Chief Learning Officer (04/11) Vance, David
To ensure that the learning and development (L&D) function is run like a business, an organization must develop a business plan. This document should feature the anticipated effect of learning on the organizational goal described by L&D. For instance, a program on consultative selling skills should lead to a 5 percent increase in sales. The next step is to compare the expected effect to the estimated cost of the program. The stakeholders of the organizational goal, such as the VP for sales, should take responsibility for providing this expected impact rater than the L&D leader. This is because the stakeholder requested the program or identified the need during planning stages with L&D. These discussions should typically focus on the need for the program, its target audience, timing, types of learning that might satisfy the need, cost, duration, and so on. It is also essential to examine what impact the stakeholder expects from the learning. If the goal is to increase sales by a certain percentage, it is essential to determine how much toward this goal the learning program represents. The stakeholder will usually state a range, and it would be advisable for L&D to assume the lower end. For example, if the goal is to raise sales by 10 percent, and the L&D program contributes half, this means L&D’s contribution represents 5 percent higher sales.
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Whatever metrics are chosen, they should be measured frequently.