Seven objections to investing in learning and development platforms (with exceptional counterarguments)

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Investing in new learning and development platforms can be expensive, but it could save on costs and improve profits in the long term; you just need to demonstrate how

Have you ever tried to convince a friend or a colleague to do (or not do) something that will help them in the future? If you’re looking to get investment for a new learning management system for your company, then you might have another conversation like this on the horizon – one that you’re probably not looking forward to, because there will be some tricky questions to answer.

There are significant costs involved in business software investment, and you may get valid reasons why this shouldn’t be done right now – especially if you’ve had challenges with learning management systems previously, or you already have a training programme that works (even though senior stakeholders know can be improved). But there are plenty of reasons why stakeholders should commit to investing in LMS software.

So here are seven objections you’re most likely to receive from decision-makers in your organisation when pitching to invest in a new corporate e learning platform – and how you can respond to explain why this expense will bring positive results for your company and your people.

 

Seven common objections to investing in learning and development platforms

  1. “It’s just a learning platform – it doesn’t offer any other functions”
  2. “We’ve tried this before”
  3. “We haven’t been able to integrate a learning platform with other systems in the past”
  4. “I can’t identify the ROI for this new software”
  5. “We’re reluctant to invest because of current economic conditions”
  6. “Our budget and/or time is required in other areas”
  7. “This is for large organisations, not a small company like ours”

“It’s just a learning platform – it doesn’t offer any other functions”

1. “It’s just a learning platform – it doesn’t offer any other functions”

This objection simply doesn’t hold true any more: modern learning platforms like Ciphr LMS can provide a range of functionalities, much broader than the training portals of old. At this point, you can show the advantages of having a consolidated learning environment where you share training materials and activities. It also helps you to improve the experience of digital learning for all your people, whether they’re office-, field- or home-based.

But there’s another element that a learning platform has over a training portal: it helps you build networks, establish communities, and create a learning culture within your organisation. It means employees can add value to colleagues’ learning, rather than just relying on the content held on your LMS. Platforms with social learning functionality can support and manage this knowledge exchange by creating internal networks, which will not only promote collaboration and creativity, but also help build a connected workforce. These networks are a great way to encourage a culture of learning.

Learning and development platforms also support formal mentoring programmes. In Ciphr LMS, for example, employees can use this social function to search for colleagues with certain expertise with whom they can connect for advice and help. It also lets people nominate themselves to become a mentor.

Social functions also encourage peer-to-peer exchange. This supports the ideals of social learning and allows for discussion among like-minded employees, or those with specific goals or objectives. Discussion groups are also great for new starters as they can exchange ideas and best practices, plus get to know their colleagues.

“We’ve tried this before”

2. “We’ve tried this before”

Many organisations move on from their learning platform due to poor usability, high costs, or a a previous experience that left a bad impression. However, things will have changed since your company last invested in LMS software.

There are many different vendors that offer a range of software and functions, and your business will have certain demands of a learning platform that may be unique to you. So there’s a chance your previous learning software just simply didn’t meet your needs.

That’s not the only reason it may not have worked, though. It could have been technical issues with the software, limited stakeholder buy-in, a roll-out that wasn’t great, poor communication, or any number of other factors. Make sure you analyse what went wrong last time, then have an action plan in place for your next implementation programme.

Let’s take a step back, though. When assessing the market for a new LMS provider, it’s essential not only to understand what the software is capable of, functionally, but also that you get to know the team behind the system. At Ciphr, we have decades of experience in digital learning design and development and help you make the most of all functionality, and our team of experts are committed to your success.

 

“We haven’t been able to integrate a learning platform with other systems in the past”

3. “We haven’t been able to integrate learning and development platforms with other systems in the past”

There will have been technological advancements since then, so it will be easier this time around. You’ll need to check if your company has the IT infrastructure to do this successfully, so it’s essential you conduct an assessment so you’re aware of any restrictions.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll need to ensure your chosen learning platform can integrate with other applications, such as your HR software. Integrated HR and LMS helps to provide robust reporting to your HR and L&D teams, while HR and payroll integrations link all your people and pay data to ensure accurate, efficient pay runs. A synced software suite is not only possible, it’s preferred.

Integration can lead to better data accuracy, as any changes made in one of these systems will then be reflected in the other automatically. Employee profiles will be on here, too, so you have all their relevant details to hand.

So how does this work with training and your LMS software? Your organisational structure will show who is in which position across the company, meaning you can provide the correct training to everyone depending on their job role and if a skills gap has been identified.

I can’t identify the ROI for this new software”

4. “I can’t identify the ROI for this new software”

This is traditionally a difficult point to demonstrate for C-suite executives and leaders, but it is possible to show the return on investment (ROI). Management teams will want to know how eLearning – and investment in a new learning platform – will contribute to achieving the organisation’s objectives, how the platform will generate ROI, and how its performance can be measured. The best LMS software won’t hold any value for senior management if you can’t demonstrate these points.

