The question that companies must ask themselves is “What is my core business?” For most companies, the answer is not learning services. Yet, learning is an essential component of any company’s success in recruiting, growing and maintaining their best talent. Learning can support employees at crucial times—in the moments that matter, which can determine how successful employees will be from an engagement, productivity and overall wellness perspective.
To ensure key information and learning is available at the time of need, learning organizations must dive deep into these moments and design solutions that leverage a wide variety of skill sets and technologies. However, with the advancements of learning models and their associated technologies, not every organization has the internal resources or skills to analyze, design, build and implement today’s modern learning solutions. In fact, most are realizing they need to design, build and organize differently.
“....to deliver this growth, organizations will need to make sure they have the right talent with the right skills.... The 40 percent (of CEOs) who are putting more emphasis on people investments are a notable increase from 33 percent in 2020.”
CEOs see the value of a high performing learning organization
According to the KPMG 2021 CEO Outlook, high-performing organizations are those that can flex their technology muscles and their ability to upskill their people. This depends on having a motivated and highly skilled digital workforce that operates with speed and agility. Specifically, CEOs should invest in digital skills as well as technology modernization. This isn’t simply so that their people can use these new tools, but to help foster a digital-first culture where people naturally look to integrate technology into their work.
With CEOs continuing to put an emphasis on leading with purpose and a focus on digitally transforming their organizations while upskilling an agile workforce in the new world of work, training organizations should look to leverage external partnerships to support learning services to meet the expectations of high-performing organizations and provide a competitive advantage.
Notably, high-performing training organizations are also more likely to use external learning services than less developed training organizations according to Training Industry research1. A training partner, or learning-as-a-service (LaaS) provider, can serve as an extension of the company’s learning organization to help manage and deliver learning capabilities. Let’s examine how an LaaS model can optimize learning for the business, delivering high-quality learning services and a robust learning experience to employees.
The Learning-as-a-Service Model
Using managed learning services, or an LaaS model, can provide organizations with external capabilities to design and develop learning content, administer and manage activities related to their learning management system (LMS), support company employees through a dedicated learning help desk, and provide instructor delivery and vendor management — whether it’s one discrete service or the entire end-to-end set of services.
So, what makes an LaaS model valuable to companies that transition their in-house learning capabilities? Organizations can:
- Focus more on core business results
- Realign resources to be more strategic and business focused
- Reduce overall learning costs
- Improve learning quality and delivery
- Improve learner engagement and upskilling
- Implement a flexible resource model that supports peaks and valleys when company assets are added or divested
- Optimize and standardize the operating model, processes and technology
- Implement service-level agreements to ensure quality and delivery requirements
- Gain access to industry benchmarking, thought leadership and innovative learning technology
- Accelerate the speed of learning.
The role of learning governance
To ensure success, setting up a strong learning governance model that incorporates communication and change management is an important step in the LaaS model. Doing so builds trust and a partnership between the company’s leadership and the training provider. It also ensures training programs are aligned with company goals and objectives and intended business outcomes.
Then, by identifying senior leaders to champion learning initiatives, individuals can promote the importance and value of learning to employees, improving the overall success of a training initiative to ensure the company’s leadership and employees are fully invested in the success of the LaaS model.
Having a learning governance model will also provide the structure and support needed to form a successful training partnership that meets expectations. Regularly meeting with senior executives and training sponsors, or establishing a formal governance committee, can streamline decision-making and keep training plans on schedule and budget.
A good way to tell if the relationship and partnership between a training provider and the company leadership is strong is using the net promoter score (NPS) survey. The NPS results can indicate how well training provider services have been embedded into the organizational culture, the effectiveness of the training itself, and the relationship between the company’s leadership and training provider delivery team.
Collecting the right data
Learning data is mutually beneficial to the organization and the training provider in scoping and validating the learning services to be implemented. To deliver and implement managed learning services, training providers must collect the right data. The data typically collected from the company’s training organization includes learning administration transactional volumes, help desk volumes related to learning issues, content design and development volumes, current number of employees providing internal learning services, financial metrics, number of classes and instructors, as well as other data points depending on the services to be implemented.
The training provider will generally have a standard set of data collection accelerators that the company’s learning organization can use to collect the data needed. The data collected typically covers both historical data over the past year or two along with any current data. The training provider analyzes this data to scope and validate the services to be delivered. Depending on the financial data provided, the training provider will build a business case showing the overall benefits and cost savings to be achieved over the term of the contract. During delivery of services by the training provider, additional data is collected and reported as part of the service levels to ensure the company is receiving the expected outcomes that were contracted.
Partnering for success: A “better together” approach
Organizations must find a training provider that they trust to ensure the success of the LaaS model. Learning leaders must consider a variety of factors when searching for the right partner, including the training company’s delivery locations and global reach, the provider’s knowledge and experience to deliver the needed services, and assessing whether the training company aligns with the culture and values of their organization. These factors can help learning leaders find a partner that meets their unique needs, leading to a strong and beneficial relationship that ensures long-term success of the LaaS model.
This type of relationship can set organizations apart in the market, allowing companies to effectively deliver the training they need to move their organizations forward—from a resource they trust.
1 What makes a training organization great, Training Industry, Summary 2008–2018