How to Develop a Business Case That Works
By Mohana Radhakrishnan, VP Client Services, Expertus
In a 2009 TrainingIndustry.com survey, more than 90% of learning executives relied on learning portals as part of their infrastructure. Also at that time, nearly 60% of respondents planned to upgrade or launch a new learning portal within several years.
Looking back, I wonder what the outcome of those projects has been. Did the organizations realize measurable value? How long did it take? And did their sponsors commit to continuous improvement?
After all, for most global corporations, learning portals represent a major capital investment — even if you rely upon a SaaS-based learning architecture, and applications are delivered from the cloud.
In the past few years, the need for specialized learning ecosystems has only increased. So if your learning organization is like most, it’s essential to seek stakeholder approval for ongoing upgrades and enhancements to your portal environment. It’s never too soon to start.
If you want to speak the language of today’s C-level executives, you’ll want to quantify your expected return-on-investment (ROI) in a clear, complete, compelling way. But where and how should you start?
The easiest entry point is to identify groups who are not able to participate in learning initiatives. Then estimate the business cost of this lost opportunity. Here are some quick tips to help you develop a persuasive argument with straightforward cost-benefit analysis techniques:
1) Examine Training & Performance Reports
Extract business metrics that support your case. Examples:
- Choose statistical indicators that expose problems in reaching unserved/underserved learners (e.g. Are enrollments and completions lagging?)
- Compare the proportion of learners served vis-a-vis the total target population
- Identify trends that are moving in an undesirable direction (e.g. Compare performance indicators over time with benchmarks from comparable organizations.)
- Highlight the upside impact of existing portals on groups currently served (employees, partners, customers, and others), and extrapolate those results across under-served audiences.
2) Audit and Analyze Stakeholder Concerns
Interview stakeholders to uncover and document training roadblocks. Next, create a matrix with two categories: Issues that can be addressed by a next-generation portal, and those that cannot. Then estimate the cost of each portal investment that can make a positive difference. Finally, compare those costs with the overall cost of maintaining the status quo. In other words, over a 1-year planning horizon, calculate the total estimated net cost or lost revenue for each untrained learner x the size of the learning audience.
3) Determine the Portal ROI
Divide your total opportunity cost by 5 (a typical rule-of-thumb for large companies). If the result is six-figures or more, it’s a great indication that your next-generation learning portal proposal payoff aligns with industry benchmarks. In this case, your business sponsors should have confidence that their investment will be worthwhile.
Would you like to know more? If you want more details about how to develop a business case, download “How to Boost Business Revenues with Learning 2.0 Portals.”
Or for guidance about whether your organization should build or buy a portal, register to download our whitepaper, Build vs. Buy Dilemma — What to do with a broken LMS.
Note from Mohana: If you’d like to discuss your organization’s learning technology challenges, or you want to see how a next-generation platform like ExpertusONE cloud LMS can support continuous learning, request a demo — or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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