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Educating the Educators: The Business Benefits of Training

Posted by Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin

Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin is editor-in-chief for PM Solutions Research, and the author, co-author and editor of over twenty books on project management, including the 2007 PMI Literature Award winner, The AMA Handbook of Project Management, Second Edition.

The 2018 Training Industry Survey, just released this week, shows that US companies pulled back 6.4% from their $90-billion-plus 2017 training spending. That's a lot of money! Yet there did not seem to be much analysis of why companies retreated from training investment in the report's summary.

I'm giong to go out on a limb and say that's because most training functions have not formed a clear rationale for their organizations as to why training is essential to the business.So when their budgets are cut, they don't have a compelling argument against the cuts.

Actually, it's not that much of a limb, because for over a decade, PM College has been working to help the folks who are responsible for training in their organizations develop ways to link their training investment to measurable improvements in business outcomes.It hasn't been an easy task, because there's a gap or a blind spot for many training executives in this area. I have interviewed many representatives of training functions in global organizations about this gap between measuring the training itself (how many participants, how many classes, satisfaction levels, scores or grades, even 360-degree indicators of application on the job) and measuring the impact the training has had on key performance indicators like financial performance, customer satisfaction, time to market and the like.

I recently had the opportunity to pull some data out of our 2017 Strategy Execution Process Benchmark study, that showed the performance of educational institutions specifically. There are perhaps some conclusions you can draw about the gap in strategic business thinking among providers of education. For example, "education industy" participants in the study performed poorly on the "success rate of enterprise in measuring the performance of its strategy" (2.7 on a 5-point scale, where 5 is "very successful"). In addition, only 21% of them engage in benefits realization management processes ... compared with 60% of the high performing organizations in the study.

The drop in US investment in training is troubling, especially in these times with the workplace and technology changing rapidly. I am easily convinced that training is a valuable thing in any circumstance ... but your CEO may not be. Frame a cogent business argument for the service you deliver and fight back against the erosion in training!

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