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What Learning Management Reports Do For You

May 31, 2001
Related Topics: Training Technology, Featured Article
If you're thinking of buying technology that tracks and measures youremployee training, the reports generated by that technology are essential. Thisis especially true now, since training budgets are often the first to be cut ina slowing economy.

    Generating the right reports can help you prove to the CEO that all that training in such areas as customer-service, diversity, leadership, safety andhazards, and harassment is actually paying off. After all, what your boss caresabout is only what you get out of the system -- not what you put in it.

    "Our clients are looking to show a meaningful ROI on theirtraining," says Jim Gionfriddo, CEO of ThoughtWare. "They're datadriven now."

    Generating training data has become such a significant area that it isattracting some workplace giants. Since leaving Washington, D.C., former LaborSecretary Robert Reich has taken a board position at a learning managementsoftware company. "Right now, managers often have no idea who's trained inwhat," Reich says. "Good Internet-based training technology could beenormously helpful for any-size company."

    Here's a look at some of the knowledge you can glean from learning managementsoftware, whether it's a stand-alone product or a module of your HRMS.

Tracking the success of training
    Ideally, you test employees before and after they go through training. Thenyou can use software to generate reports on the test results. The reports cantell you how individual students performed -- for example, what their highestand lowest scores were.

Tracking costs
    A learning management software system can generate a wide variety ofcost-related reports. You can figure out the cost of each training session andcompare it to the benefits of the session such as reduced fines, increasedemployee knowledge, or employee retention.

    You can compare budgeted costs and actual costs for a department or the wholeorganization. Or, you can hone in on individuals, not just the organization. AtHilton, for example, managers pull up cost reports to see how much they've spenton certain people as well as on specific training series.

Measuring training in relation to business results
    Learning management software can track corporate goals, and allow you tocompare training, test scores, and other data with company-wide goals. You canalso interface with company financial data in order to see how better-traineddepartments or divisions affect the bottom line.

    Marilyn Monteith, who is manager of operations at Royal Bank in Toronto, saysthat in addition to simply showing that employees could perform better on a testafter training, companies should compare their training results with actual jobperformance. "It's really not the training that's important; it's theperformance at the end."

    She says that it's also important -- though quite a challenge -- to take intoaccount any informal training that employees have received. "This includeson-the-job training, job aids, self-study materials, and other things thataren't so formal," she says. An employee, for example, may receive a smallamount of training on PowerPoint, but teach herself much more about the sameprogram on her own. "Monitoring that workplace learning is critical."

    With some systems, you can integrate recruiting and training management. Byusing this method, you can conduct an internal talent search to find out whichemployees match the skill sets for an internal job that was posted.

Staying in compliance
    One of the unsung benefits of automating your training record-keeping is thatit may help keep you out of regulatory trouble. The systems can notify you whenemployees are due for certain mandatory courses, thus reducing the likelihood ofa late fine.

    To illustrate the point, let's say your ergonomics policy has changed. Youwant to know if your warehouse employees have read the latest policies andprocedures. You can use the software to see who's pulled up information on thenew procedures, and who hasn't.

    You also can monitor the success of compliance training. In the case ofsexual harassment or diversity, for example, it's important for legal reasons toshow that employees have comprehended what they learned, not just sat through athree-hour class. The systems will keep track of test results for each employee.

    Compliance reports aren't limited to industrial companies keeping track ofOSHA-related training. At Maritz Inc., a travel service and market researchcompany in St. Louis, the HR team uses software to keep track of which employeeshave completed their mandatory programs. These include areas such as ethicstraining and the legal aspects of management.

Tracking employee history and guiding careers
    By using training technology, you can quickly review what training anemployee has received. You'll find information such as attendance, progress, andthe courses that the person plans to take in the future.

    At Bovis Lend Lease in New York City, senior HR manager Carol Karlin offerscourses to 625 employees in construction, software, and management training. Shekeeps track of the training that employees have completed, and is looking forways to show employees how learning certain skills will help them. With somesystems, you can do just that. HR can conduct a personal career objectivessearch to see if the objectives of a given employee match the company'sdirection. A system can proactively notify employees of jobs that match theirgoals. Employees can log on and see job openings that match their interests. Or,if there isn't a fit, the system could assemble career paths to prepare studentsfor the jobs they want.

Managers see their results
    You can also track training by individual manager. At FedEx, where employeestake three courses per year, workers enroll in classes and indicate the names oftheir managers. Managers track whether their employees have "testedout" of a given course and therefore aren't required to take it, or -- ifthey've taken the class -- how well they did. Depending on the kind of systemyou select, you may be able to customize it for a fee so that managers can posta variety of comments along with various reports.

    Account managers at AT&T Wireless, for example, use their software toshare "victories" with each other. They go into the administrativesection of the system and describe the business problem they faced, how thetraining helped them solve it, and lessons their colleagues can learn from theirexperience.

Projecting future training
    Charles Morris is HR manager for Forem USA, a 156-employee electronics firmin Sparks, Nevada. The company conducts training in areas such as hazardregulations, blood-borne pathogens, and electronics manufacturing. "It'sjust a myriad of training needs," Morris says. "I'm quite well snowedwith trying to get everything from a database."

    He's hoping to generate simple, quick reports that project what training hehas to accomplish in the next two months. Morris refers to another program hetried as "nightmare software from hell." He has identified learningmanagement software that's more user-friendly, and is awaiting the go-ahead tobuy it. "I want to be able to go in and pull out a report about what'snecessary next month," he says. "I want to go into a database and snapthat up and use it, and not deal with a system that may not give it to me."

Customized reports
    Many clients want to create and customize their own reports so they can bepresented in the format that works best for them, says Tim Kisner, trainingcoordinator at Gyrus Systems Inc., a learning management software company inRichmond, Virginia. For a fee, the company customizes its product to includesuch items as logos and e-mail addresses. A report can display the names ofstudents who have taken a course, but clients might also customize it to showstudents who have taken a series of related courses.

Workforce, June 2001, pp. 56-58 --  SubscribeNow!

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