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The Real Value of Training: Measuring and Analyzing Business Outcomes and the Quality of ROI

The Real Value of Training: Measuring and Analyzing Business Outcomes and the Quality of ROI

by Ron Stone

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"Ron does such a great job answering the question that has baffl ed many learning professionals for years: How do we measure and demonstrate the value of training. Applying his methodology of ROI is inspiring in that the exercise helps to translate training activities into improved



"Ron does such a great job answering the question that has baffl ed many learning professionals for years: How do we measure and demonstrate the value of training. Applying his methodology of ROI is inspiring in that the exercise helps to translate training activities into improved performance and, ultimately, tangible business outcomes, rather than mere calculation of numbers."

— JUDY FENG, Director, Talent Management, Baxter Asia Pacific

"Those who have criticized ROI will be pleased with Stone’s ROI Quality Analysis (RQA). HR directors and training managers will benefit from implementing this credible technique, and Stone's 'secret sauce ingredients' allow instructional designers to serve up a five-star training program."

— STEPHANIE MOOSHEGIAN, Ph.D., Chair, Saint Louis University's Organizational Studies Program

"Loaded with robust and practical methodologies, templates, and proven tools, The Real Value of Training masterfully demystifies ROI. As a seasoned learning and development practitioner, I can now add a valuable ROI approach that when used with both tangible and intangible results tells a powerful story of how signifi cant learning events contribute to positive business outcomes. Great book!"

— MERIBETH GERMINO, Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy, Biopharmaceutical Industry Leadership Development Executive

"The uniqueness of this book is that it will benefit any leader who wants to transform the organization through training solutions totally focused on alignment with performance through integrating training with individual development and business goals."

— VIDYADHAR S. DABHOLKAR, Head of Human Resource Development, HILTI Manufacturing India Pvt. Ltd.

The financial crisis and ensuing recession permanently changed how business is conducted. Executives and other decision makers, pressured to accomplish higher goals with lower budgets, are demanding greater levels of accountability from their people. And when it comes to investing in business processes, they want quantifiable proof that any new initiative will contribute to solving problems, serving customers, and improving the business.

The Real Value of Training gives you the tools not only to prove that your program will deliver solutions; it goes one step further, so you can explain exactly how much it will deliver. Presented by training ROI expert Ron Stone, The Real Value of Training offers an 11-step process for qualitatively and quantitatively measuring the value of training.

Stone's methodology brings ROI to a new level of scrutiny and credibility by helping you successfully:

  • Collect critical performance data
  • Analyze results and adjust for causal influence and sustained impact
  • Assign a monetary value to business-outcome data
  • Calculate the fully loaded cost of the solution design
  • Calculate the ROI and its level of quality
  • Predict and quantify performance improvement

Using Stone's groundbreaking methods, you will create a training program that is powerful but flexible enough to refocus at a moment's notice, so it remains aligned with the organization’s interests, no matter what happens—whether it's another economic meltdown or a shift in business strategy.

Take your training ROI to a new level of credibility! With The Real Value of Training, you have everything you need to verify that your training solution is directly aligned with business strategy and to determine and communicate its ultimate value to the organization.

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McGraw-Hill Education
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The Real Value of Training

Measuring and Analyzing Business Outcomes and the Quality of ROI


The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Copyright © 2011Ron Drew Stone
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-07-175997-7



Talking about Performance Results

Yes, this book is about measurement and evaluation. The process of measurement and evaluation actually begins up front, when a training professional partners with a client or sponsor to address the performance issues and expectations involved in a specific training solution. Prior to negotiating and designing a learning engagement, the professional and the client or sponsor must agree about the end in mind. When there is a failure to identify the end in mind for a training solution up front, the alignment of the solution with the business is left to chance. It is also difficult to successfully measure and evaluate a training solution whose expected outcome has not been defined.


When they are addressing the needs of workplace performers, training professionals often focus too much of their attention on learning and not enough on performance. Perhaps we should emphasize that the focus on learning is taking place at the wrong time. The time to identify a solution for operating deficiencies or strategic issues is after the performance factors and root cause have been properly identified, not before. Sometimes the client has done this prior to calling the training department, but sometimes she has not.

