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10 Steps to Developing an Effective Learning Solution Business Case


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10 Steps to Developing an Effective Learning Solution Business Case

  1. 1. Whitepaper10 STEPSto Developing an Effective LearningSolution Business Case
  2. 2. 2www.sumtotalsystems.com10 steps To Developing An Effective Learning Solution Business CaseIntroductionYou may already know the value thata LMS could bring to your company.Unfortunately, most organizationsstill don’t emphasize the importanceoflearninganddevelopmentasmuchas they should. Although the need may be very clear, you may needto convince the rest of your organization to jump on board.However,building a business case for a learning solution involves much morethan a static business plan. This paper takes you step-by-step throughthe process of addressing your immediate problems, building alliancesthroughout your organization, and making a successful business casefor a learning solution, including:So, let’s say you already know the value that a learning solution brings to an organization.Perhaps you’re already using one, or maybe you’re considering this investment for thefirst time. Unfortunately, most organizations still don’t emphasize the importance oflearning and development as much as they should. Although the need may be veryclear to you, how can you convince the rest of your organization to jump on board?Whether you know it or not, you are about to embark on a huge marketing effort.Building a business case involves much more than producing an ROI document or staticbusiness plan. If these are the only deliverables you are expecting to produce, the effortmay be destined to fail.Following the 10 steps below will help you address immediate problems, build alliancesthroughout the organization, and make a successful business case. These best practicescome directly from SumTotal customers who have faced similar challenges.STRATEGY:Building a compelling business case is a keypart to any successful learning managementproject.•• Analyzing your current processes andidentifying your needs•• Mapping out the various processesand training requirements•• Calculating the financial impact oftraining•• Making the case and managing theproject
  3. 3. 3www.sumtotalsystems.com10 steps To Developing An Effective Learning Solution Business CaseSolutions sell better when they address real issues. Examine your learning strategytoday. Where are the inefficiencies? What are the organizational risks? What work isn’tgetting done that should? Identify the checklist of specific pain-points and processinefficiencies that a learning solution help alleviate.Before you get too deep into this process, it’s important to know how the game isplayed. Before you get too far down the path of building the case for your learningsolution it’s important to find answers to the following questions as they will guide theyour plan development:Now is a good time to take a person from IT out for coffee. Learn all you can aboutyour organization’s software procurement processes. The details in this bureaucracymatter. Through this process you may realize that teaming with an externally hostedlearning solution makes more sense than hosting a solution internally. Either way, thisknowledge is power.•• How does your company plan their business?•• How does your company set goals (independently by BU, or cascading from the top)?•• Do you use the Balanced Scorecard approach, or any other formalizedmethodology?•• What are the planning cycles by group, and what key metrics affect the planning?•• What are key metrics involved in evaluating the success of the business plans by evaluation period?•• When you get to the point of presenting a case, what format should it be in? Can you get a copy of a successful business case that was presented and approved recently to use as a template?Start with a Self-Assessment: Analyze yourcurrent processes and identify your own needsLearn how your organization does its strategicplanningFind out your organization’s process forpurchasing software#1#2#3
  4. 4. 4www.sumtotalsystems.com10 steps To Developing An Effective Learning Solution Business CaseAsk IT to educate you on the following:•• Request for Proposal (RFP) Templates•• Sole source opportunities•• Return on Investment (ROI) & Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Presentations•• Sample legal contracts from previous purchase or rental agreementsYou will prevent future frustration and your expertise in how the IT world works will helpdown the road.Oftentimes, mandatory and strategic training requirements exist in many differentareas of your organization, and it’s your job to discover and compile them. Forexample, compliance training, often the primary driver for many learning solution, isusually distributed among many different departments in varying forms. Form a task-force to find out who is carrying out redundant processes and activities. Look into thefollowing areas:•• Human Resources: Onboarding training, workplace conduct compliance training, leadership development training•• IT Group: Systems rollout training, IT skills training, internal processtraining•• Product Support/Call Center: Product training for internal support,extended-enterprise customer training•• Marketing: Extended-enterprise prospect/customer training•• Sales: Sales training, leadership training, new product rollout•• Alliances: Partner new product training and competency certifications•• Health & Safety Departments: Mandatory compliance trainingDetermine the units in your organization thatreally need training#4
  5. 5. 5www.sumtotalsystems.com10 steps To Developing An Effective Learning Solution Business Case1. What are your strategic goals for the quarter and year? • Get a plan from them • Do they map to corporate goals, or roll up to other departmental goals2. How will you be measured on success? • This could be surprising • You are a business partner interested in their success3. What key metrics do you track to run your business/department? • Understand what these are, how they are gathered, how often • Know what influences each metric4. What do you feel are the barriers to your success? • These are the pain points • Do they map to corporate goals, or roll up to other departmental goals5. What issues are you facing today? • These may be different from goals • Alleviating existing pain could allow breathing room for future success6. Are you dependent on other departments for your success? • Showing interconnectivity could increase your case • Linking common goals drives synergyEachoftheseinterviewswillilluminatedirection,challenges,andpossibleopportunitiesfor consolidated learning initiatives. It is your job to identify them, and come up witha compelling case for presentation.Now that you have identified who the key people are, take the time to get to knowtheir training challenges and their business needs. Below are some questions that willhelp in your discovery:Interview these different stakeholders#5
