Our webinar, LMS
and Business Impact: Connecting the Dots conducted last week, was as
insightful for us as it was for our packed audience. Why? Because oftentimes uncovering
the ground reality gives you a well-rounded view of the subject. The Q&A
that followed the 40-minute webinar by Anil Nair, COE and Lead for Organizational
Learning and Leadership Development at the Zydus Group, and Amit Gautam, Director
and Founder of UpsideLMS, did just
that for us.
Here’s a snippet of the conversation
that saw L&D and HR practitioners tune in from all parts of the world.
Q1. Do you believe that online learning is
more effective than classroom training?
<transcript> Well, I must say that they’re actually incomparable. The
purpose for which we use classroom training and the purpose for which online training
needs to be used are two different things. We made a mention, both me and Amit,
that things have changed and how online learning has probably been a better way
to reach at a mass scale and possibly address and create some kind of awareness
about concepts, it is more about information dissemination. If you want that to
be the purpose of your learning program, it could be an Induction or a concept-driven
program, then online learning is enough for you. But then imagine some kind of
interventions where you need to bring about a perspective change in the behavior
of an individual; imagine if you’re addressing some kind of leadership issues,
imagine if you want to link some kind of a learning with the business outcomes
and accordingly try to relate it to a classroom attendance, your online
learning will not suffice. So perhaps you need to have a feel and touch
approach. A little bit of deep-diving would be important to understand that
behavior and put your answers in context. And even you can choose to have a
hybrid approach by putting up a part of the program online and then
substantiate it in a class.
Q2. Apart from record keeping how can we make
an LMS more attractive to the user?
Amit: <transcript> I think a few simple things
which can be done are, of course, first of all, the tool has to align with the
learning objectives of that group of users. So instead of looking at ways of
making it attractive, the focus has to be on making it relevant and important for
the users, which means the LMS and learning itself have to be a part of the
workflow of the employees. And this could be made better by the LMS becoming smarter. So understanding the employees’
workflow, their learning needs and their skill profile can personalize the
learning for the users to a large extent. Which means when learners log into
the system they can actually see things that are relevant for them and things
which are going to help them positively in their workflow and in their desired or
defined role. And they can focus on those activities which can help them move
forward on the right path. So it has to be all about what the learner can take
away and how that will impact the learners’ performance and help them move
forward in their career path.
Q3. How can we measure the ROI after the
training? Most of the times it is very subjective. What are your views on that?
<transcript> Very interesting. You know usually we end up measuring the
level one, level two or at the most reach up to the level three (of
Kirkpatrick’s training evaluation model) and seek the manager’s feedback and
understand whether the individual is able to demonstrate or not. Now for each
organization what kind of business outcomes are they trying to predict and for what
the learning is mapped is different. A lot of work has to be done along with
the stakeholders to identify what kind of learning would they like to have. I’m
sure they know that training doesn’t happen by a mere agenda setting or what
the Learning Department is trying to float in the organization, but it is a
kind of a desire, the need of which is coming out of a business (objective). And
if it’s mapped to a business need, then it has to be a joint proposition. And
when it becomes a joint proposition, ‘what is it that you intend to measure’
becomes refined. So it is very important that when you say ROI, it’s like
measuring something. If you haven’t defined anything you cannot measure
anything. So I would say that before you begin with any kind of an agenda,
decide on ‘what is it’ that you want to measure.
ROI has got
multiple definitions. In some of the organizations or some interventions, you
would want to measure whether the cost has come down, in some you would want to
measure if the productivity been increased. If you are doing some kind of a
session for a new product launch you would want to find out whether it was
established from a certain point of time. I would like to say it’s more like
ammunition in the bullet, keep shooting. Even if the ROI comes post training we
can’t say that that is completely attributed to their training, can we? None of
the organizations believe in it. BUT without the training can it happen? I
would say NO. It becomes an important facilitator. So ROI has got multiple
parameters. You need to rate training as a one off the important tools. If you
recall my conversation, I did make a mention about writing on a drawing board
about what are the various things which would improve ROI and then if you feel
that there is a necessity of training in that checklist, you must include
training and if not, then it doesn’t make sense. So then it becomes relatively
easier when you want to measure an ROI.
