How do you measure success? Part 3 – Performance and Business Impact

Although very separate, I think it’s prudent to discuss the evaluation of behavioural changes in the learner and the expected business impact together.

The reason I think these two should be linked in discussion is because although there are many techniques to gather the data for both of them (sales ROI, impact to call volume, employee pulse surveys on management effectiveness, etc.), in my experience, the single hardest question for alot of organizations and learning generalists isn’t how to get the data, but what should I be measuring?

In some cases, like sales or call centres, there are some pretty standard behavioural measurements, leading and lagging indicators and dashboards available.  But in other cases it can be tougher.

The absolutely most valuable tool for both level 3 and 4 evaluations is that initial, pre-design assessment.  Hopefully, energy has been spent on solid behavioural objectives.  If you are able to help the client, through your research, articulate what they want these people to be able to do in the context of learning objectives, it’s a no brainer to then;  Three or six months post learning solution launch, go back and evaluate if those behaviours have taken hold.

The hardest element to measure is for sure the Business Impact.  If no discussions and clear targets around this have occurred pre-design, its not only hard, but impossible.  You are crazy to go to a client and make statements about ROI or business unit growth due to a learning solution after the fact.  ROI is such a contentious topic. There are so much stumuli around learners in a corporate environment, good luck tying a companys growth directly to a learning solution and being able to stand by it.

Instead, when researching from the client at the needs assessment phase, talk about impact to business continuity, expansion, quality, efficiency, but drive to more SMART based goals.

A good example for a new hire program is time to competency. Typically, smaller organizations levetage veteran employees to coach and upskill new hires.  This pulls the experienced individual from their job for a significant amount of time.  Define “competent” first, (I like the ability to perform a task or tasks without support), and dig to figure out how long on average to that benchmark.  Next, in concert with the team experts, decide on a reasonable but impacting
goal.

In this example, the benefits should be clear to you and the client. You get a clear business level measurement to target post-launch and the client has confidence their key veterans will be able to spend more time where they need to.  Building products.

This has other benefits as well.  On top of the obvious opportunity to measure your own success and provide opportunity to calibrate support resources or next phase solutuons, it also is something I strongly suggest building into your charters or agreements.  So many times i’ve heard of vendors who deploy, then cut and run.  There is so much value in going back for praise or abuse by a client.  You can leverage the relationships and success to open doors to other opportunities.

Going back to let an unhappy client beat you with a pool cue has value as well (arguably more!).  You can learn what failed to avoid that pitfall and get better.  At the very least you show courage, grace and how much the relationship meant to you.

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About Andrew Ambrose
I am passionate about the learning longtail for formal and informal learning solutions, leveraging social media and networking technology for learning projects, innovation through mLearning, collaborative learning and applying solutions that fit within the learners personal learning environment.

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