This blog is part two of a five part Training Budget Defense series. This article focuses on how improving your team’s data fluency can strengthen your position during the budgeting season.
For specific, data-driven recommendations tailored to your team’s needs, we encourage you to take our Scalability Index Assessment. It’ll give you a deeper view of how your team compares to a baseline of hundreds of other Training teams.
What Is Data Fluency?
Data fluency has two parts. The first part is having the skills and capacities needed to use and communicate with data. This kind of data fluency exists on the level of the individual employee.
The second part, which is less commonly talked about, is an organizational commitment to communicating with and utilizing data. That involves systems, processes, and expectations that help standardize and simplify the use of data. It also involves transparent access to data and transparency about how other employees, as well as management, are using data.
Achieving data fluency requires creating an environment where employees are enabled and encouraged to work with data. That means having systems in place to make training data easy to access and manipulate. Sadly, most existing learning technology just won’t cut it.
To see the benefits of a data-fluent workforce, they need a software infrastructure that allows them to succeed. Data spread out across disconnected systems, or restrictive, pre-built reporting, is going to hold your team back.
What you’ll need to achieve the full impact of improved data fluency is a comprehensive training management platform, like Administrate. With a training management platform, all of your learning technology can be integrated and connected to a single central repository.
That means easy access and full visibility to all of your training data. And with Administrate’s powerful no-code reporting engine, you can quickly analyze and report on every aspect of your operations. All this, from within the same software.
What Impact does Data Fluency have on Training Budgets?
Having high data fluency can help improve your position in budget negotiations by increasing the ROI of your training operations. The C-suite enters budget negotiations thinking like an investor, so consider the situation from that perspective.
Let’s say that your operations are inefficient. Maybe your team is bogged down with inadequate learning technology that makes it difficult to utilize your training data and optimize your operations. If you ask for an increased budget to address the problem, the C-suite sees that as a speculative investment. You’re not delivering right now, but you’re promising performance if they’ll invest. That’s a risky bet for the C-suite to take.
Now let’s say you take the time to invest in improving your operations first. You increase your efficiency, and work to deliver training that moves the needle on core business objectives. That might stretch your budget now, certainly. But later, you’ll be able to demonstrate that an investment in the training budget is already delivering high value to the business. In that case, asking for more investment is a much more attractive proposition for the C-suite.
But just how does increasing data fluency increase the overall ROI of your Training team? The increased efficiency comes from unlocking the full potential of your employees. They’ve accumulated valuable practical experience in their roles, and applying that experience is the key.. To increase the efficiency of your operations, you need to upskill your workers in data fluency. That way, they can convert their practical knowledge into data-backed insights.
The Importance of Practical Experience
Militaries around the world tell a common story – a new 2nd lieutenant arriving at their first platoon command. This lieutenant, fresh from officer training, believes themselves to know everything necessary to command a small unit. Within days of arriving, they instead discover that their subordinates are vastly more experienced and capable than they are. The lieutenant has a deep theoretical understanding of doctrine and command – but the enlisted soldiers know how things are actually done.
A good lieutenant will cooperate with their unit and use that experience as a resource. A bad lieutenant will insist that they alone know how things should be done. By ignoring their subordinates’ experience, these lieutenants quickly become both ineffective and unpopular.
The experiences, education, training, and backgrounds of employees and managers are vastly different. Managers’ backgrounds leave them well-suited to the leadership role. But employees have a unique and important perspective on the practical realities of daily operations. That practical knowledge is a crucial, under-valued resource. Utilizing it can make your whole team more efficient and effective at converting your budget into value for the business.
How Practical Experience and Data Fluency can Increase ROI
Increased data fluency allows employees a standardized way of backing up, communicating, and applying their practical knowledge. Training data can be a powerful tool to compliment your employees’ existing knowledge base.
Data-fluent employees can use training data to confirm and test their existing knowledge about inefficiencies in your team’s processes. Something as simple as identifying important metrics that are missing from your reporting can potentially empower your team to succeed.
And with more qualified employees dealing with data, the chances are higher than you’ll identify subtle trends and long-term patterns. These might not be immediately obvious in raw training data. That, too, can be a potent guide to strategic thinking.
The result of increased data fluency is a team that’s built for self-optimization. Backing up practical knowledge with data means you can continuously find ways of improving your ROI. Improved ROI, of course, translates directly into savings on the budget, and a strong negotiating position. That kind of constant improvement sends a strong signal to the C-suite that the Training team is a good place to invest.
Check out the rest of this blog series for more tips and strategies for shoring up the training budget. We’ve identified five key areas where Training teams often have room to improve.
- Business Intelligence
- Data Quality