Companies that implement a learning management system know they’re going to gather a lot of data, but some fail to appreciate just how much data they’ve signed up for. Research suggests that LMS Experience API activities generate about 1 million reporting statements per day for large-scale online training initiatives. Making sense of that seemingly endless trail of tech breadcrumbs can be tough.
For businesses, switching from traditional to online training is the easy part, but utilizing eLearning data is the important part. Unless administrators are prepared, all that data can go to waste. Gartner estimates that 60% of all enterprise-level data projects fail to advance past piloting and experimentation because business leaders are unsure how to analyze the results.
Companies like Dow Chemical and Nortel have saved millions of dollars upfront by implementing online training through an LMS. But there are plenty of subtler ways an LMS can maximize revenue and minimize costs — if businesses know how to interpret the data.
The value of context
An LMS enables businesses to track performance on both an individual and companywide level. LMS data makes it easy to see when someone needs more direct support on a particular subject. Likewise, administrators can use the data to identify areas where employees struggle as a group, which signals that the company might be better served by a different approach to that subject.
An LMS can also reveal untapped abilities among team members. After LMS data shines a light on an employee’s hidden talents, his or her company can maximize that employee’s value. The employee can also lean on the learning management system to further develop those talents.
Ultimately, interpreting LMS data is about adding context to performance. Businesses don’t waste money on ineffective training materials or underperforming employees because it’s easier to see why something — or someone — isn’t working. That’s why LMS data helps eliminate inefficient training methods that can cost a business more than $13 million annually for every 1,000 employees.
These four tips can help business leaders develop an effective data strategy to make the most of an LMS:
1. Focus on goals and outcomes.
It’s not necessary to use every piece of data. (To be honest, it’s usually not even possible.) So how does a business know which data points to evaluate? The answer lies in corporate objectives.
Before diving into any learning management system reports, businesses should clarify their goals and desired outcomes. For example, say a business wants to increase customer satisfaction ratings by a specific percentage over the coming quarter. With that goal in mind, the business would choose to focus on LMS data pertaining to customer service and sales skills, systems, and product knowledge.
2. Create evaluation criteria and schedules.
After setting clear goals, a business will be able to pick the right criteria to evaluate performance. Once a business decides it wants to increase customer satisfaction, for example, it will set a benchmark in the LMS data (e.g., employees must score above 90% on a product knowledge test) and a schedule to meet that benchmark. Setting criteria will help a business avoid drowning in data.
Businesses should revisit these benchmarks regularly to ensure they’re attainable and valuable. At the end of the training schedule, cross-referencing the LMS data with other key performance indicators can help determine whether the training had the expected benefit.
3. Spot gaps and trends with data visualizations.
A valuable perk of owning an LMS is having instant access to visualizations that help decipher raw data. Charts generated by an LMS allow businesses to quickly and clearly identify knowledge gaps. Rather than wait for those gaps to develop into noticeable performance problems, a business can revisit the training immediately and chart a course to fix the problem.
If a high percentage of a business’s employees are unable to successfully complete a sales training program, for example, the business could immediately use LMS-generated visualizations to see the sticking points. That visualization will help determine the best solution, whether it’s enriching the activity, adding a new activity, providing extra tips, or something else.
4. Invest in an LMS platform with rich reporting features.
Of course, data is only as robust as the LMS it comes from. The good news is that plenty of LMS vendors realize how important big data sets can be to businesses, and those LMS vendors offer a bevy of customizable reporting and analytics tools to help.
Businesses exploring the multitude of LMS platforms should ask which metrics are most important today and which will become important as the company grows. The sooner leaders can identify what the company needs from an LMS, the easier it will be to find the right vendor and product.
An LMS monitors every move a user makes once he or she has logged into the system, from performance during an online simulation to how long it takes to complete compliance training. Why let all that data go to waste? With the right plan, businesses can reap benefits from an LMS beyond just the initial cost savings.