You love your learning platform, but you wish the built-in reporting offered more. You need better detail and different visualizations, and managers are asking for breakdowns of department-specific data. But the platform’s reporting just doesn’t do that, and you lack the capacity or experience (or both) to crunch the data yourself. This post makes the business case for enhanced platform reporting and explores how using Watershed is worthwhile—even if you’re initially reporting on one data source.
If you’re new to our Building a Business Case for Learning Analytics blog series, be sure to check out the introduction—which provides an overview and tips for making the most of this series.
What Is Enhanced Platform Reporting for L&D?
Often, learning platforms capture the key metrics in their system and provide a fixed view into them via built-in platform reports. Enhanced platform reporting is when you bring that same data into a learning analytics platform (like Watershed), you gain enormous flexibility and depth to those same metrics.
That's because you can filter, measure, and group data by a wider variety of data points—such as learner, activity, time, job role, location, and more. It's like taking a 2D picture and turning it into a 3D model.
But even when a platform has relatively good reporting, there are valid reasons for using a learning analytics platform for reporting. In fact, CLO’s Adopting Learning Analytics survey found that 59% of organizations use built-in reports for learning analytics. However, 50% of those organizations plan to change the technology they use for learning analytics—with many (60%) including a learning analytics platform in those plans.
What Does Enhanced L&D Reporting Look Like in Practice?
As a learning analytics platform vendor, of course we’re going to say that our reporting gives you more than what’s built into learning platforms themselves. But don’t just take our word for it.
Even platform vendors like Degreed, a leading LXP, will tell you that our reporting goes beyond their offerings. While they focus on delivering the best possible learning experiences, we focus on giving your users the L&D reporting they need.
For example, Degreed’s in-app reporting offers an efficient view into pathways, skills, and utilization based on completions. But send the data to Watershed via Degreed’s xAPI implementation, and suddenly you can do so much more, including:
- Report on more granular learner activities, such as likes and shares.
- Compare Degreed usage by organizational units.
- Map workplace skills across the organization.
- Filter to show individual learner or team transcripts.
The in-app reporting is beneficial, but using Degreed’s xAPI data in Watershed takes L&D reporting to the next level.
Another example is the digital credentialing solution, Credly. Credly has built-in analytics that shows how credentials are earned and shared. For instance, you can use Watershed to report on Credly data broken down by organizational units. This option enables managers only to see data specific to their people and respective credentials.
In some cases, clients implement Watershed for reporting when an existing platform doesn’t have built-in reporting. Other times, clients launch a new platform and Watershed at simultaneously, which means they get L&D reporting from day one. For example, The Behr Paint Company delivers learning content via an internally developed mobile app that doesn’t have reporting capability. As a result, the app sends data to Watershed for reporting.
In other instances, clients use Watershed for additional reporting beyond what’s available in an application. For instance, Caterpillar uses Watershed to analyze the utilization of videos hosted on Kaltura MediaSpace. In this case, Kaltura is one of many platforms in Caterpillar’s learning ecosystem. As a result, Caterpillar uses Watershed to analyze each platform-specific dashboard as well as aggregate and analyze L&D data from all their learning platforms on one central dashboard.
Why Should I Use Watershed's Enhanced Reporting Instead of My Learning Platform's Built-In Reports?
A lot of learning platforms have built-in reporting capabilities. However, sometimes this functionality is missing or simply isn't very good—in which case the argument for enhanced platform reporting is unmistakable.
Watershed’s enhanced reporting covers nearly any area in your learning ecosystem by connecting data sources and merging them with HR data—enabling you to discover actionable insights in configurable, easy-to-use dashboards.
Here are some of the reasons why organizations may consider learning analytics platforms to provide what their built-in reports can’t:
- Reports don’t meet your requirements. Built-in reports might be helpful, but they don’t always give you exactly what you need. On the other hand, Watershed’s configurable reports and dashboards empower you to design L&D reporting tailored to your specific needs.
- You need more detail. Built-in reports often cover high-level metrics, but they don’t offer the capability to drill down into the details. With Watershed, you can import all the data and configure reports providing the level of granularity you need.
