What is the realistic outcome of managed learning implementation and is it right for you?

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1 1 What is the realistic outcome of managed learning implementation and is it right for you?

2 What is the realistic outcome of managed learning implementation and is it right for you? Is managed learning right for you? In an effort to focus their resources on core competencies, many organizations outsource their IT, their payroll, and even their recruitment, but many do not outsource their learning and development. With L&D teams coming under increasing pressure in today s organizations, this is changing. What benefits can be gained by appointing an external specialist to manage learning on behalf of your organization. If this is the first time that such a strategy has been suggested, you will no doubt, have many questions such as Is it appropriate for my business?, What exactly is involved in an outsourced managed service for learning? and How can it improve the quality of the learning and training that we provide worldwide? How should you proceed if you re intrigued by the potential of managed learning? We offer ten tips to help you assess the viability of managed learning and, if appropriate, implement a successful partnership. The L&D team wants to gain greater control of training, either by rationalizing the number of suppliers to ensure they re getting the best deal, or by measuring the effectiveness of training so they can calculate, or improve, the organization s return on investment from L&D. The L&D team wants to spend less time administering training and more time supporting line managers on important business issues. It also wants to improve the perception of the value that L&D has on the organization. These factors are driving organizations to consider managed learning. But what benefits can they realistically expect to gain? What can organizations realistically expect from a managed learning service? Managed learning - where an external specialist manages the learning on behalf of the organization - is gaining ground not only because it can relieve the pressure on L&D, but also because it can meet the needs of a changing business in a highly competitive environment. A new reality for L&D L&D teams are under constant pressure to do more with less. The global recession has forced incredible amounts of change on all companies and in particular on their people, which in turn has created a new reality for L&D in which: There is a need to maximise greater value from the L&D budget, particularly if that budget has recently been squeezed. Training is often under-utilized in the organization. Employees struggle to find time to attend training courses or, worse, they register for training and then have to pull out at short notice incurring cancellation charges.

3 The prospective key benefits of managed learning are: Cost savings A good managed learning provider should be able to save around 0% of the organization s annual training budget in the first year of service. Significant savings on overall spend with external training providers can be made by rationalizing suppliers, whilst maintaining the quality of delivery. Increase in training activity A 0% increase in training activity can be achieved by creating an enhanced perception of L&D in the organization and through more efficient training management. Better management information and increased control of training Managed learning providers can offer 100% accurate management information in real-time, giving L&D increased visibility and control over the training spend. Combined with expert analytics, this detailed information can help L&D teams to make more informed strategic decisions. Frees up L&D to focus on the business By managing the time-consuming back-office functions, such as training administration and vendor management, a managed learning provider can free up the L&D team to work closely with line managers, in the role of a strategic business partner. This helps L&D teams to better understand the requirements and to align learning provision with the needs of the business. Access to expert advisors Experienced managed learning providers employ some of the industry s leading thinkers and program designers. A good provider will have a global resource pool of experts in learning, training administration, vendor management, measurement and consulting. These experts can become a valuable extension of the client s team, providing a sounding board on both learning and broader business challenges. Greater value to the organization Managed learning providers can be held accountable, via service level agreements and key performance indicators, for the quality of the training delivered. It is in their interests to ensure that the organization achieves value, in terms of performance improvements, from the relationship. How do managed learning providers do it? When the issue of outsourcing is raised, it is easy to jump to the conclusion that it will result in a reduction in the quality of service provided, a loss of jobs or a loss of control. However, most managed learning providers will be keen to prevent these outcomes. Typically, they ll deliver their promises through: Rationalizing and managing suppliers With managed learning, cost efficiencies can come from better management of the buying activity. When was the last time your organization really looked at consolidating training spend with fewer suppliers? A managed learning provider will work smarter to create value by assessing suppliers, reviewing the terms and conditions in place and introducing consolidated monthly invoicing. Their volume-based purchasing power gives them a stronger negotiation approach with suppliers and they can bring new suppliers and networks to the mix, to expand the offering. They can therefore achieve cost savings without impacting the quality of delivery and, if required, preferred supplier relationships can be maintained. Major savings can be made by channelling the training spend centrally through approved suppliers, rather than having line managers and others in the business booking training for themselves or their teams inefficiently. Course consolidation How many courses in your current portfolio could be reduced in duration or delivered in innovative ways using emerging learning technologies? Managed learning providers will schedule courses that are appropriately structured and continuously market-tested to ensure that they continually evolve to improve performance and deliver against the business strategy. Automating training administration Some of the most time-consuming challenges for L&D are processing training requests, trying to locate a trainer, and training venue, and scheduling - and re-scheduling - delegates. Managed learning providers have proven processes and systems that streamline and automate much of this grunt work, freeing up time for L&D teams to focus on strategic issues and business relationships. Almost all of us are used to buying goods online, so why shouldn t employees choose and buy training through a learning portal? Rigorous evaluation Managed learning providers will undertake Kirkpatrick level evaluations to see which courses are high performing and which are not. The resultant information can be used to ensure greater effectiveness and to calculate the return on investment from L&D. Continuous improvement The best managed learning providers have a philosophy of continuous improvement. They re always seeking to enhance their service and to provide greater value to their clients. Managed learning is proving to be a popular option for organizations that want measurable business benefits from L&D. Today s managed learning relationships are sophisticated partnerships between the client and the provider, having been established through the involvement of the L&D, HR, procurement, finance and IT teams, as well as senior stakeholders and champions from the business.

