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Return on Investment, ROI, is an important metric across all departments in a company. In Learning & Development, every piece of training we release requires some degree of a financial investment. Many companies want to see evidence that the money they spend on training is worthwhile, meaning they’re receiving a healthy return from the investment. Creating a custom mobile learning app is a great way to boost your training ROI.
Please note this article was originally posted by our team on elearningindustry.com.
The generalized formula for ROI is the return divided by the investment. So, in order to produce a high ROI, you need to create a product that gives a large return with a small investment. Mobile training apps yield a high return because they are easy for learners to access at the time of need. An app is a valuable resource that cannot be lost or forgotten like a training manual or lecture. Learners use the app as a long-term solution, which means it provides a return for months, even years. They are also easy to update, allowing their longevity to be extended without much of an additional investment.
Some training directors focus on the sticker price of training. Rather than getting caught up on price comparison, it’s important to consider the effectiveness of the training and evaluate the actual ROI. Let’s make up some numbers for the sake of example. Say it costs $100 per learner to hold a 2-hour seminar. A week later, they’ve forgotten over half of what they learned. Imagine an app that costs $200 per learner to develop. It allows employees to access a virtual knowledge base at the point of need. They’ll recall the information better because they learned it in a relevant setting. And, they can revisit the material again if necessary. The app ends up being the most cost-effective option because it provides greater long-term value than the seminar.
The comparison above gives a vague approximation of which training strategy produces the best ROI. In some situations, it is possible to calculate the exact percentage of ROI. Picture a fictional manufacturing plant where employees make an item, then pass the item onto an inspector. They tally the number of errors each week and have determined each error costs $50 to correct.
Here are the statistics. The plant averages 50 errors per week. At $50 per error, that’s $2,500 a week, which totals $130,00 per year, that they’re spending in error remediation. They develop a mobile app to train employees on the intricacies of the manufacturing process. It costs $30,000 total to develop and deliver the training. After everyone completes the training and has continual access to the app, the error rate drops to an average of 10 per week. This means they’re only spending $500 a week, which equals $26,000 annually, on error remediation. That’s an annual savings of $104,000!
The formula to calculate a precise ROI is: (Savings – Investment) / Investment = ROI. For our fictional scenario, this is ($104,000 - $30,000) / $30,000. That equals 2.466, or 247%. The manufacturing plant may receive even larger returns if they can continue using the app in future years with a minimal investment in updates.
Training directors who have metrics to calculate the exact ROI of their programs are few and far between. Most job roles simply do not lend themselves to the data used in the manufacturing plant example. Yet, there are still ways to track the effectiveness of training.
One way is to create a short survey for supervisors to answer about their direct reports. It can list a few of the skills addressed in the training. Before releasing the training, have them rank each employee on a scale of 1-10 in terms of their proficiency with that task. Then, after the training, ask them to complete the same survey to see if there’s an increase in proficiency. This data will hopefully allow you to prove the training caused an increase in proficiency by a specific amount or percent. You likely cannot assign a dollar amount to this increase, but you can use the statistics to justify the investment in the training.
Another method is to track customer satisfaction. Poll customers on their experience interacting with an employee at your company, such as a sales associate or customer service representative. Compare the poll results prior to training to those collected after employees received the training app. This is a different perspective that could give more accurate results of employee performance.
A third way you could track values for ROI is to conduct an A/B test. Provide the training app to one group of employees but not another. Compare the performance between the two groups. Ideally, the group who has access to the learning tool will demonstrate better results in the areas the training addresses.
With any of these methods, brainstorm as many ideas as possible for metrics you can track. Maybe it’s the amount of time it takes someone to write a report or the number of times something has to be revised. Your organization may not routinely track metrics like this for your staff, but you could find a way to measure them on a temporary basis to help you calculate the ROI on training ventures.
Regardless of how precisely you’re able to measure your ROI, there are several tactics you can use to maximize your corporate training ROI for a custom mobile learning app.
Narrow the Focus
Keep the mobile app focused around a handful of measurable learning objectives. Eliminating extraneous content will keep the investment lower. Plus, it will make the purpose of the app clear for learners so they know exactly when and why to use it. Trying to cram too much information into one tool often makes an expensive product that’s not very effective.
Streamline Time with SMEs
It’s vital to work with Subject Matter Experts, SMEs, to determine the training content for an app. Keep in mind that the time they invest is technically part of the overall cost of the app. Make the most of your meetings with them so you do not have to tie up too much of their time. You may send a list of questions to them ahead of time so they can come prepared, or ask them to provide you with resources you can review before the meeting to make conversations move quicker.
Develop for the Appropriate Platform
A high-quality app is not cheap to develop. You can increase the ROI by polling learners on the devices they will use to access the app. Decide if it should be targeted for tablets or phones, as well as if Apple or Android devices are more commonly used. Can you imagine how awful it would be if you developed an app that’s sized to use on iPads, then find that your audience isn’t using the app because they don’t carry iPads when they travel and it’s too small to read on their phones? Do your research ahead of time to ensure you’re spending money to develop for the necessary platforms, rather than wasting time and money testing devices that won’t even be used.
Implementing a custom mobile learning app is not the least-expensive training route. Yet, apps yield a high ROI because they are useful tools. If you or your finance department is hesitant, then try using the methods from this article to evaluate the ROI of your current and potential training programs. You’ll find that training employees in any fashion costs money. Ultimately, your goal is to release tools that will create positive behavior change in your company. Consider learner needs, training goals, and ROI when you choose how to present your next training endeavor.
To learn more about how to boost your corporate training ROI with a custom mobile learning app, download our eBook, Developing A Mobile Learning Solution That Embraces Anytime Anywhere Learning, today!