As an officer of the company, the CLO must understand all aspects of the business, what success looks like in every function, and make sure learning programs are aligned to driving success. The days of managing course catalogs are gone.
Even if it’s not in the CLO’s job description, we’re responsible for some part of our company’s strategic workforce planning: knowing where the business is going and the human capital needs to get there.
We must hold ourselves to ever-higher standards when it comes to business fluency. We need it to earn the respect of our revenue-generating peers, and we need it to fully do our jobs.
Reading business books and periodicals is critical. And if you read any type of business publication you know Big Data is the next big thing.
Luckily, CLOs can also take advantage of Big Data to address all of these issues:
>> Better understand business challenges and skills gaps in order to develop the right learning solutions;
>> Prove you’re impacting the business with solid results; and
>> Become a strategic advisor with intelligent, insightful analytics.
DATA MAKES IT POSSIBLE
The CLO — the learning and development partner to the business — needs to embrace using Big Data to be most effective. First, document the goals and objectives of each organization, working down from the top to ensure goal alignment throughout. Then, dig down to individual business functions and their performance metrics.
For instance, your “client” in the Sales Department may be trying to increase deal size and win rate, and have baseline measures and specific goals. Break those goals down into the competencies, behaviors and actions that drive their achievement. Then establish learning programs to specifically target those metrics, breaking them down goal-by-goal.
Remember to show what skills, activities and behaviors the employees were doing before and after, so you can point to how they’ve improved because of the learning or enablement interventions you drove. Here is where Big Data is so exciting. By triangulating data sources, you can chart out the impact of your programs.
HOW IT’S DONE
Cloud Talent Success was formed early in 2012, and we’ve seen fantastic results thus far. Having a structured approach to present to the department was critical, especially given the rocket-fueled growth and market expectations our corporation was experiencing.
Measurement is foundational to all aspects of what we do and covers the full learning and enablement lifecycle. These aspects include:
1) Learning Inventory – To determine how to build formal, informal and social learning, we analyze performance using CRM and other data to identify skills gaps and success drivers.
2) Learning Program Design – We first define business, process and learning metrics for each sales stage, then translate these into KPIs and core competencies around which we design courses.
3) Learning Schedule – Regularly tracking sales rep performance on key metrics, we can identify strengths/weaknesses and suggest individualized learning and mentoring intervention.
4) Learning Evaluation – Every program has one or more objectives — like prospecting or closing — around which we build custom metrics. Before-and-after course surveys measure self-reported confidence (versus knowledge assessment) and actual execution against goals.
5) Business Impact – Very simply, we measure pipeline performance (opportunities created and won, average deal size and sales cycle, conversion ratio) before and after learning. This includes quarterly tracking of overall sales performance versus goals and the market.
This approach enables us to systematically plan, design, execute and evaluate the effectiveness of our sales rep training, measuring against real business numbers.
Data analysis is truly the key, because Big Data without powerful analysis is just simple math with lots of numbers. Here’s how we approached it.
STEP 1: Driver Analysis – A critical first step was analyzing success drivers. We drew data from four sources to study their influence on sales attainment:
• Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system: From this data, we identified more than 110 variables, like average deal size, win ratio, sales cycle length.
• Learning Management System (LMS): Courses taken, self-evaluations, timing of training and more.
• Performance Management System: Manager ratings, goal setting, performance reviews, learning plans and more.
• Employee Records: Hire date, manager, sales experience, prior domain experience and more.
We then used advanced statistical techniques, including univariate analysis, regression modeling and structured equation modeling to determine key influencers of performance and quantify their impact. Lastly, we converted these influencers into KPIs and set targets.
STEP 2: Business Impact Analysis - Here we merged three data sources, CRM, LMS and the Commissions file (which tracks attainment versus quota for each sales person), then analyzed before-and-after performance impact.
• CRM: To track pipeline, deal size, win rate, sales and more
• LMS: Which courses were taken and when, in addition to hire date, manager and more
• Commissions file: Tracks attainment versus quota for each sales person
Quite honestly, it was a simple download to Excel from each source followed by a data merge. For example, to measure training’s impact on pipeline, we tracked performance for a certain period of time before and after a key sales course completion, isolating the impact of seasonality (for example, Q4 usually being the busiest quarter).
—This article written by Jenny Dearborn, MED, MBA, is chief learning officer and vice president of Cloud Talent Success, SuccessFactors and SAP’s Cloud Business. The rest of the article can be read in the August/September issue of “Elearning!” magazine.