While you might have the figures to calculate the learning platform’s ROI, it’ll be a challenge to show it if there’s no direct monetary value. This is where Dr Jack Phillips comes in as, in the early 2000s, he updated the Kirkpatrick model from the 1950s. This became the four-level ROI methodology, and includes approaches for isolating learning effects from other factors – boosting the evaluation’s integrity. Your ROI assessment should cover:

  1. Evaluation planning: develop project objectives, plus evaluation plans and baseline data
  2. Data collection: both during and after project implementation
  3. Data analysis: separate project effects, convert data into monetary value, then calculate the ROI – with project costs and intangibles identified
  4. Reporting: communicating the result

Over time, these learner analytics will become important to your management team. You can measure specific data points, such as user satisfaction, how often delegates interact with their peers, and feedback about course instructors. But there’s one set of data that might be the most important to you.

“Engagement is one way your LMS can help you demonstrate ROI,” says Andrea Matkin, LMS sales manager at Ciphr. “You can get feedback on the training you provide to employees, which will be useful for future planning. There are also functions such as gamification – where delegates can win badges, score points and keep track of their progress against others – that can also help you to validate this data.”

The more you find out about learners’ behaviours, the greater your ability to create learner-centred materials for them to use – helping you to boost engagement with your e learning platform, and therefore your ROI.

“We’re reluctant to invest because of current economic conditions”

5. “We’re reluctant to invest because of current economic conditions”

That’s understandable: inflation in the UK is at a 40-year high, while the World Bank says we’re ‘perilously close’ to a global recession. But is it correct to delay investment in a learning platform?

Probably not.

A 2022 report by the Financial Services Skills Commission (FSSC) and PwC UK found that financial services firms could save up to £49,100 per employee by reskilling existing employees rather than hiring someone new with the same skills. Data showed it would cost an average of £80,875 to use the ‘redundancy and rehire approach’, compared to an average of just £31,800 to reskill a current employee.

The report went on to add that onboarding and inefficiencies from employee turnover for companies with 30,000 employees would cost £57.3 million a year. Over four years, it was projected an organisation of this size would save between £75 million and £115 million by upskilling their current workforce for vacant roles.

Need more convincing? The CIPD’s Labour Market Outlook autumn 2022 stated that nearly half – 46% – of employers currently have hard-to-fill vacancies, with 53% of this group expecting this to increase over the following six months. And the top response to these hard-to-fill vacancies? Upskilling existing staff: 47% of employers had used this approach over the previous six months, with 44% planning to do this in future.

“Our budget and/or time is required in other areas”

6. “Our budget and/or time is required in other areas”

While the upfront cost of a learning platform may be significant, it will save you money in the long term. For starters, it’s more cost effective and less time-consuming to manage and offer training digitally rather than arranging face-to-face sessions because you don’t need to consider paying (or booking) instructors, transportation, overnight accommodation, and catering, or hiring a venue.

You could choose the cheapest software option available to your business, but you’ll have to consider whether it meets your training requirements and has the features learners will need. So the overall cost will depend on the solution that best suits your organisation and, while it may be a significant investment, it should pay off through greater employee productivity and satisfaction.

Engagement will also need to be considered when it comes to your time and budget because, if the learning platform you choose is easy to use and captures the attention of your employees, it’s more likely your ROI will increase. In 2019, Forbes quoted a report that stated disengaged employees at US companies cost $550 billion a year. Another report by Gallup in 2022 added that profit increases by 23% when teams are engaged.

Introducing functions such as social learning and gamified learning will keep employees coming back for more training. It also means learners’ new skills can be put to use immediately – making a meaningful impact on your company, sooner.

Related: The essential LMS implementation plan: expectations, estimated timelines and exceptions

“This is for large organisations, not a small company like ours”

7. “This is for large organisations, not a small company like ours”

This simply isn’t true: learning management systems can be used by organisations of any size, in any industry, although the larger your company, the greater the benefits you’re likely to see.

Using a specialist learning platform to manage and share training activities helps your company reach employees who work remotely, and those who aren’t tied to a desk all day. Online training also lets instructors access more learners, reducing costs compared to teaching the same number of delegates through in-person training. Any learning resources can be added and accessed at any time, so you don’t need to print any physical versions – creating an additional saving. Plus, it’ll create a learning library that employees can refer back to any time for a refresher.

And if you have plans to grow your business, you can build on that solid foundation of training within the company. Having a cloud-based learning platform means you can easily add users and functions when you require them.

Related reading:

Is now the time to invest in learning and development platforms?

Each organisation will have its own challenges when it comes to deciding whether to invest in a learning platform – whether that’s budget, time, ROI or a previous bad experience with system integration – but there are so many more possibilities available now that weren’t just a few years ago. There will be certain risks (and a poor short-term economic outlook won’t help with that), but you can be in a better position by having a workforce that’s actively engaged with training and upskilling activities to help your business achieve its goals.

To find out if Ciphr LMS is the right learning platform for your organisation, book a demonstration with one of our experts. You can also download our brochure to find out more about our suite of products.

 

This article was first published on Digits.co.uk – a Ciphr Company.