Driving learning program adoption: Start with the right tool (part 1)
Welcome to Part One of a three-part series on the value of driving the adoption of your learning program. We think that there are three keys to success in doing this: 1) the solution 2) the content 3) the learning ecosystem. Today, we'll focus on the first of those -- the solution -- and what's required in an LMS to drive strong adoption of your learning program.
Let's start by going back in time. Some of you will recall a period when e-learning was called CBT (computer-based training), an activity that involved dedicated computers with special software that enabled users to view content played off of a CD. It sounds medieval today, but back then the idea was solid because people worked in an office all of the time, so when their day jobs allowed, they could switch gears for an hour or so to take required training courses. No big deal really, except that maybe they had to go sit in a special training room, where the special computers lived, but again, no big deal because where were they going anyway? Certainly not outside the four walls of the office. It may have even seemed a pleasant break from the usual daily grind.
Now fast forward about 30 years. (Yes, we're going to gloss over those years in between by simply saying that CBT evolved into e-learning, the internet was born, and companies widely began offering some form of e-learning as a standard for training employees whether through a homegrown system or a purchased LMS).
So, here we are in 2017. Sure, LMS technology is ubiquitous in the business world, but learners' needs have never been so different and so unprecedented. Who has an hour to set aside for training on a regular basis? Plus, people aren't tied to the office; many are remote or work from home. Job requirements have never changed faster than they do today. The role a person is hired to do may not be the role they perform even months later. Oh, and the smartphone -- that marvelous little computer that we carry in our pocket, it's our favorite computer, far and away, and if we could do our entire job on it, we would -- happily.
What does all of this have to do with driving adoption of your learning program?
In a word: everything.
To drive adoption in this brave, new world, you need technology that will meet people where they are or maybe we should say "where they aren't" (i.e. chained to a desk). Today's learners expect to be able to get training to-go, training lite, training gamified, etc. Call it what you will, but successful adoption of your program means meeting certain progressive criteria.
To be specific, to drive successful adoption of your training program, your LMS must provide the following seven capabilities at a minimum.
- Easy to implement. The faster it is to implement, the faster your time-to-value. If it's painstaking to get up and running, you're further away from proving the ROI (addressed in #5).
- Easy to administer. Sometimes companies forget that people need to manage the system and that these people are busy. Again, tied to ROI, if you can reduce the time and effort of admins, you're increasing productivity of valuable people.
- Easy to use modern features. There's no excuse for bad UI anymore. The functionality must be super intuitive, easy to search, flexible, and built with mobility, gamification, and learner experience in mind.
- Easy access to engaging content. Not only should admins be able to build different types of courses, with different types of content, in minutes and users should be able to upload content, you should also have quick access to off-the-shelf content that's video-based and interactive.
- Easy proof of ROI. As mentioned above, look for an LMS that can provide rapid time-to-value and continue to generate returns by correlating learning outcomes with organizational goals like productivity and employee retention.
- Easy evidence of data security. No ifs, ands, or buts about this one. Your provider must be able to demonstrate the highest level of data security and privacy. Be sure to ask for details about the data centers and processes for protection.
- Easy customer service and support. This one is at the bottom of the list, but should maybe be at the top. At the end of the day, you need a vendor that's easy to do business with from the initial sale all the way through to your support and service relationship.
You'll notice of course there's a common word among all seven of these requirements. I don't mean to belabor the point by repeating it, but it is critical for all of these things to be easy. If the LMS is difficult or cumbersome to manage or use, adoption becomes a secondary concern. You'll be too busy trying to get basic functionality to work and won't even have time to create programs that drive adoption. Start with the right tool. That's the foundation. From there, we can start to discuss best practices on how to get your learners (and beyond) to not only adopt, but embrace your training programs.
Rather than reinvent the wheel here, I'll point you to this recently recorded webinar we did with Brandon Hall Group for tips on how to drive adoption for better learner outcomes. You'll get insights on how to build perceived value for your training programs by showing how they're easy and beneficial. You know firsthand the time, money, and energy required to create learning experiences that engage learners and improve business outcomes. This will save you the pain of releasing these programs into the wild only to have no one engage with them in a positive way. No one likes to feel that their efforts are wasted and the potential for their programs never realized.
Hopefully that will tide you over until Part Two of this series when we'll focus on content. Until then, keep learning...