How to Measure the Effectiveness of Online Training (+ How to Get Leadership Buy-in)

Andrew Brown ·

Jul 12, 2019

“Is our online training having a positive ROI?” If you’ve been on an L&D team for any period of time, someone’s asked you this question (probably your boss). To answer them, you need to measure training effectiveness, and more importantly, show the Leadership team that online training is helping the company grow. 

The Growing Role of Online Training 

In today’s rapidly changing workplace — I’m looking at you, COVID-19 — online training is becoming an increasingly important part of just about everyone’s business plan. It doesn’t matter if you’re using it to onboard new employees, educate customers or channel partners, the education awakening is here. And it’s not going away.

Here’s proof… 

The pandemic has accelerated these trends and pushed online training mainstream, showing companies that it’s not only important but a foregone necessity. 

Why Measuring the Impact of Online Training is Important

The fundamental goal of all training is to give people the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. But, some training programs produce better results than others. Just because you’re teaching people doesn’t mean they learned — or applied what they learned. After all, knowledge retention is our kryptonite. 

That’s where training measurement comes in. 

By evaluating the impact of your online training program, you can get a better idea of performance, and thus, what you can communicate back to the Leadership team. 

From there, you can take those metrics and refine what’s working and fix what isn’t. The old saying is certainly true in this case: What gets measured, gets improved. It’s difficult to argue against hard data that shows how more effective training led to increased performance, revenue and growth.

Evaluation is the key to unlocking the benefits of training — and effective training does much more than teach people facts:

Does your online training deliver all this? You can’t know without measuring the results.

How to Measure Training Effectiveness

Measuring training effectiveness doesn’t necessarily require a lot of time or money. That’s welcome news for any organization, especially small teams with limited resources. With a little planning and forethought, you’ll soon be on your way.

Tip: When you start developing a new training program, begin at the end. That is, start by deciding what you want the training results to be. Once you define what success looks like, you’ll know how to measure it.

Your desired results should include goals from every layer of the company, including the very top.

Common Online Training Goals 

  • Departmental Goals: Time-to-value, cost per support ticket, lead generation, inbound links, time to close, ARR and more. 
  • Learning Goals: User growth, engagement, completion rates, learner NPS, content development time and more. 

Which goals and metrics should your organization use? That takes careful thought on your part. The best ways to define success and track progress vary with the unique needs and characteristics of each organization and training program.  

Tools to Help Measure the Impact of Your Online Training

  • Surveys
  • Focus groups
  • Individual interviews
  • On-the-job observation
  • Self-assessment questionnaires
  • Peer and manager feedback
  • Certification exams

When to Measure Training Effectiveness

When should you measure the impact of training? Before, during, and after the training happens.

  • Before: Gather baseline data for each metric you’ll measure. You can’t know how far you’ve come without knowing where you started.
  • During: Use feedback and quizzes to help you know whether learners understand the material and are making progress.
  • After: Measure immediately after to see how much was learned and then several weeks later to see whether the information had the desired effects.

Tip: Let technology do the heavy lifting. When it comes to training reports, there’s no faster or simpler way to monitor and optimize your training program than LMS analytics.

The Kirkpatrick Model of Training Effectiveness

To help you organize what to measure and how to measure it, consider using the Kirkpatrick Model. It’s one of the most popular and enduring methods of evaluating training effectiveness. 

The Kirkpatrick Model measures the value of training using four levels:

  1. Reaction: How participants felt about the value of the training
  2. Learning: Whether participants acquired the intended knowledge, skills, attitude, confidence and commitment from the training
  3. Behavior: How much participants applied what they learned when they returned to work
  4. Results: The degree to which targeted outcomes occurred

Tip: Before you launch a new course, test it on a small group of people. Their data and feedback can help you fine-tune it for your larger audience.

But don’t stop there. Every successful training program can benefit from continued reevaluation and refinement. Your metrics not only measure your learners’ progress, but they’ll also reveal the strengths and weaknesses of the training itself, showing you where you can improve.

How to Show the Leadership Team That Online Training Works

Measuring the impact of your online training at the learner level is important, but demonstrating impact to the Leadership team takes the cake. All of it. 

For you, the pressing question is: What do they want to see? 

Historically, this question haunted every team that rolled up into the c-suite, but lucky for you, you already have the answer because you asked them this exact question way back when. Remember the “Business Goals?” Yeah, those. 

This is where you want to focus your time when measuring training effectiveness for the sole purpose of reporting back to the Leadership team. 

So, if their goal is to win new business, show them the number of leads the program has helped generate or the attributed revenue for someone who went through the training versus someone who didn’t.

If they care about employee retention, show them how the average tenure is increasing. Whatever the Leadership team is using as its guiding light to steer the business, should be yours as well. 

A Note From Northpass on Measuring Your Training Program

With the right technology partners in place, your online training program will be off to the races. Northpass makes it easy to create, deliver and measure a world-class training program — no matter who you’re teaching. 

Book a demo today to learn how Northpass can help take your training to the next level.

Book a Demo

 

Note: Originally published in July 2019, this article has been updated to reflect more accurate information. 

About the Author

Andrew Brown

Andrew is a Content Marketing Manager, helping position Northpass as the utmost thought leader in the industry. When he's not creating content, you can find him watching the Buffalo Sabres, obsessing about Scandinavia (he's learning Danish!), or exploring NYC.

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