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pixel.gif (807 bytes) Measuring business results
THE REAL BENEFITS of training can not be measured in terms of learner reactions, nor the amount of learning that has been achieved; not even the extent to which behaviour may have changed. The real benefits come from improved performance – traditionally the hardest training outcome to forecast or measure.

So, what do when the going gets tough? Back away and focus our evaluation efforts on easier measures? No, we do the very best we can, because all other measures fail to reflect the hard reality that training must pay off in measurable business results.

If it is any comfort, trainers are not alone in finding it difficult to calculate the benefits of what they do. Is it any easier to measure the benefits obtained from launching a new product, running an advertising campaign, initiating a research programme or changing the pay and benefits policy?

Let's look at some of the major categories of benefits:

Labour savings
Labour savings occur where, as a result of the training, less effort is needed to achieve current levels of output. We have to assume that savings are realised by a reduction in the amount of labour applied to a particular job, not by utilising the newly available time to achieve further output on the same job.

Labour savings will only be realised if the labour applied to a job can really be reduced, whether this comes as a result of transfers of staff to new positions, re-allocations of work or redundancies. If the time savings simply result in more slack, then there is no saving.

Examples of labour savings include:

  • reduced duplication of effort
  • less time spent correcting mistakes
  • faster access to information

Productivity increases
Productivity increases occur where, as a result of training, additional output can be achieved with the same level of effort. This implies that the organisation requires or desires more output in the area in question. If it does not, then it might be better to express the benefit as a cost saving.

Examples of productivity increases include:

  • improved methodologies reducing the effort required
  • higher levels of skill leading to faster work
  • higher levels of motivation leading to increased effort

Other cost savings
Cost savings can be achieved in a variety of ways, not just through savings in labour. Examples include:

  • fewer machine breakdowns
  • lower staff turnover
  • a reduction in bad debts

Obtaining measures
Level 4 measures are the key performance indicators of the organisation and, as such, you will probably find that the relevant data is already available. However, you may need to work hard to gain access to it in the form you need.

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                                                     Fastrak Consulting Ltd, 1999. All rights reserved.                                   Last revised 1/8/99