Every year, the corporate budget season puts departments on the defense. There’s strong pressure to justify expenses, and that can sometimes be difficult for learning and development programs. The direct impacts of training operations can be hard to see, and the department often doesn’t directly generate revenue. Negotiating enough budget for training is one of several major challenges preventing many Training teams from scaling their operations.
Making the training budget an attractive investment for business leaders requires instilling a mindset shift at many companies. Training operations produce obvious costs, but often, the value they contribute is often only understood in an abstract way, rarely tied to concrete statistics that are meaningful to the business. That can make it difficult for corporate leaders to feel that an investment in training operations has paid off.
Increasing, demonstrating, and clearly communicating the concrete value of training operations is key to justifying L&D spend. A learning and development strategy that takes an infrastructure approach to learning tech can provide the upper hand in budget negotiations.
What is Software Infrastructure?
Infrastructure is an investment in the future by building systems which provide efficient access to needed goods and services. A power grid is an excellent example. Before there were modern power grids, individual generating stations ran dedicated cables directly to their customers. This left early 20th century cities snarled with competing, redundant cable networks, while keeping electricity expensive and unreliable.
Building a centralized power grid in major cities often took decades of negotiations. But the results were a game-changer. A less wasteful and more reliable system of power lines meant everyone had access to electricity. Power could be shared over long distances across the grid. A single generator going offline no longer meant customers losing power.
Costs for consumers went down, reliability went up, and electricity became a mainstay of the modern economy.
Software can function in a similar way, at the scale of your operations. Just replace electricity with data and you can start to understand how an infrastructure approach could benefit your team.
Currently, many Training teams use anywhere from 9-12 different software systems to manage and deliver their training. These complex tech stacks are like old electrical networks – disconnected, redundant, and inefficient. They make data difficult to access, which makes data-driven insights and decision-making almost impossible.
Centralizing your learning tech around a training operations platform can greatly improve efficiency. Administrate’s platform was designed from the ground up to integrate with other systems and streamline your operations. In the same way a power grid coordinates generators, it can coordinate your learning technology. The result is less wasted resources and more potential for high-ROI training initiatives.
Let’s take a closer look at how a long-term infrastructure approach can help justify the training budget.
Increasing the Efficiency of Training Operations
One of the best ways to demonstrate that budget is being used effectively is by reducing waste and inefficiency. Waste doesn’t have to involve money to be felt on your bottom line. Using resources like employee time inefficiently can have an indirect impact on your budget.
Poorly-designed training software is one of the biggest causes of waste on most Training teams. Those complex tech stacks of disconnected systems mean that tasks which should be straightforward instead involve lots of manual effort. Transferring data between systems often requires the team to maintain elaborate systems of spreadsheets. This can quickly absorb a huge amount of your team’s time. It also introduces human error into your datasets and causes potentially expensive mistakes.
Doing the most with the training budget you already have demonstrates a commitment to efficiency and value. To get maximum return on your time and money, you should consider implementing a training operations platform. A platform like Administrate can connect to your other learning tech and centrally compile your data. That makes gathering data for any reason much easier – and it prevents costly mistakes caused by manual data transfers. It can also automate many basic tasks, such as mass communications and course enrollments, saving employees time.
Leveraging Training for Mainline Business Impact
When the C-suite is negotiating budgets, their interest is primarily in protecting the business’s bottom line. Metrics like course completion rates or learner satisfaction are crucial for the Training team. But ultimately, they don’t tell business leaders much about whether training operations are generating value to justify their expense.
Justifying training budgets requires creating and communicating direct links between L&D spend and KPIs that matter to the C-suite. A learning and development strategy built with the explicit goal of linking training to business impact is key.
Collaborating to Boost KPI Achievement
It isn’t controversial to say that every training program should have a goal. But what if every training program’s goal was fulfilling a KPI from another department?
Software can serve as infrastructure that boosts the Training team. In the same way, an efficient Training team can serve as infrastructure supporting the success of the whole business. Identifying departmental KPIs that could be assisted through training initiatives helps align the training function more closely with business success. That, in turn, highlights the importance of an adequate training budget.
Digging into data from other departments and comparing it to training data can identify problems throughout the business. Often, Training will be well-positioned to provide a solution. But that requires software that can handle and analyze data types that may have little or nothing to do with training. Limited, point-solution learning tech just isn’t going to cut it.
A training operations platform, designed for integration with other systems, is well-suited to provide infrastructure support for data analysis. With some setup, a well-designed training operations platform can be customized to handle data from other departments. That enables a learning and development strategy built around empowering the rest of the business.
For example, within Administrate’s training management system, you can create custom data fields containing whatever data you need, and link those data fields to software within another department. That data field then creates two-way communication that gives both departments easy access to key data points.
Imagine linking HR’s employee compliance data directly into your training management software. Not only could the Training team immediately see if an employee was about to lose a key certification, but HR could immediately see which employees are receiving the training they need to stay compliant. Making that connection through software can remove a huge amount of back-and-forth communication and allow both departments to easily inform their decision-making and planning with data.
Communicating the Importance of the Training Budget
Using training data to solve problems throughout the organization is a key step. But getting the credit for those solutions isn’t always straightforward. Using Training’s resources to boost other departments’ success is key. But the success will only register with their KPI’s and their reporting unless there is clear communication of Training’s role.
No one is going to go out of their way to credit the Training team for their success. Remember, other departments have budgets to defend, too. So training leaders need to be aggressively linking their operations to impacts on the rest of the business.
One of the biggest shifts to be made is to reduce the amount of reporting done on the training function itself. The C-suite does not set the training budget based on learner satisfaction or how many hours of vILT were delivered. Those metrics don’t communicate anything about whether the training provided value to the business.
What will communicate value is being able to directly link a course on manufacturing processes to reduced manufacturing errors. Or connecting updated support representative training to increased call satisfaction from customers. Or showing that new onboarding procedures correlate with 10% lower new-hire turnover.
Communicating these metrics requires sophisticated and customizable reporting architecture that only comes with an infrastructure approach to software. Most existing learning tech has static reporting that can’t adapt to report on different kinds of training data. It just can’t handle the diversity of data and analysis needed to paint the full picture of training’s business impact.
But a training operations platform like Administrate comes with powerful and customizable reporting capabilities. This is all part of our commitment to providing a software infrastructure, coordinating your data and your tech stack for maximum potential.