The success of learning initiatives needs to be measured and communicated via key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs allow you to measure the success of not only the efforts of the L&D department, but also your programs across the entire organization.
This is the hard part.
‘Universal’ or traditional KPIs might be the following:
- Money saved
- Hours reduced
Obviously, these might be irrelevant for some employees or departments, and a lot easier to claim than actually track.
Why KPIs Matter
As businesses increasingly rely on data to justify decisions — and spending — the L&D department should be no stranger to being asked to deliver the numbers that track and measure what’s working and what’s not.
The KPI should be a measure that can be well understood across business units — not just something that only an L&D leader can relate to. This is why post-training evaluation scores are usually meaningless beyond the L&D department.
Further, KPIs of learning initiatives should be shared with the senior leadership of the organization. KPIs command attention, validate efforts and can net you additional resources (people and money).
Attention to the success of learning initiatves can spark interest from other departments, who will approach you to discuss training for their team, making you and your team even more valuable.
The KPIs must directly measure the performance, be quantifiable, and be linked to the organization’s business goals, according to E-Learning Heroes, the blog for Articulate, an LMS provider.
After a training is completed, you will need to stay in close touch with the employee’s manager, so that you can determine if the skills acquired during the training were actually implemented.
KPIs that track the success of training might be:
- Increased sales, if the employee works on revenue-generating projects or tasks
- Increased volume of output on specific projects or tasks
- Reduced error rates, or increased quality of output on specific projects or tasks
- Time saved performing specific projects or tasks
This data can be a challenge to capture; however, once you have established the lines of communication and process with that department, things will be easier moving forward.
Of course, make sure that you measure KPIs both before and after training takes place, so that you can demonstrate the percent change.
Build KPIs into the Course Design Process
When instructional designers build courses, they often use commonly accepted instructional design models, such as ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation). In the Analysis and Design phases, instructional designers think of the goals that the training modules are attempting to meet.
Rather than focus on the specific learning to be achieved — learning Excel pivot tables, for instance — think about the future KPI for that learning, such as the pivot tables speeding up financial analysis and increasing the output of the employee.
In this way, KPIs become part of the instructional design process and overall L&D culture.
Lean on the Vendor
Your software provider can also help you in figuring out how to capture KPIs. They want you to be successful, for obvious reasons. Ask them what KPIs other customers are using and more importantly, how those other customers identify and capture KPIs for learning initiatives in their respective organizations.
Connect with the Community
For an instructional designer or training manager new to the idea of measurement, seek advice and feedback from the community of L&D professionals. ELearning Industry and eLearning Guild are large, active online communities — with equally active presences on Twitter and LinkedIn — where professionals can ask others about what KPIs might work best in a particular environment. Because everyone is seeking success, it is a great question to ask.