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New research from our sister companies, LEO Learning and Watershed, is now building a comprehensive picture of how L&D executives feel about measuring the business impact of learning. This blog takes a look at the key headlines and how you can start your own measurement efforts to get the most out of our learning analytics.

It’s been a question that’s been around for some time now: how can L&D actually measure the business impact your learning is having in order to prove ROI and other business KPIs? Recently, the rise of analytics tools and specifications such as xAPI have given us some pretty good answers to this question. The answer is essentially: use tools to collect data, then analyse it. Simple, right?

But it seems many in L&D are starting 2018 without measurement at the top of their priorities – despite pressure from the board to measure the business impact of learning. LEO Learning and Watershed’s research notes that there has been a 71% increase in respondents who say they’re feeling pressure to measure the impact of their learning.

So what’s going on?

Make learning analytics a priority

The answer may lie in the fact that the majority of respondents cite ‘competing priorities’ as the main reason why they aren’t getting ahead on their measurement game. So while there is pressure, there are still other things that are squeezing the focus on measurement.

But as Mike Rustici notes in the report, this is a short-sighted approach. To delay now is to leave yourself without benchmark data which you’ll want to measure against further down the line.

The key takeaway from this research, according to the report author, LEO Learning’s Chief Strategy Officer Piers Lea, is: get started now, profit later.

Measure the business impact of learning: how confident are you?

A positive message from the research is that many are now feeling more confident that measuring the impact of learning is an achievable goal, with 89% of respondents now agreeing it’s possible.

But there was also a rise in the amount of L&D executives saying they didn’t know how to get started with measurement. Confidence in the end goal may be high, but when it comes to actual implementation it seems that some are still struggling to convert that confidence into concrete action.

Confidence is great, but actions speak louder than words. The main takeaway for LMS administrators and our L&D colleagues is to find a way to get started.

How to get started with learning analytics

As LEO Learning’s Piers Lea notes in his reflections on the results, it’s time to stop being afraid of data.

For those who aren’t technically minded, data might seem intimidating, especially in the context of the ‘big data’ movement. In reality, much of the data you need to access will be ‘small’ to start with, but it can still deliver insights.

Here are two simple things you can do now to measure the business impact of learning:

1. Work out your key measurement objectives

First decide on key objectives you want to measure. Remember, start small.

A few things you’re likely to be able to measure are:

  • Completion stats – learners may be enrolled on courses, but do they complete them?
  • Staff compliance – by department, location, year-on-year (find the gaps!)
  • Cost of investment – how much are you spending and is spend directed to the right areas?
  • Competency developments – what learning have your users completed over time; are they progressing?

And a lot of these can be looked at together to build a fuller picture of how your learning is performing.

2. Leverage your LMS

If you have an LMS, you’re already one step into your measurement journey. It may just be you aren’t yet leveraging it to your advantage.

NetDimensions’ LMS has analytics capabilities. This type of tool can be all you need to start generating reports and looking for trends.

For example, NetDimensions’ Analytics includes standard reports which will show the time and money invested in your training. It can also track your learners’ activity over time to build up a picture of activity.

Another useful tool for high-consequence industries is the ability to measure compliance rates across your learners. You can also track assessment performance for an extra level of analysis.

This is a simple starting point that can get you to the point where you can see what your learners are doing.

As the Gartner Analytics maturity model below describes, this type of data is going to tell you ‘what happened’.

To go beyond that and start using your data to diagnose and predict results, you’re going to need to think about more advanced tools and data collection methods.

To read the full results from LEO Learning and Watershed’s research, click here.

And if you liked this blog, then download our free White Paper to find out more about gaining actionable insights with talent and learning analytics.


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