Learning leaders remain divided about the correct way to demonstrate the business impact that learning has on a larger organization.
For example, Thomans Carins, of the Cairns Blaner Group, feels that this problem is a result of technology shortfalls. Experts that hold this perspective call for new and expanded usage of learning technologies, the integration of learning management and performance management systems, and the expansion in the usage of cloud technology.
The second set of training thought leaders make the case that training professionals often fail to communicate the business impact of learning because they are measuring the wrong things. Professor M. Srimannarayana, of Shri Ram Centre for Industrial Relations, conducted research that uncovered an inverse relationship between both what training professionals consider important, and what their business partners feel is important. Training professionals who agree with Dr. Srimanarayana, make the case that learning and development professionals need to do a better job of needs analysis, improve their instructional design skills, and master the craft of training.
A third approach to solving the problem is one that could be referred to as a balanced approach. Josh Bersin suggests both technology integration along with improvements in needs analysis, and instructional design skills.
The bottom line is there is no magic solution to the problem to communicating the business impact of training programs. Implementing a pure technology solution would be costly and time-consuming. Process changes and skill upgrades would be less expensive in the short term, but could also take time to get up and running and would also be expensive in the long term as training personnel would need manually to create reports.
The balanced approach is perhaps the most reasonable, when considering approaches to communicate the business impact of learning programs. It is clear that thedisconnect about what is being reported is not a technology issue. As Srimannarayana points out, the problem exists simply because training professionals do not measure anything above the reaction level as prescribed by Don Kirkpatrick. Technology enhancements do, however, provide additional opportunities that make it easier for this information to be captured.