Training as a Single Solution Is Gone Forever

There was a time when a training solution consisted of a few learning strategies aimed at facilitating the knowledge and skills required to deal with a specific performance need or deficiency. These isolated "training-only" solutions were designed and implemented in the belief and hope that training alone was enough to bring about the desired results. Often, only a limited effort was made to seek reinforcement from management, and only rarely was attention given to such things as companion strategies. Because this procedure was rarely challenged and because evidence of results was rarely required or presented, this became the routine way in which training was delivered in many organizations.

Today, some managers, clients, and others still believe that training can be successfully delivered in this isolated way—no management reinforcement, no companion actions and strategies, no bundled solutions, just a training course by itself, doing its performance thing. Send people to the training room or the desktop, and when they return to the work setting, things will improve. Training professionals today have experienced enough frustration to know that this is not the case. The unfortunate truth is, training as a single solution is gone forever. The performance-centered framework challenges those involved in identifying solutions to think about and analyze all the relevant performance readiness factors beyond learning.

The framework that many training professionals have historically used in evaluating the need for and fit of a training solution is too narrow. Many of them have relied on Kirkpatrick's four levels of evaluation as a performance framework. This limited view places a narrow focus on learning (Kirkpatrick's level 2) as the solution to a performance issue. Many potential performance factors are overlooked when the training is focused only on "knowledge and skills."

When a client or sponsor requests a training or development program, it is natural to launch into a conversation about the learning because that is why the training department has received the call. But training professionals must resist closing the deal on a learning solution before sufficient conversation (and perhaps even a little rapid research) to identify the deficient performance issues and the root cause of those issues has taken place. Only then can expectations be clarified and a proper solution (nonlearning as well as learning) be identified, designed, and delivered.

A Twenty-First-Century Performance-Centered View

The training professional should partner with the client and use a simple performance framework to enable discussion about how a requested training solution will address specific performance needs. A performance framework provides a context that helps to

• Frame the right questions to identify the desired performance, analyze performance deficiencies, and identify the root cause of the problems.

• Identify performance objectives and measures for projects and performance solutions.

• Communicate with clients, team members, training suppliers, and others to negotiate expectations and determine readiness solutions and strategies (learning and nonlearning) aimed at closing the performance gap.

Figure 1.1 illustrates a performance-centered framework that can be used as a tool to facilitate a performance discussion, while at the same time assuring the client that his needs will be met.

The three components of the performance-centered framework (business outcome, execution, and readiness) are linked within a relationship—that is, performance readiness should influence the desired execution, and execution, in turn, should influence the desired business outcome. Without going into how to conduct a needs analysis, which is beyond the scope of this book, let's elaborate on the relationship among these three components. This should help in understanding how to reframe a discussion about learning into a focused discussion about performance. The performance discussion should focus on business outcome and execution and eventually lead back to decisions on designing, delivering, and supporting an appropriate solution. The idea is to move up and down the framework until all relevant questions are answered.

Business Outcome This component refers to how a business or government agency will benefit when the performers involved execute as expected. Business outcomes include improvements in key performance indicators and other business measures that represent the end in mind, such as

• Reducing the cost of doing business

• Improving the profitability of the business (for nonprofits, diversity and sustainability of funding)

• Improving the quality (effectiveness) of the organization's business products, processes, and services

• Increasing the output (quantity) of products and services (sales, products manufactured, products delivered, services provided, orders filled, and so on)

• Reducing the time it takes to complete tasks, complete business processes, and identify and correct problem areas (efficiency)

• Reducing cycle time to close sales or to improve service to the customer

• Sustaining or exceeding the service levels expected by customers

There are additional categories of business outcome measures and many measures within each category, depending on how they are uniquely defined by a particular organization. Business outcomes should be the ultimate goal of any training program, development program, or performance solution.

In a perfect world, when a client requests training, she will identify a specific deficiency in business outcomes as the driving force for the request. However, the world is not perfect. Sometimes the focus is only on the training as an event. This is the worst possible scenario because the training professional must have the skill to move the conversation toward performance, sometimes having to overcome client resistance. Other times, the client may focus on his team's lack of execution in the work setting. This is a good thing because it is often easy to address execution and then move the conversation toward business outcomes and then back to readiness or learning.


Excerpted from The Real Value of Training by RON DREW STONE. Copyright © 2011 by Ron Drew Stone. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Co-author Ron Stone is Vice President and Chief Consulting Officer of Performance Resources Organization, and consults directly on evaluation projects with a broad range of international clients. Stone also conducts public and in-house workshops on the ROI Process.

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