- You need to see the data by organizational unit. Built-in reports provide an organization-wide view, but what if you need to show the data for a single department or compare one department with another? Watershed combines your learning data with your organizational hierarchy structure so you can filter and compare organizational units. You can also permission-restrict report data—so you only need to configure the report once, but each manager only sees the data specific to their respective teams.
- You want all your reports in one place. If you’re reporting on multiple systems, having to log into each of them is time consuming. By combining all your data in Watershed, you can report on all your platforms side by side in one place.
You might remember the following dashboard from the previous post on vendor management. Having all your reports in one place makes looking at them more manageable. And you can also combine data from multiple platforms in a single report.
How Does Watershed Facilitate Enhanced Platform Reporting?
Our clients use Watershed for enhanced platform reporting when they have a reporting or analytics need they can't fulfill with an application's built-in reports. The business case for Watershed, then, is based on the business's reason for needing those reports and analytics. There could be many reasons why the organization needs enhanced platform reporting:
- Permission-restricted reporting for data protection. Managers may need to check someone's learning completion on the platform to ensure people have fulfilled compliance requirements. But data protection regulations, however, may mean restricting data access to the relevant individuals. The platform's built-in reports might not have that level of data permissions functionality, but Watershed does.
- Stakeholders require a particular format. Senior leaders or regulators may require the data in a specific format not supported by the built-in reporting. However, bringing the data into Watershed gives you control over how those stakeholders view the data.
- You need a piece of detail not available in built-in reports. You may be required to report on a metric that’s not available without enhanced reporting. For example, you may need to look at how learners engage with content beyond simple completion tracking to inform further training.
- You want to save time looking at multiple platforms. Checking multiple platforms for reports can be time consuming. Having them all in one place is more efficient for the business.
How Can You Convince Stakeholders of Watershed’s Value?
When it comes to showing stakeholders Watershed’s value—in particular, its enhanced platform reporting—remember to cover:
- The reasons why you need enhanced platform reporting. Outline your reporting requirements and explain why existing built-in reports cannot fulfill these requirements.
- Why Watershed is the best way to address your reporting requirements alongside or instead of the built-in reports. This scenario often comes down to a build-versus-buy decision. Specifically, buying Watershed usually is more cost-effective than developing an in-house solution due to our:
- years of experience in learning analytics,
- platform’s focus on reporting instead of facilitating learning, and
- our economies of scale from serving many clients instead of just one.
Understand your stakeholders and how they will benefit from enhanced platform reporting.
Understand your stakeholders and how they will benefit from enhanced platform reporting.
|Learning Leaders||A particular learning platform does not offer the needed reporting functionality.||Enhanced platform reporting can address reporting requirements not covered by built-in reports.|
|Instructional Designers||A learning platform’s reports may lack essential details, so instructional designers can’t properly evaluate content for improvement.||Enhanced platform reporting can give instructional designers access to more granular reporting.|
|Compliance||A learning platform may not offer sufficient reporting for compliance purposes.||Use enhanced platform reporting to meet compliance requirements for reporting.|
|Line Managers||A learning platform may not offer an option to filter reporting by individual teams.||Enhanced platform reporting can give managers access to reports about their team.|
|Learners||A learning platform may not offer reporting for individual learners.||Use enhanced platform reporting to give learners access to their data.|
Next Course: The Business Case for Measuring the Impact of Learning
We've outlined several business cases around the benefits of learning content analytics, including enhanced platform reporting, that primarily focus on content utilization. This is an important area of learning analytics because if learners are not using content, they are certainly not learning from it.
But utilization is a low bar. People can complete content without learning from it; learn about a topic without developing and applying the skills; or even successfully apply the skills in their work, but still be unsuccessful in achieving business KPIs or goals.
Measuring learning’s impact involves examining the complete chain of performance improvement—from interacting with learning content to achieving business aims. The next post in this series will explore the business case for measuring the impact of your L&D programs, including its importance and benefits as well as the cost of ignoring impact when creating and curating learning.
About the author
As one of the authors of xAPI, Andrew Downes has years of expertise in data-driven learning design. With a background in instructional design and development, he’s well versed in creating learning experiences and platforms in corporate and academic environments.
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