  6. 6. 6www.sumtotalsystems.com10 steps To Developing An Effective Learning Solution Business CaseOnce you’ve mapped out the processes, met with other groups, highlightedredundancies, and showed inefficiencies, you can calculate how much time andmoney is spent managing training and reporting with current systems and processes.With this information in hand, you’ll be able to present a case for centralizing andautomating these functions. Using a single learning application to plan, implement,and assess learning activities will streamline processes, automate administrationtasks, and reduce non-compliance risk.Calculate the financial impactof training#7Management buy-in is crucial to organizing an enterprise-wide initiative. Whilelearning solutions aren’t always top of mind for CEOs, management does understanditems presented in terms of cost efficiency, revenue potential, and corporate risk.Finding a champion will:•• Provide you valuable feedback on what is important in making this case•• Share your progress with management•• Help endorse the project once you are actually making the caseFind a champion inmanagement#8Taking the time to map out the various processes and training requirements acrossyour organization will provide 3 major benefits:Conduct process-flows#6•• Expose areas of redundancy and leverage opportunities•• Highlight the manual steps in each process (for example, email notifications or course assignments)•• Reveal weaknesses in your compliance management and show areas or risk (through the process flows)
  7. 7. 7www.sumtotalsystems.com10 steps To Developing An Effective Learning Solution Business CaseAlthough the process of writing the business plan will differ from organization toorganization, the most important thing is to take your ROI numbers and the processflows you’ve put together and ensure they are compelling and coherent. Do theysupport each other in a clear and understandable way? Does it tell a compelling story?Make sure you address the major painpoints in your training process and articulatehow a learning solution will alleviate them. The diagram below has been used in thepast to help with this framework:Like any project in life, the only way to ensure that you get the results you want itis to lead it yourself. Be wary of having other groups pick up this initiative — loss ofcontrol could lead to the project losing steam or delivering unexpected results. Thisis your project, and for it to be successful, you’ll need to be its biggest champion. Ifyou follow all of the steps above, you’ll be well on your way to presenting a successfulbusiness case.Make the caseProject manage to the end#9#10
  8. 8. 8www.sumtotalsystems.com10 steps To Developing An Effective Learning Solution Business CaseConclusionThis is an exciting time for learning technology. Critical workforce needs and advances intechnology mean that learning professionals are at the forefront of the most importanttalent challenges. With the right technology, you can know that you are up to the taskand ready to deliver.As the market leader in enterprise learning, SumTotal can help you address yourlearning challenges and make the most of the latest industry innovations.Why choose us?1. We offer an industry-leading learning solution, next-generation mobiletechnologies, and cutting-edge delivery of content and extended-enterprisesolutions.2. We’ve taken a different approach to product and technology integration. Whileeveryone else is still talking about product integration, it’s a reality with us today.And no one in the industry can match our ability to integrate data with other HRsystems; other enterprise systems, like CRM and POS; and even popular thirdparty sites like, and LinkedIn.3. Our learning solution is completely integrated with talent and workforceapplications.4. Our professional services teams are committed to your success — before, duringand after implementation.5. We put your people first. We’re all about learning and development. We’ll helpyour people be their best
  9. 9. 9www.sumtotalsystems.com10 steps To Developing An Effective Learning Solution Business Casecontact us todayWe’re ready to partner with you. For additional information, send an email to:connect@sumtotalsystems.comAbout SumTotalSumTotal Systems, LLC, the largest independent provider of integrated HR solutions,is increasing the performance of some of the world’s most successful organizations,including AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN[ADR]; London: AZN), Amway (KUL: AMWAY), andSeagate (NYSE: STX). Providing the industry’s only Talent Expansion Platform, SumTotalhelps organizations improve and expand their employee talent and become great placesto work. SumTotal’s people-focused applications, available on premise and in the Cloud,enable in-context, just-in-time development designed to advance employees’ skills andknowledge. For more information or to request a demo, please call +1 (866) 768-6825(US / Canada), +1 (352) 264-2800 (international) or visit headquarters:SUMTOTAL SYSTEMS, LLC2850 NW 43RD STREETSUITE #150GAINESVILLE, FL 32606 USAPHONE: +1 352 264 2800FAX: +1 352 374 2257emea:SUMTOTAL SYSTEMS, UK3RD FLOOR, 100 LONGWATER AVENUEGREEN PARK, READINGBERKSHIRE, RG2 6GPUNITED KINGDOMPHONE: +44 (0) 1189 315 777FAX: +44 (0) 1189 867 365APAC:SUMTOTAL SYSTEMS INDIA PVT. LTD.7TH FLOOR, MAXIMUS TOWERSBUILDING 2B, MINDSPACERAHEJA IT PARK, CYBERABADHYDERABAD, AP- 500081, INDIAPHONE: +91 (0) 40 6695 0000FAX: +91 (0) 40 2311 2727© 2013 SumTotal Systems LLC. All rights reserved. SumTotal and the SumTotal logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of SumTotal Systems, LLC, and/or its affiliates inthe United States and/or other countries. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners. 13_0313_FG_NH