F10- Ensuring ROI of Training

The same KM framework described in my previous blog is useful for ensuring the link between training and the bottom line.

A best practice in training framework is that developed by PAHRDF (Philippines-Australia Human Resource Development Facility) for its training projects for Philippine government agencies:

PARDF Training Model

The key elements of this approach are:

  • Training is customized; training design is driven by workplace development objectives (WDO), which in turn are driven by organizational goals and objectives
  • Desired output of training is a re-entry action plan (REAP) for each participant’s workplace practicum
  • Desired outcome of training are improvements in competencies via REAP
  • Training delivery is through face-to-face workshops (usually 1 week) followed by face-to-face or blended e-coaching (usually 1-3 months)

If the causal link between WDO and corporate targets is clear and quantifiable, then the ROI of training can be computed. The causal chain is:

Ensuring ROI of training

A caveat: as I pointed out in my earlier blogpost “Interactivity and Context”, the benefit is due to the interactive and joint effect of the training intervention and other pre-existing knowledge assets such as the technical preparation of the participants, their attitudes, policies affecting the workplace, etc.

When I learned about the PAHRDF model, it was a pleasant discovery for me because unwittingly I was using a similar model in my graduate KM class at the Technology Management Center of the University of the Philippines. I do not require term papers and I do not give tests or exams in this course. The student’s grade is determined by only one thing: an actual workplace KM practicum approved by the boss. The KM practicum is identified through a simple set of KM diagnostics, the results of which are shown and discussed with the boss as a basis for the boss’ choice of practicum topic. The practicum report consists of a PowerPoint presentation (the same presentation the student will use/used to present his practicum to his office colleagues and boss) and a manual or guidelines (to help those who will be involved in implementing the practicum).

I encourage the boss to email me his or her evaluation of the student’s work — an important input in my grading decision.

In more than 50% of the cases, the practicum was well-received by the boss so that it became part of the business process or standard operating procedures in the student’s workplace.

Here is an unsolicited email from one of my students last semester:

    “I just would like to thank you for sharing with us your expertise in Knowledge Management. Truly, this is one of my best subjects in Technology Management. Because of my practicum (business process improvement) in your course, I was tasked to implement it in our organization. I am spearheading the project on e-library. With the all-out support of the management, this has given me a lot of opportunity specifically in my career.

    “I hope you will open more subjects, seminars and the likes on practicing knowledge management in the future.

    “I have attached the presentation slides and some documents on my practicum. I have asked my manager to evaluate my practicum. I was advised by him that the evaluation was already sent last October 17.

    “Thank you, and hope to see you soon.”

My lessons learned:

  • Students’ emails such as the one above make the teacher feel good but the business impact of training is in the workplace; it should be measured there rather than somewhere in the minds of the learners.
  • Impact assessment is straightforward if the training intervention rests on a solid causal model linking training to business results.
  • ROI of training is less a methodological issue and more an issue of correct training framework/design.

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