COVID-19 fundamentally changed the way we work, and virtual training has been instrumental in bridging the gap. According to one study, six in ten respondents stated that they have had to skill up during the pandemic. Additional research from Deloitte found that 78% of people experienced at least one moderate to a large change in their day-to-day routine.

To make matters worse, many businesses reactively implemented training technology in 2020 as they rushed to adapt to an unprecedented landscape — without considering a best-in-class experience. If yours was among them, you can no longer rely on these rushed, narrow-scope deployments. Your business needs more, and your people demand it.

In a survey published by Salesforce, 80% of respondents indicated that the experience a company provides is as important as its products/services. An additional two-thirds said their standards for good experiences are now higher than ever. These customers don’t solely apply those expectations to purchases — they bring them into the workplace, as well.

Navigating these challenges begins with taking a strategic approach to your 2022 software training budget. You need to plan effectively and invest intelligently. And that starts with understanding what it is you’re trying to achieve.

Step One: Define Your Customer Training Needs

How close is your training setup to meeting your current and future requirements?

Before you start planning your future customer training budget, you must establish your key performance indicators. To put it another way, you need to figure out what you’re trying to achieve with your training, and whether or not you did so successfully in 2021.

You must also establish how much of your training must be done in-person, how much of it can be conducted virtually, and whether a hybrid approach is worthwhile. This will inform how much you need to invest. Bear in mind that a virtual or hybrid approach is likely the best route — research indicates that eLearning can reduce instruction time by up to 60% and reduce training costs by up to 50%.

Lastly, determine how much of your training will be self-directed and how much will be virtual instructor-led training (VILT).

Step Two: Evaluate Existing and Required Capabilities

Are you currently meeting your software training key performance indicators (KPIs)?

Your next step is to determine how your training needs are expected to evolve in 2022.

Are you expecting significant business growth? Are you establishing a new line of business? How effectively do your training capabilities meet your current needs?

From there, evaluate your training technology’s supporting infrastructure, scaling capacity, services and baseline functionality. You’ll identify the right customer training solution for you.

Step Three: Understand the Current Landscape

Has the training landscape undergone significant changes?

In the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic, businesses underwent multiple years’ worth of digital transformation. Businesses of all sizes and across all sectors were forced to accelerate to keep pace. Software training goes hand in hand with this evolution, which is responsible for the majority of current trends in software training.

First, experiences facilitated via virtual training platforms are the new norm. In 2020, according to our State of Virtual Training Technology report, 98% of companies leveraged virtual training — up from 77% in 2017. 62% of businesses impacted by COVID-19 also spent more on training in 2021. Another 56% made plans to retool their training programs.

Underlying this shift to virtual is a concerted push for deeper integration and more unified training. Currently, 80% of training organizations currently use more than four distinct training technologies, and 38% use more than eight. Only 10% feel confident in their training technology integration.

Training platforms also now increasingly support data-driven training. Extensive analytics capabilities allow instructors and organizations to see both a high-level and granular view of each trainee’s performance and progress. Finally, although technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality have immense potential in the training sector, understand that this emerging technology is still incipient.

Step Four: Consider What Your Customers Need

Are you providing a value-driven experience?

We’ve already touched on the importance of personalization. Your trainees demand a tailored journey. By providing that to them, your training becomes significantly more effective and engaging.

In our recent State of Virtual Training Technology report mentioned above, we found that self-paced learning is also on the rise, with the industry expected to grow to $6.71 billion by 2024. In light of this, flexible learning options and flexible technology are both a must for geographically distributed companies.

Finally, mobile learning is also non-negotiable. The majority of people already use their smartphones to connect to the Internet. What’s more, evidence suggests that mobile learners both study more and retain more information. To support these flexible approaches, cloud-based training has to be the new norm.

Step Five: Calculate Your Budget (And ROI) for 2022

Every business’s customer training budget will vary depending on needs, goals, vertical and audience — but the process for calculating both budget and return on investment (ROI) remains the same across sectors.

To start, collect your training costs, revenue data, market trends, survey results and industry benchmarks.

Once you have estimated both revenue and expenses for 2022, calculating your expected training ROI is fairly simple: (Forecasted revenue – estimated costs) / costs x 100.

Now that you have a baseline understanding of your software training requirements and challenges, it’s time to dive deeper to plan your program and equip yourself with the most suited tools to establish a strong position in 2022 and beyond. To that end, you can learn more by downloading this 2022 Software Training Budget Tutorial.

The tutorial will tell you everything you need to know to build an experience-driven, highly effective software training program for customers and employees alike.