How is our brand-new onboarding program working out? Is it an improvement over the last one? We’re working with a new vendor for our leadership program; is it better than the last one? We just implemented an exciting new training program for our sales teams; is it more effective than the last one?

These questions are all logical and necessary questions that any business-minded leader should be asking, right? So, would you be able to answer them? If your stakeholders cornered you and looked you in the eye and asked, “Why are we changing our training program this year?”, what would you say?

Could you tell them the new training will bring more benefits to the business? Could you tell them how the overall benefits and costs of the new program compare to the overall benefits and costs of the old program? What are their respective return on investment (ROI)? Everyone should ask — and answer — these questions before launching a new training program.

So, how might you start proving one training program is better for the organization than another?

1. Start Measuring

Your first order of business is to start measuring. If you’re ever going to be able to say one program is better than the other, you’ll need to have a simple but solid measurement strategy you can apply to both. You can’t talk about improvement if you don’t have a baseline.

When you start measuring, start small. Don’t think that you need to measure every training program that you launch; focus on the visible ones that you believe are important to your stakeholders and receive a lot of attention throughout the year. Programs that historically change a lot within your organization (like sales training or onboarding) are prime targets for measurement and data to add value to your decisions.

2. Measure as Much as Possible

Secondly, make sure you’re painting a full picture and measuring as many levels of effectiveness as you can. For instance, if you’re going to replace a program with a potentially more effective version, you should be able to say that the new program did a few key things better: It should impact more on-the-job behaviors (level 3) and have a bigger impact on the business (level 4), and, if there’s a huge cost difference between the two programs, the extra investment should be worth it (level 5, ROI). If you’re raising the price tag, you need to see significant improvements in business impact. If you’re lowering the price tag, you’ll want to make sure there are no huge degradations in business impact and performance.

3. Present All Results

Finally, make sure you present all your results to stakeholders. Make them understand that your decision to evolve your offerings and change or revise programs is based on research. Send a clear message to your stakeholders that you are keeping a program in place or swapping it out with a new one not because you “think” it might be better but because you’re following the data. Show them that you have hard results for both programs that inform you regarding which one is better.

Learning and development (L&D) professionals always want to do better. They always want to provide fresh content. They always want to incorporate the latest technology, and they always want to push the learner further with a more engaging and robust experience. But all those good intentions can be lost if they can’t show that all the new content, technology and engagement leads to greater business impact and ROI.

The only thing that will instill confidence in our business partners or clients, and pull all our new training proposals into one cohesive story, is measurement. If your L&D function becomes known as one that measures and makes sure it’s offering the best solutions, then you’ll always be viewed as a valuable business partner. Once you have a measurement strategy in place, you can keep proposing improvements to training and satisfy everybody’s hearts and minds.

Don’t miss Paul’s live session at the virtual Training Industry Conference & Expo.