When I started working at my previous employer back in 2011, they didn't have any elearning. With a team of trainers travelling all corners of the globe, there was an understandable push to reduce travel costs.
My remit was to introduce an elearning strategy that would not only provide a cost-saving against classroom training, but that would allow these highly technical trainers to spend less time delivering repeat courses and more time to deliver training in which their expertise would be maximized.
So whilst we were busy implementing a new Learning Management System (you can read a Beginners Guide to Implementing a Learning Management System if you need some guidance on the basics), we also identified some courses that would deliver an immediate cost-saving to the business.
The first course that we identified as a ‘quick-win’ was an accredited product training course.
Product Repair Training
One of the organisations key products was a satellite phone. This provides someone in an area without normal phone reception with a form of reliable communication - such as on top of a mountain or in the middle of the ocean.
The phones are being sold worldwide via a global network of third-party resellers. These resellers are accredited to undertake repairs and adjustments.
The accreditation process involved a 1/2 day practical training session, which would teach partners resellers how to repair the phone correctly and was followed by an exam. This course was delivered by a technical trainer, who would fly out to the partner and deliver the training onsite.
This was clearly an inefficient use of the trainers' time - the training was fairly basic and very repetitive i.e. the same training was delivered with little variation each time.
And despite attempting to group local partners together in order to deliver the course to a larger audience, thus reducing the number of training courses required, this would often prove unsuccessful.
So each time the training needed to be delivered, it would mean a round-the-world trip for the trainer which had not only a cost implication, but restricted the trainers' schedule from delivering higher value training.
Our solution was to build an elearning course using Articulate Storyline that would be hosted on our LMS. The course consisted of an introduction, followed by a series of demonstration videos that we recorded ourselves, which teaches the learner how to repair the phone.
We embedded the videos into the Storyline course and used the same exam to ensure that learners correctly understood what they had learnt during the training.
We then set up the course within the LMS to generate a certificate of completion, with a report that was sent directly to the Training Manager once the course had been completed. You can see the finished elearning course by clicking here.
The course was tested on a sample group of partners who required the training, and then launched globally after a successful pilot. After having ironed out a few bugs and glitches, and adjusted the course based on feedback from the pilot group, the course was launched and immediately removed this course from the trainer’s list of responsibilities.
We were left with happy customers, very happy trainers and a Training Manager with budget to spare!
Doing the Math
The organisation had been running this classroom training at least 10 times per year, sometimes more. Each session was costing the company around £5,000 (travel, salary, admin etc.) so a realistic cost for this training per year could be estimated to be £50,000.
The elearning course took less than a month to build at a cost of less than £5,000 (one instructional designer for a month armed with a copy of Storyline, the SME for 2 days of filming and an HD video camera).
Ironically, the cost to create this elearning course turned out to be the same as flying a trainer to the other side of the world to deliver the course once!
So from looking at the calculations spread over the year, we can see that the cost saving is immense.
What about the Learning Management System?
Now you would be correct if you noticed that these calculations don’t take into account the cost of the LMS. And if you were only delivering one course via your LMS, then this would be a significant investment.
However, most cloud-based LMS have a simple pricing structure that means once you are delivering several courses, economies of scale kick-in and deliveringonline training becomes the most efficient way to deliver training. (One of my favourite features of Litmos is the pricing system where you only pay for active learners).
Keeping the Course Updated
This course was built in 2011 and when a new version of the product was launched in 2014, the training was updated to reflect the changes. Because the overall structure of the course remained identical, it was simply a case of recording new videos and swapping them in the elearning course. Easy!
In addition to this, the accreditation was set to expire after 12 months, which meant that repeat training had to be undertaken annually to ensure the resellers maintained their accredited status - there is an ongoing cost saving here too! No more follow-up training sessions required!
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand the cost-savings that elearning provides. (And I did work with a few rocket scientists at that company!)
But it is often difficult to demonstrate the saving. And fortunately this was one example that made the calculation very obvious.
If you’re interested in replacing a classroom training course with a custom elearning course please click here. If you enjoyed reading this post, you may also enjoy my article on 5 Questions to Ask Yourself before Finding Someone to build your eLearning Course.
There is a fantastic article discusses how Cisco, world leader in networking hardware, switched from classroom training to a web-based solution for its 28,000 sales representatives and cut overall training costs by 40-60%.
Another great article which explains how elearning can save you money whilst developing a franchised business model is How to Grow Your Franchise and Save Money By Taking Training Online.