Learning Operations, or LearnOps, is the idea that outcomes can be improved and the business can run more efficiently when training is streamlined. Just as there is DevOps and RevOps in the engineering and sales organizations, respectively, LearnOps leverages data to capture insights that can inform decisions that can reduce stakeholder friction, speed course development, and reduce budgets.
Why Learning Operations Need to Be Efficient
While seeking efficiency is nothing new across the organization, it takes on more strategic importance in L&D because learning is at stake. More than simply “doing more with less,” efficient learning operations help learners learn better, for everyone’s benefit. Salespeople close the right customers, customer care folks close more tickets—or perhaps even fewer tickets because customers are more informed and happier than they were because employees underwent training.
Efficient learning operations generate the following results:
- Lowered costs, such as by cancelling duplicate software licenses and subscriptions
- Increased value, including reassigning employees and contractors based on newfound strengths and skills
- Rapid course development, by uncovering templates and models that speed instructional design
- More engaged team members, as learning operations can ensure right-fit contributions to a project
- A rise in productivity, as more engaged team members can deliver additional, higher quality work faster
In the LearnOps Leadership Series, L&D leaders join Ryan Austin, CEO at Cognota, to discuss challenges and opportunities in learning operations.
How to Uncover Inefficiencies in Your Learning Operations
As LearnOps is a rather new discipline, there is no single, go-to manner in which to manage—and there is certainly no single way to uncover inefficiencies.
However, there are a few tactics a LearnOps Manager can take.
Spending on seat licenses and subscriptions
Following the money could be a good start. While no manager or department wants to know that they have gone over budget, the opposite—not using what was earmarked—can also be an issue.
One way to start reviewing the spending on L&D initiatives is to examine the seat licenses or enterprise SaaS subscriptions used for course development and training initiatives. Some licenses might have been set it and forget it for some time—and the department might be overpaying for a pricing tier that includes features that simply aren’t being used.
Another issue might be duplicate subscriptions: oftentimes when companies merge or restructure, identical subscriptions might still be in place or need to be renegotiated.
A manager trying to squeeze more efficiency out of a budget might also evaluate lower-cost options, and determine whether those might yield the same or even higher quality learning experiences.
Team member utilization
Not having the right team member assigned to a project can lead to more than just inefficiency—it can lead to lower-quality output, thereby affecting learners.
This can go both ways:
- An unqualified team member is being held responsible for tasks that are outside of their wheelhouse; or
- A perfectly qualitied team member is not being used for their certain skills and abilities that can meaningfully contribute to a project.
This is also known as capacity planning, or the visibility into who is available to take on work to ensure resources are assigned efficiently across projects.
This might be more difficult to assess than simply looking at budgets and spending. To uncover inefficiencies related to capacity planning, a learning operations manager might need to seek feedback from other team members regarding an individual’s work, or source HR files containing quarterly, semi-annual or annual employment reviews.
Or, the manager can simply interview each team member and ask them, “How do you feel about your contribution to each project assigned to you?”
Duplication of work
Further to the point above on team member utilization is the duplication of work: discovering that two team members or even two entire teams are working on nearly identical projects at the same time.
This comes from poor planning and poor communication. Larger organizations often suffer from duplicated efforts, as different divisions might have their own training teams. Another scenario could be a business unit that decides to “go rogue” and build or acquire training for its team—unaware that the training is currently in process by the corporate L&D team.
LearnOps managers can scope out all training currently being developed or delivered across the entire organization to ensure that efforts are not being duplicated and wasted. If two teams each feel that they need their own version of a training, the manager can find the synergies so that portions of course development can be shared.
Missed training requests
Another inefficiency that could be uncovered is a missed training request. While a robust training intake system helps L&D teams both discover training needs and uncover skills gaps across the organization, not every course can be built, which means that not every request can be fulfilled.
Reasons for rejected requests include budgetary constraints, too little time, a similar course has already been built and is available, or that suitable off-the-shelf training already exists. Other reasons could be that the training would benefit only a small group of employees, or that the course, once built, might become obsolete in less than a year—requiring the L&D to constantly update in order to keep the course relevant.
Rejected training requests do not mean that the L&D team cannot be helpful. Contingency plans for the request should be provided for the employee and department.
LearnOps managers can gain insights from these missed training requests. The systematic approach to training intake, including understanding the process for accepting and rejecting requests, including any type of scoring and archiving system, is key to understanding the department’s resources and the full workload of the training team.
More than simply studying team member utilization, analyzing the training request system can help answer questions as to why and how courses get built, and if not, what other resources employees and managers are provided access to.
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Evaluating LearnOps requires data
The only way to uncover inefficiencies is through data. While qualitative research is important, including asking questions and even “interviewing” team members regarding their processes, finding the right data points to explain previous behaviors is the principal way that LearnOps managers can begin to make recommendations that benefit the L&D function.
As the learning function sees the benefit of generating and evaluating data to better inform its operations, it will become easier for everyone—not just managers—to understand the impact of their efforts on course development and eventually, learner outcomes.
Show the direct impact of your L&D team’s efforts on business performance with this free training ROI calculator template.