How to Build a Business Case for Learning Analytics [GUIDE]

Many of the people who subscribe to our Insights blog have caught the vision for learning analytics and understand the value for a learning analytics platform (LAP). Well-organized and clearly presented data gives you insights into the learning that enable you to make informed decisions that have the biggest impact.

But for most organizations, a learning analytics platform is a new system. And while you may be sold on the vision, you need a little help taking the rest of the organization with you. You need a business plan that clearly sets out why you need an LAP and how the benefits will outweigh the costs. We’ve designed this blog series to help you do just that, so let’s get started!

What is a learning analytics business case, and why do I need one?

In this year’s annual Measuring the Business Impact of Learning survey we hold in conjunction with LEO Learning, we noticed a significant disparity between organizations that have a budget for learning analytics and those that don’t.

The latest Measuring the Business Impact of Learning report is now live! This year we have an added focus on L&D's budget and capabilities that offer some fascinating insights. For the latest trends, analysis, success stories, and tips to move you on your journey, check out this year's report.

Those with budget set aside for learning analytics are more likely to:

  • have a team in place for learning analytics;
  • have pressure and support of senior leaders to measure;
  • believe in the impact of learning measurement; and
  • have doubled down on measurement during the pandemic, rather than deprioritizing it.

This is because organizations with a budget for learning analytics have seen the benefits firsthand. But how can you get a budget for learning analytics in the first place?

Here’s the answer: You need a business case to convince budget holders to set aside that budget. A good business case clearly sets out how that investment will benefit the business. It’s more than a wishlist or “wouldn’t it be nice if.” Instead, it walks the audience through exactly why spending this money is a better business decision than not doing so. It’s about making the budget holder a proposal they can’t refuse.

Choosing from the Learning Analytics Menu

Think of building a business case for learning analytics as a bit like selecting a meal at a restaurant. There are many great offerings—some of which come recommended by other organizations whose case studies you’ve read—but you can’t choose them all in one sitting. So you make a selection from the options available (which we’ll cover in this series).

And like a menu, where different dishes are best suited for different stages of the meal, some use cases are going to be better at different stages of your learning analytics implementation:

Quick-Win Appetizers

Showing value and return on investment early on helps gain stakeholder buy-in and keeps momentum for your learning analytics implementation. Identify one or two use cases for learning analytics where you’ll likely see quick initial results.

For example, perhaps there’s a manager in your organization who regularly asks for up to date completion data for their people. Automating that with a learning analytics platform could be a relatively straightforward project that both saves you time and gives the manager easy access to the data they need.

Main Use Case

Alongside your quick-win appetizers, it’s important to have a longer-term goal that’s your main use case. This is the one thing that’s most valuable to the business—which you’ll take to stakeholders as the key business driver for investing in learning analytics.

For example, your business might want to provide more relevant on-demand content to learners to shift from a push to a pull learning culture—providing relevant content to learners at their moment of need. Implementing search analytics to get a better understanding of what people want to learn and using that data to improve your learning provision could be your main use case in that scenario.

Aspirational Desserts

After your main use case, there may be other applications of learning analytics that could benefit your organization. But don’t bite off more than you can chew. Make a note of these to see if you’ve got capacity after you’ve finished with your main use case.

For example, if your main use case focuses on utilization of learning content, you might consider measuring business impact as a longer-term goal.

Suggested Sides

Alongside your main use case, there may be other use cases that are perhaps only relevant to part of the organization or might be run by a separate group. These are your side business cases, which you can run in tandem with your main business case so long as you keep your focus on the main point.

For example, your sales enablement team might have an interesting learning analytics use case to support their sales training that’s valuable to them, but not relevant to the rest of the organization.

As you build your business case, we recommend keeping your goals focused. Choose one main business case, plus one or two quick wins to start. Note future aspirations and any potential side projects, but take care not to let them distract you. Otherwise you risk ending up with too much on your plate and not being able to finish your main project.

Which learning analytics use case is relevant to me?

Bearing this advice in mind, this blog series will present you with a broad menu of use cases for a learning analytics platform so you can choose the ones that best fit your needs. Just to whet your appetite, here’s a taste of what’s coming up and the use cases we will cover:

Next Course: Making the Business Case for Learner Analytics

The next post will dive right into learner analytics and explain how to build a business case for reporting on your learners using a learning analytics platform. We’ll explore the value of not only having all your learner data in one place but also presenting it to managers and other non-data, non-learning people in clear, visual dashboards. We’ll even throw in some tips on how to convince skeptical stakeholders.

This blog series will be delivered straight to your inbox, so subscribe using the form above and never miss a post. We’re sure you’re going to find our offerings helpful and delicious!

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