The Close Relationship Between Training And ROI
It has never ceased to amaze me in my 20 years of working across multi-million pound IT projects how training is commonly ignored or seen as a “nice to have”. Organizations make huge investment into IT software, but very rarely realize the full Return On Investment (ROI) because they fail in ensuring business users understand how to use the software and the reasons and benefits of the change. Therefore, users do not effectively adopt the software.
If we look at a typical project lifecycle, significant effort and resource are dedicated to the production of the business case to get projects off the ground and then through each stage of the project lifecycle. The common aim is to implement a successful project that delivers on the business case and provides a defined ROI for the business.
Why Is ROI So Often Not Realized?
Projects are often primarily or solely driven by the IT teams in the organization. A key driver of this is that business users are “too busy” with their day-to-day jobs, and therefore, do not see early involvement in an IT project as a priority. This leads to the project success criteria not necessarily focusing on business adoption of the solution, but typically will have exit criteria specially designed around the number of bugs/defects outstanding. This is valid and very quantifiable.
Often, little thought is given to educating the business users. This is harder to define and measure, but is a critical component in driving a successful delivery. When ignored or not given enough focus it leaves the organization in a position where the IT team have delivered the desired solution, but adoption is both low and painful for business users.
Taking Strides To Deliver ROI
Training and business change should always be built into the acceptance criteria of any project. As part of the end-to-end project plan training needs to be an integral piece with input provided from the training team. The training team should be engaged with the consumers of the technology as early as possible, to understand how and why decisions are made and include this in the training. Having training experts actively engaged will provide innovative delivery options to ensure the platform users are fully engaged.
There should be clear and specific deliverables defining what “training” means and how it can be measured. Business stakeholders should refuse to sign-off projects where training is absent from acceptance criteria, forcing IT departments to focus on both the IT aspects but also the softer elements as we have outlined here. Without this the business users will be both frustrated and dissatisfied having to use a poorly trained platform with little business context.
Without effective change management and training, the ROI on IT implementations will rarely, if ever, be reached regardless of the quality of the platform build. Engagement with training experts will provide a multi-faceted approach to delivery. This will not just be a one off activity to tick a box, but provide continual re-enforcement and innovative solutions, such as building the training into the platform, to make real strides towards a real ROI.