How to implement the same in the healthcare setup with wide range of employees,
where communication itself is a challenge?
Amit: <transcript> Healthcare setup is not
really a very unique set up when it comes to implementing the LMS. So it is a
similar environment to, let’s say, a large company which has fifty thousand
workforce – half of that in the field, scattered across various offices either
in the same country or different countries. I think, it starts from the
objectives. So the technical part is actually easier in terms of implementing
but the one point I want to definitely add is to use and look at the mobile application part of the tool as a big factor in implementation in a setup
like a healthcare setup where the employees are not just in different offices
but also have different learning needs. Anil has done this at his company so I
am sure he has few practical tips which he can share.
<transcript> You made a very important mention about Healthcare setup
with a wide range of employees. Yeah, it is easier to tame a dog at house than
to tame an elephant. And you know I represent the healthcare setup with about
twenty four thousand people globally. And I know the kind of a challenge it
presents. My first reaction to this would be what is learning in an
organization? Is it a big task that L&D feels is important for them to
finish off because it’s a part of their KPIs and because they have been
appointed to something they ought to be doing. Is it something which a business
needs at a point in time when things are not going well? Okay fine, let’s try
to engage our people and training could be one of the means to do it.
I would say
learning is a culture. And even for that matter whatever tools that we’ve tried
to make use of, it is a culture. If L&D is not something which has been
internalized and been an intrinsic part of the organizational culture, you
would find all these challenges.
So that means
when communication is a challenge with reference to learning then people
fundamentally are asking the question ‘what’s in it for me?’. How do you make
people more attracted to the learning not necessarily only from Gamification,
or the features in the LMS or the kind of program you have for them. We
need to make people understand the relevance of it in their own lives and their
own careers. So communication is a challenge is a myth. That’s where these
interesting tools are there. You need to have your stakeholders who are the
best people to reach out to the people. They extend to the HR community who are
all there to have hands on communication with all those people in the
organization. And then, preferably, if learning becomes a part of an
organization culture that you know these kinds of challenges can be overcome.
Given the flurry of systems like YouTube, Wikipedia and other channels
available today for the learner to access content. How do you see LMS staying
Amit: <transcript> I’d like to give you a very
simple analogy for that. You know, I personally use the Amazon Fire stick TV
but through that I have access to almost every streaming service. So, I think,
LMS in the very least organizes all of these into a single window access to the
users. Because, you know, if I leave it to the employees to go and look at
these channels on their on – one there are multiple channels, which is of
course difficult to track for themselves and the LMS, as I said, in the very
least will help you organize variety of learning media; not just these channels
but a variety of other learning media into one single place for not just easy
access but also it can then be used further to profile a learner – what are
they doing, how are they doing and what else can be done for them. For a
company it is impossible to track all of these channels and then the amount of
data from these channels to have some kind of a correlation between them for a
single employee is going to be a mammoth task. So LMS in the very least will
help you organize that data and also help the employee access all of these
information channels quickly and easily without losing a track of what they
were doing and also kind of, you know, not forces but kind of encourages them
to link it to their learning work flow.
We have difficulty having employees spare time to learn and implement at work.
How can an LMS bring in that continuous learning culture in an interesting way?
<transcript> Things that you are trying to implement in an organization
from the corporate view standpoint and all these tools we are talking about are
something that specific departments sitting at the head office are trying to
launch for their employees. The purpose is ‘why’. Is it because it’s a new
thing that I want to put as an addition to whatever I have done across the year
and say that this is one new thing which we have launched? Or is it something
that the business finds as a necessity simply because every organization is
doing it? Or it could also be ‘let’s understand the kind of the relevance to
the employees’. Today we are dealing with the multi generation workforce and
that’s a topic that you hear in all forums. The people have changed and there
are all four set of generations that you are dealing with. I mean, ranging from
the baby boomers to now the gen Z people. Each of them has a different way to
learn. Now if you want to have a learning culture in the organization you need
to give them a context as to why it is important for them and, you know, you
cannot say that one size fits for all. So even in your LMS there has to be a
customization in which way that it addresses people and what does it matter to
them? Believe me tough times are there ahead in the next 10 years as you even
might have to try to customize it for individuals to individuals in this
specific age group. So if a continuous learning culture has to be built in an
interesting way the answer to that is ‘what is in it for me’. It is an answer
that organizations might be prepared to give to each and every employee. It is
not only related to the businesses, which is only from the corporate
standpoint. P&L is for the business what does it matter to the employees?
