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Building a Business Case for Training Investment

Zac Francis
Zac Francis

In a recent webinar, we discussed how to build a business case for training investment, and received valuable insight from Corina Forman, HR Director at APC Overnight, who detailed her experience in securing sign-off from her executive team.

Since partnering with eduMe, APC Overnight has experienced a 20% reduction in workplace injuries year-on-year, and upticks in employee retention, productivity, and engagement.

Keep reading to find out how to build a powerful business case, including proving the dollar value of your training, and to hear APC’s top tips on how to pitch your business case to your boss.

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Common challenges creating a business case for L&D investment

When building a business case, you will almost always encounter challenges along the way. Although not exclusive, here is a list of the more common problems businesses face, with the solutions provided later on.

  • Difficulty proving dollar value
  • Challenges gaining buy-ins from the right teams
  • The risk that comes with change
  • Measuring training impact
  • Framing training as a high-priority

Dollar impact framework

Proving the dollar value of your proposed training investment is the heart and soul of your business case. After all, while profit isn’t the only important aspect of running a business, it is the most important, and also your most compelling argument when facing stakeholders.

However, proving the dollar value of any investment is difficult for any business. There are often so many moving parts that highlighting a tangible cause-and-effect may seem an impossible task. 

Don’t worry, we can help. Alongside our existing customers, we created a Dollar Impact Framework that (hopefully) makes this task a little bit easier.

Step 1: Position your investment as a solution (as opposed to a cost) by identifying the problem it will solve.

Step 2: What business metrics are impacted? What can be used to measure the success of your investment? The best way to do this is to look at what metrics you already measure as a company.

Steps 3 and 4: Understand the cost implications of your investment. For example, a result of your training might result in an increased customer lifetime value, allowing you to place a specific dollar value generated by your training.

Two types of cost implication

There are two types of cost implication that will form a vital part of your business case: Return on investment (ROI) and Cost of inaction (COI). 

Both compare the monetary value of your investment to its cost. However, ROI focuses on maximizing revenue, whereas COI focuses on minimizing operating costs.

We often create bespoke ROI and COI calculators with our clients. Please reach out to our team and we can help you build your own calculator for your business case.

Dollar framework: Applied

Now let's see how the dollar framework works in practice. The example below is from an eduMe customer who turned to eduMe to help solve their onboarding problem.

Alongside the client, we identified three key problems; a slow onboarding process, workers dropping off before completing onboarding, and a decrease in productivity as a direct result of the first two problems.

This helped us come up with three logical business metrics; increasing onboarding activation rate, decreasing time through the funnel, and an increase in the total number of orders. 

As you can see, our cost implications are a mix of ROI and COI, and allow us to accurately measure the dollar impact of the investment.

Components of a great business case

Before we dive in, it should be noted that there’s not one right way to build a business case. Each business consists of unique elements, and each executive team will have a preference for how a business case should look. Additionally, a great business case is one that’s never truly finished, and it’s important to tweak yours as you go along, analyzing what does and doesn’t work within your organization.

However, almost all great business cases will contain the following three components:

Convincing your boss: Key tips from Corina Forman

We’ve provided you with the key components of a powerful business case, and including them in your own proposal will provide you with the foundation needed to succeed. 

What does that look like in practice? We now turn it over to APC’s Corina Forman, who successfully pitched eduMe to her boss. Corina builds on our advice and offers expert insight into what worked for her.

1. Establish a cross-functional stakeholder group from the outset

Putting together a team of experts from different departments is a surefire way to foster creativity, innovation, and engagement while covering any blindspots you and your department might have. 

It turns a departmental initiative into a business initiative, and, as Corina points out, creates greater enthusiasm down the line when the training solution is implemented. 

Stakeholders who were involved from the very beginning will likely feel more passionate about content creation and pushing their own content through eduMe as well.

For us, we had colleagues from the IT department, Operations, Health and Safety, HR all involved from the very early stages of exploring digital solutions.

2. Conduct a comparative analysis of different solutions

When investing in anything, it’s never a good idea to go with the first option. That’s not to say the first option is never the best fit, it’s just that it’s better to analyze the available choices and see if they match up with your business needs and established criteria. The more thorough and informed your business case is, the likelier it is to succeed.

Additionally, analyzing various digital training solutions can provide a greater understanding of your training needs. Corina’s analysis helped her identify a number of key criteria that weren’t initially considered, such as the need for a digital solution that allowed APC to create its own content that aligned with company culture.

Company culture is a key differentiator for us vs our industry. We really wanted a digital solution that allowed us to create our own learning and communications content and disseminate that seamlessly to our workforce.

3. Old vs New

You’re positioning your investment as a solution to a problem, and the reason a problem exists is because what you’re currently doing isn’t working. That may seem obvious, but it’s important to identify the weaknesses of current investments in addition to the strengths of your proposed solution.

For Corina, it was easy to highlight the shortcomings of APC’s previous employee training and position eduMe as the superior investment. 

Their in-house and in-person format was time-consuming and costly, and pulling workers away from their roles had a direct business cost. Moreover, the need to minimize this cost and return workers to their roles limited the scope of training, placing a heavy focus on solely compliance training.

For the same average cost of just 4 hours of face-to-face training in person, we could fund a year of eduMe for every colleague and provide unlimited quantity of training and communications content.

4. Work with a partner who wants to improve

Workplaces and their workforce evolve over time. What’s required from your employees is constantly changing, and training needs to reflect this. Not all training solutions are concerned with tailoring to this truth, Instead, many offer a ‘what you buy is what you get’ product that fails to account for organizational change.

Corina highlights the value of working with a partner who is constantly striving to improve their product. A truly great digital learning solution is one that accounts for the changing roles and growing skillsets of a workplace. For Corina, product flexibility is a must. 

For more insights into Corina’s business case success story, you can watch the full webinar here.

APC Overnight are just one of our many clients who are reaping the benefits of revolutionizing their workforce training by partnering with eduMe. By harnessing the power of mobile learning, we’ve helped companies experience a 66% increase in sales, 10% increase in quality of service, and a 97% reduction in training time.

Get in touch with us now to see how we can help you!