Measuring the value of eLearning is notoriously difficult. In this article, I will explain how I managed to do that by replacing classroom with online training.
My remit was to introduce an eLearning strategy that would not only provide a cost-saving against classroom training, but that would allow these highly technical trainers to spend less time delivering repeat courses and more time to deliver training in which their expertise would be maximized.
So whilst we were busy implementing a new Learning Management System (LMS) we also identified some courses that would deliver an immediate cost-saving to the business.
The first course that we identified as a ‘quick-win’ was an accredited product training course.
Does the type of training matter?
One of the organisations key products was a satellite phone. This provides someone in an area without normal phone reception with a form of reliable communication - such as on top of a mountain or in the middle of the ocean.
The phones are being sold worldwide via a global network of third-party resellers. These resellers are accredited to undertake repairs and adjustments.
The accreditation process involved a 1/2 day practical training session, which would teach our partners how to repair the phone correctly and was followed by an exam.
This course was delivered by a technical trainer, who would fly out to the partner and deliver the training onsite.
This was clearly an inefficient use of the trainers' time - the training was fairly basic and very repetitive i.e. the same training was delivered with little variation each time.
And despite attempting to group local partners together in order to deliver the course to a larger audience, thus reducing the number of training courses required, this would often prove unsuccessful.
So each time the training needed to be delivered, it would mean a round-the-world trip for the trainer which had not only a cost implication, but restricted the trainers' schedule from delivering higher value training.
Our solution was to build a series of eLearning modules using Articulate Storyline that would be hosted on our LMS.
The course consisted of a quick introduction, followed by a series of demonstration videos that we recorded ourselves, which taught the learner how to repair the phone.
We embedded the videos into the Storyline course and used the same exam to ensure that learners correctly understood what they had learnt during the training.
Next we set up the course within the LMS to generate a certificate of completion, with a report that was sent directly to the training manager once the course had been completed.
The course was tested on a sample group of partners who required the training, and then launched globally after a successful pilot.
After having ironed out a few bugs and glitches and adjusted it based on feedback from the pilot group, the course was launched and could be immediately removed from the trainer's list of responsibilities.
We were left with happy customers, very happy trainers and a training manager with budget to spare!
Click here to see one of the published modules.
Doing the math
The organisation had been running this classroom training at least 10 times per year, sometimes more.
Each session was costing the company around £5,000 (travel, salary, admin etc.) so a realistic cost for this training per year could be estimated to be £50,000.
The eLearning course took less than a month to build at a cost of less than £5,000 (one instructional designer for a month armed with a copy of Storyline, the SME for 2 days of filming and an HD video camera).
Ironically, the cost to create the course turned out to be the same as flying a trainer to the other side of the world to deliver the same classroom training once!
So from looking at the calculations spread over the year, we can see that the cost saving is immense.
What about the LMS?
Now you would be correct if you noticed that these calculations don’t take into account the cost of the LMS. If you were only delivering one course via your LMS, then this would be a significant investment.
However, most cloud-based LMS have a simple pricing structure that means once you are delivering several courses, economies of scale kick-in and delivering online training becomes the most efficient way to deliver training.
Keeping the course updated
This course was built in 2011 and when a new version of the product was launched in 2014, the training was updated to reflect the changes.
Because the overall structure of the course remained identical, it was simply a case of recording new videos and swapping them in the eLearning course. Easy!
In addition, the accreditation was set to expire after 12 months, which meant that repeat training had to be undertaken annually to ensure the resellers maintained their accredited status - there is an ongoing cost saving here too! No more follow-up training sessions required!
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand the cost-savings that eLearning provides.
And I did work with a few rocket scientists at that company...
But it is often difficult to demonstrate the saving. And fortunately this was one example that made the calculation very obvious.
Once you've demonstrated this type of value, it becomes much easier to get investment from stakeholders in L&D.
If you enjoyed this article, don't miss my free, 5-day email crash course - 5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Starting an eLearning Project.