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Training Value

January 13 2014

Four Steps to Determine the Value of Training

Many businesses struggle with the question of whether they are getting their money’s worth in sending employees to training. This question can be applied to project management training as well as any other type of business training. You know the cost side of training too well. But how do you tell what the business value is?

The most common way to determine business value today is to ask the trainee whether he or she thinks the class was valuable. This is very touchy-feely and doesn’t give you much information to go on, but it is probably the most that most companies ask in terms of follow-up.

There is a process for more rigorously determining the value received for your training dollars. These ideas are not for the faint of heart. They take more preparation and they take more of that most precious commodity – time. But see if it makes sense, and whether the results of this process will give you a much better feel for the value that you are receiving from training. You can also start with some of these steps, and try for the rest later.

  1. The trainee and their manager meet a few weeks before the training class to make sure the trainee is ready for the class. The manager and trainee identify opportunities where the trainee can apply the new skills on his job.
  2. When the actual class begins each of the trainees completes an initial quiz showing his specific knowledge level of the class material.
  3. A week or two after the class, the trainee completes a post-class quiz showing his current knowledge level in the subject. For the most part, it is exactly the same as the initial survey from activity #2 above. This is compared to the initial survey to provide some sense as to how much the trainee learned. If this survey comes out close to the original version, it may show that the training might not have been very effective.
  4. Here is the key step. A few months after the class, the trainee and their manager meet again for a post-class assessment, which is a follow-up to activity #1 above. In this discussion, the trainee and manager discuss whether the class resulted in increased on-the-job skills and increased business value. Part of this discussion focuses on the opportunities that the trainee has had to apply the new skills. In fact, the training may have been superb, but if there have been no opportunities to apply the new skills, then the business value will be marginal.

The real test of business value is whether the class resulted in an increased skill level that can be applied to the job to make a person more productive. This cannot be determined immediately after a class. You need to wait a few months after the class to see whether or not the training has actually been applied to your job. This shows the true business value.