And some of it, as we just had a dialogue that Youtube or Wikipedia and other
channels, is readily available today. The learning is open for them now. By
bringing in an LMS you are training them on something that you want them to be trained
on; they have not asked for it. At the most, you have a catalogue and they can
pick and choose but that is also a fixed repository of the things. We are not
giving them anything that they ask for. So it’s a two sided sword. You are
giving them what you want them to learn. They are picking up what is available
for them to learn but not necessarily lots of questions related to ‘what’s in
it for me’ are getting answered. So if an LMS has to bring a continuous
learning culture there has to be a continuous dialogue. I know you cannot reach
out to the masses for that matter. There has to be in some way addressing the
uniqueness in what the audience seeks. Ultimately find out what each age group
of employees are looking forward for and try to customize it for their
What are some of the ways in which an LMS can enhance the reach of training for
a particular audience? Are there some rules that people can follow?
Amit: <transcript> I think Anil has answered
this in different words but if all roads lead to Rome, then I think all roads
lead here to a learning culture and also ‘what is in it for a learner’ in the
end. And every organization will have a different answer to this question in
their own context. If they can answer that question and define that question
very elaborately then using that they can define the key success parameters of
what does the reach of training for the audience actually mean. Is it just giving
them access to the training? Is it giving them access to a tool which helps
them do their job better now or in future? Is it giving them access to
collaborative environment where they can learn from others but it has to be
defined and how does it really help the learner because there may maybe a
different point of view from a business standpoint and from a learner
standpoint what it really means for them. So as Anil has been mentioning in
various forms now, it has to start with from the learner’s perspective that ‘what
is in it for them’. Answering that question would lead to a lot of answers not
just for the LMS but also for the entire L&D process per se.
I am the L&D manager of company with workforce that has both white and blue
collar employees. How do I lay down the objectives for measuring business
Irrespective of your company size,
employee makeup or industry you operate in, the first step is to analyze your
company-level, overarching business objectives. Breaking down the company
vision into granular, quantifiable objectives is also a good starting point. Next
is to map these objectives to L&D goals. This essentially means finding out
which objectives can be achieved with the LMS (or other learn-tech tool). Then
it’s a matter of converting them into metrics and measurable KPIs.
Classifying objectives into tactical
and strategic buckets is a good way to ensure you are able to meet both your
long term and short term goals.
How can I measure the real impact of LMS for my organization?
Paying attention to success metrics is
as critical as the LMS selection process itself. First and foremost, you should
lay down the objective(s) you wish to achieve through the LMS (refer to
previous answer). This will be your indicator of the metrics you need to
measure so as to evaluate the effectiveness of your LMS. The earlier you factor
this in your process, better are the chances of LMS success.
Our current LMS has primitive reporting and analytics capabilities. How do I
use it for business impact measurement?
As we reported in the webinar,
learn-tech unavailability is one of the key barriers to business impact
achievement. This includes learning platforms with limited capabilities too.
While switching to a new LMS that has advanced reporting and business intelligence
along with everything you need now and later from a futureproofing POV is the
best solution, integrating with third party BI tools can help too. However if
your LMS doesn’t support integration, it’s best to overhaul your L&D and
invest in a new-age learning platform like UpsideLMS.
IMO ROI is an elusive L&D goal. How can I make it tangible and measurable?
