Arguments against e-learning programs will usually be related to either relevance or effectiveness. A lack of relevance will typically come from failing to follow the preceding steps. On the other hand, concerns about effectiveness tie directly into an understanding of implementation. Ultimately, this step needs to cover not only the caliber of content and technology involved, but also the internal processes and supports in place for a smooth roll-out.

5. Calculate Business Impact

Throughout this process, our primary objective is to prove the benefit of e-learning by calculating ROI so it can be presented in as clear and concise a manner as possible. Let’s consider the formula for ROI in its most basic form: 

Benefits/Costs x 100 = ROI%

As you likely know, this isn’t anywhere near as simple at it looks. However, when we break down the key steps, things become a little clearer.

  • Calculate the up-front financial cost to the company: How much will the organization need to pay in order to acquire the solution? How much does this cost per employee?
  • Consider the company's future gain: Some e-learning courses will make this easier than others. For example, Kubicle can provide estimates as well as "semesters" with customized deadlines and course completion dates. Costs should include the time necessary to roll out the program, including any administrative tasks. Does the solution provide support and assist you with implementation? Does it facilitate effective administration?
  • Consider the cost of learning as best you can: This is what it’s all about. What does the training accomplish for the company? How does the company stand to gain from this e-learning and what evidence will you see of this? This is a complex consideration that requires insight and facts covered in the previous step.

You will need to consider the different ways in which the gain to the company can be measured. To calculate this accurately, both pre- and post-learning evaluation must occur. Whether through loss prevention or an increase in profit, all of these should be of financial benefit over time. Show that the company stands to gain much more than it will cost to implement the training, and lay out a simple plan to track benefits over time.

6. Watch Your Language

Consideration should be given to the language used when discussing the case for e-learning. Try to avoid language that revolves purely around learning and development, as it may be unfamiliar or irrelevant to those used to more diagnostic or data-driven terminology. Always try to frame your argument in terms of measurable business results; this will reinforce the message that e-learning is a sound investment for the company, in addition to the increase in engagement and motivation of the employees.

7. Deliver Your Case

Now that you have researched your case and tailored it to the audience you expect, make sure to have all the information you have collected on hand in advance of any questions.

You've got this!

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Jane Quinn Saiz
About Author : Jane Quinn Saiz
Jane Quinn Saiz is a media professional with a keen eye for optimal workplace behaviors and a passion for writing. As a regular contributor to the Kubicle blog, Jane enjoys sharing her insights on productivity, leadership and effective communication. In her free time, Jane is a prolific baker and indentured servant to two demanding ragdoll cats.