We know the situation you are facing with the COVID-19 crisis. Budgets have been cut or are under scrutiny. The talent development team is challenged with showing the value of key programs, particularly the important, expensive programs involving a lot of people. At the same time, you don’t necessarily have the resources to devote to a comprehensive evaluation. So, what can you do?
Here are 7 ways to minimize resources and still show the value of a major program at the impact and ROI levels.
No. 1: Share the joy. It’s important for every member of the team to share the responsibilities for designing, developing and delivering impact and ROI. Everyone has a role in making the program work. For example, the needs assessment team should start with why, with a clear business measure at the beginning, ensure that the proper solution is implemented and develop objectives at multiple levels, up to and including impact. Then the design and development team must develop the program to deliver value at every level, from reaction to learning to application and impact. The facilitators’ role is to teach to business impact. Managers of the participants must support the learning and encourage success at the impact level. With this approach, the entire team has a role to make the program successful.
No. 2: Build in data collection and analysis. When designing for success, the developers must create tools to capture the data and even shift some of the responsibility for analysis to different groups, including the participants. For example, an action plan can shift the application and impact data collection and analysis to the participants, who provide details of action steps followed and the impact achieved, sort out the effects of the program and even convert data to money. If a program starts with the impact measure in mind in the beginning, the action plan is a way to improve the selected impact measure. There is a good chance that the participant will want to improve that measure. Buy-in has improved.
No. 3: Use shortcuts. You may not have time for the most comprehensive analyses, and perhaps, shortcuts will do. For example, a guiding principle in the ROI Methodology states, “When planning a higher- level evaluation, the previous level of evaluation is not required to be comprehensive.” This means that if you have a credible analysis at the impact level, then maybe shortcuts with self-assessment instruments for application and learning would be sufficient.
No. 4: Use estimates. Sometimes estimates are appropriate to use, particularly if other methods are not available. If you don’t have the time to conduct an experimental versus control group, mathematical modeling or trendline analysis, estimates can be used to sort out the effects of the program on the data. Also, estimates can be used to arrive at the monetary value of a particular data item for the ROI analysis. Estimates are appropriate if they are taken from the most credible individuals, collected in a nonthreatening and unbiased way, and adjusted for the error, another guiding principle of the ROI Methodology.
No. 5: Use simple statistics. There are times when hypothesis testing, factor analysis or multiple variable regression analysis might be helpful for some types of analysis. But the key is to keep it as simple as possible and use only what is necessary. The audience for this level of evaluation is the sponsor or executives who are funding this program. They have a desire to keep it simple. Sometimes simple averages and ratios will do.
No. 6: Use available tools and templates. This is the time to shamelessly borrow from others. ROI Institute will share information with you and provide tools and templates to any individual who needs help, even if they have not participated in ROI Certification.
No. 7: Be selective when evaluating to this level. Keep the number of programs evaluated at impact and ROI levels to a precious few. This level of evaluation is for programs that are very expensive, high profile, important to the success of the organization or tied to strategy. These are usually major soft skills programs that attract management attention and consume much of the L&D budget. Keep it sensible and try not to tackle too much.
These seven simple techniques to follow in these difficult times will allow you to show the impact of key programs. This will help leaders make critical decisions about allocating resources and make sure talent development obtains its proper allocation.