4 Assessing the viability of managed learning and implementation in ten easy steps. So if you can benefit from cost savings, increased control of training and access to expert advisors, how should you proceed if you re intrigued by the potential of managed learning? Firstly, let s set the record straight. There s often a presumption that managed learning is an all or nothing process that will inevitably result in a major outsourcing deal. It doesn t have to be this way. In fact, a cafeteria-style approach to managed learning is gaining ground, where organizations pick and choose which aspects of their L&D to outsource. This approach scores on two counts: it enables organizations to enhance their L&D provision - with help in a specific area - and it also enables them to experiment safely with the concept of managed learning. Regardless of how much - or how little - you plan to outsource, you have to do your homework. The following steps will help you to decide if managed learning is right for you and, if so, they ll help you to procure and implement a successful managed learning service: 1. Understand the business requirements What is your organization trying to achieve and what are its key priorities? It is important to assess whether your employees currently have the capability and the capacity to succeed. If not, where are the skills gaps? Does your L&D strategy meet the needs of the organization and fit within the wider HR strategy? These questions will help to clarify the organizational context and to set the objectives for L&D.. Assess your L&D provision You need to analyze how training is currently procured and delivered in your organization. How are training needs currently identified and by whom? Do you know who your main training providers are and how much you spend with each supplier? Do you have accurate management data on attendance rates and training effectiveness? Where is L&D strong and where is it weak? Can you meet the changing demands of the business? What IT constraints are in place? Only when you fully understand the current situation can you really assess whether managed learning will be appropriate.. Consider the implications The cafeteria-style approach to managed learning enables you to improve any underperforming aspect of L&D. It can also free you up from the aggravation of administering training and managing suppliers. Your time could then be used more productively - and more rewardingly - in the role of a strategic business partner, working closely with line managers and leaders to better understand their requirements and to align learning provision with the needs of the business.. Create a project team If you decide to investigate the potential of managed learning, the first step is to consider who would be your key stakeholders and decision makers. Then create a project team. Your team could include representatives from L&D, HR, finance, procurement and IT. It s always helpful to have a senior manager involved who can champion the initiative. Consider who your key point of contact with the managed learning partner will be - and what that person s role is likely to involve.. Define the scope and expectations The project team needs to decide what will be in scope and what will be outside the scope. What specific aspects of L&D or locations will the service cover? What are the challenges in providing learning in these areas? Also, consider how you want to work with your managed learning partner. What will the roles and responsibilities be? What are your expectations about using a learning portal? If you re considering a shared service centre, would you expect this to be hosted by the managed learning partner or located on your site? How will you review activities?

5 . Choose your partner Find a responsive managed learning company that can meet your needs and help you define what great looks like. Look for people that you can work with and check that the company has the experience of managing complex training requirements and the flexibility to cope with changing priorities. Consider the quality of the training that they can provide and the performance improvements that they can deliver for your organization. Beware of those who make promises they can t keep. Do they have a strong track record? Do they have recognized experts who can work with your internal learning professionals? Can they undertake at least Kirkpatrick level evaluations of their courses? Can they work with your venue and logistics teams to manage training rooms and equipment? Do they have a philosophy of continuous improvement? This is a very important decision so choose your partner carefully. And, critically, can they help you evaluate and measure the impact learning has on business improvement? 7. Design and develop the service together Once you have identified your partner, work with them to help them to better understand your processes, systems and culture. Agree the roles and expectations and ensure that the implementation team members, and all stakeholders, are clear on the requirements. Agree the processes, procedures and any technical specifications for the scope of activity and determine how management information will be reported. Draft service level agreements, set key performance indicators and agree the invoicing process. 8. Tell employees what s happening and make it easy for them to access the service If you have new processes and training arrangements then make them clear to employees. Depending on the scope of the project, you could explain why you ve chosen a managed learning service and how this will benefit individuals and the organization - create a buzz. If you re using approved suppliers, then channel your training spend through them. Discourage line managers and others in the business from booking training for themselves or their teams autonomously. 9. Pilot the service Test the new approach to check that everything is working smoothly. Review whether the service is meeting expectations and the requirements of the business. Only go live when you re ready. 10. Evaluate the outcomes Use your defined governance structure, your service level agreements and your key performance indicators to monitor progress. Celebrate your successes and work with your managed learning partner to continuously improve the service, to achieve greater effectiveness. Many forward thinking companies are gaining a competitive advantage by focusing their precious resources on unleashing innovation to better serve their customers. A managed learning service is one way of ensuring that your employees, managers and leaders are equipped with critical skills to succeed. The steps we have outlined above, should help you to determine whether managed learning is the right approach for your needs. If appropriate, they ll also help you to proceed. A successful managed learning partnership could help you to improve the learning provision - and to enhance the perception of the value of L&D in your organization.

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