We have all heard it: “People are our greatest asset!” and then: “What are these people doing? We have spent money on our CRM and people are using it wrong”. A couple of other things we all have heard: “Training is so expensive” or “our people do not have time to sit in trainings” or “taking my team away from their work to sit in training is not doable”. If people truly are our greatest asset, shouldn’t the focus on their training perhaps shift from being an expense to an investment on your organization’s human capital?
When working with people there are several ways to go. There’s the answer of restricting behavior through force, then there’s leadership and then finally something I want to discuss which is teaching "how to". In particular, how proper training will affect how users use of technology (e.g. Salesforce) and how training the proper use of any system will pay back. Just about every business decision is measured by the Return on Investment (ROI) so why not use the same starting point when forecasting and evaluating the benefits of training?
We can all relate to the fact that measuring something so subjective and intangible is difficult. However, we can also all relate to the fact that training, and especially evaluating training is very important. Training is one of many different things that an organization can do to improve its performance and profitability. Only proper evaluation makes training comparable to the other things. And only proper evaluation helps the organization decide which actions to take.
Evaluating the ROI of well conducted training
Measuring the ROI of an investment means measuring the monetary benefits that an organization gains in return on a given investment – and in particular in a training program. So therefore we want to reach a stage where the benefits of training exceed the costs.
Measuring the efficiency of any training is the amount of learning achieved compared to the amount of effort put in. The more efficient a training method is, the less it will cost. You can measure the costs on one side and the benefits associated with a training session on the other.
Direct Costs are simple to calculate. Maybe the incremental costs also. These are affected by the design of the training, the experience level of the instructor, the consultancy fees and other expenses. The financial benefits of training cannot be measured in terms of student feedback, or how much has been learned. Not even how users behave differently after the training. What we need to look at are the benefits that come from improved performance:
- Minimising the time on doing duplicate work
- Minimising the time on correcting mistakes (our own or others)
- Minimising the time it takes to access information
- Minimising frustration which often leads to inefficiency
- Minimising the amount of time users take to help each other
- Minimising the effort that users need to put into a simple task, when they are familiar with the steps
- Maximising the speed of working
- Maximising motivation which often leads to increased effort
- Maximising collaboration.
And these in turn translate into actual business outcomes:
- Increased sales through proficient management of users own work
- Forecasting accuracy through a manageable pipeline with numbers and stages you can trust
- Focus on the actual work and not using the system
- Collaboration in the system which can lead to sales referrals
- New product ideas that cater to a wider audience
- New marketing ideas that translate into leads
- Cross departmental collaboration on business issues
- Lower case resolution time through collaboration and access to data
- Higher customer satisfaction.
So returning back to the original question – return on investment. What it tells you is the percentage return that you have gained as a result of a training session or program. The benefits may not be visible immediately after the training so pick a time frame during which you will evaluate the benefits of the training, and stick to that in subsequent evaluations also. After all this we can simply come to one calculation:
% ROI = (benefits / costs) x 100
More learning with less cost
The key point here is to drive your costs down and learning up. This can be done with good, accurate and precise design of the training itself. A key variable is a proficient instructor with a customized approach and knowledge of the customer’s environment. The learning environment of the training is vital to make students receptive and allow them to learn and adopt the new behavior.
So the next time you think “Can’t do training” – think again. Your investment in training will return itself through proficient users who will use the system so that you can trust the data. And why did you buy the system in the first place? I will venture a guess that ultimately it is for the visibility to data. Simply put: trained users are satisfied users are productive users and make a reliable system!
Senior Business Consultant and Certified Salesforce Instructor at Fluido
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