ROI measurement is the singular dichotomous
metric that’s both – most wished for and most difficult to measure. WRT
Kirkpatrick’s Model, based on four levels – Reaction, Learning, Behavior and
Results, it’s clear that there are certain projects in which not all levels of
evaluation are required. POSH training, for example, is often necessary
regardless of ROI. On the other hand, Compliance Training, for companies
operating in a litigated business environment, is critical not just from
employee awareness and compliance perspective but also from a cost saving
viewpoint as it helps in avoiding heavy fines.
Please refer answer 3 to know you can make it tangible and
Organization culture is key to our functioning at <name of company hidden for privacy>. Can an LMS be used for
achieving an impact of that nature?
Organization culture is the software
that keeps everything running while the people, the processes, the procedures
are the hardware. This software is an outcome of the shared mindset and value
system of the people that work in it – across all levels and functions. And
people can be influenced/ trained using learn-tech tools like an LMS that
support a variety of training formats like eLearning, classroom training/ ILT, virtual
learning and mobile
learning. Today’s AI-powered
learning platforms take this to the next level by relevant
recommendations and user behavior insights.
Is there a correlation between the L&D investment and its impact?
We have been conditioned to believe
that pricier is better. While premium pricing is a factor of the product’s (or
service’s) innovativeness, it’s not always so. Even in the LMS space there are
a number of small-to-medium sized players with competitive
pricing that have a great, future-looking product (sometimes even better
than the legacy players, owing to their agility and innovation mindset they are
driven by). If you ought to correlate, it’s best reserved for L&D planning
and impact; better the planning, more the impact.
What metrics should I be focusing on?
Each company, rather each L&D unit
within a company, has its own, unique metrics for success. For some it might be
a relatively tactical KPI like training standardization while for others it may
be as strategic and business-oriented as employee retention.
It’s important to remember that
training metrics are no good unless they can actually be measured, either
through KPIs or sub-metrics. For example, to “improve sales staff performance”
is not a metric by itself. It’s a mere business goal. “Improve sales staff call
rates by 25%” is far more quantifiable, and hence measurable.
Another thing to keep in mind is that
every level of Kirkpatrick’s model involves some form of metrics. The
“reaction” level measures emotional response. The “learning” level measures
learning retention. The “behavior” level measures how new knowledge transfers
to everyday work habits. And of course, the fourth level measures ROI. Among
these four levels, for any project, there may be hundreds of possible metrics
to use. It can be overwhelming to determine which metrics are actually useful
to evaluate and will help you draw accurate conclusions.
refer answer 1 to understand how YOU can derive the right metrics for your
Our LMS objective has been to boost productivity. However we have been largely
unsuccessful in this endeavor. What can we do?
Behavior change can be difficult to
measure quantitatively, but sometimes specific performance changes can be
measured. For example, in the case of sales staff who were trained on a new
database system, the percentage increase in the number of daily customer calls
can easily be measured. The LMS can churn out a lot of data to help with the
maths here, but you need to have the parameter defined correctly and clearly to
get the answer you are seeking.
I head the training of a medium sized company which by definition itself
doesn’t endow us with deep pockets. We have managed to convince our management
for investing in a learning platform however I am worried that it may mean
compromising on our ability to do what we intend to and hence not get the impact
The good news is some of the best
LMSes out there don’t cost the earth. The bad news, however, is you need to fine-tune
your LMS selection process to sieve the saturated marketplace. As mentioned
earlier, lesser known brand names, at competitive prices, do the job as good
as, sometimes even better than, their big-branded counterparts. As long as you
have chosen a learning platform that has all features you need today and
tomorrow, is easy to use, has a solid support – achieving business impact is not
I think it’s the lack of learn-tech availability more than anything else that
stops us from achieving the desired impact. What is the solution in such cases?
Oftentimes it’s not the lack of
software or tools, but the inability of the existing tools to give us the
expected results. Example: Almost all LMSes have a built-in Reporting
module. But data dumping alone is not sufficient for business
intelligence as it lacks both learner- and business-specific insights. Not to
mention the cumbersome and time-intensive process one has to endure to extract the
recording of LMS
and Business Impact: Connecting the Dots is now available for (Free)