Measure the Real Impact of Learning in SumTotal Advanced Reporting

May 06, 2019

learning impact measurement

Are you getting what you need from SumTotal advanced reporting 

If you say no, you are not alone. Nearly everyone we talk with about SumTotal Advanced Reporting tells us they are not getting what they need from it. It is difficult for them to find a solution that won’t break the budget. 

Three primary factors driving the disconnect are the approach, a lack of skills, and a lack of prioritization during implementation. 

First, most organizations are seeking answers when they should start with the right questions. 

Ask the Right Questions 

Ninety percent of respondents in towards maturities Learning Health Check do not realize the value of their technology investments, yet they are planning to spend more  without knowing why. 

When you dig deeper into the results, you find that the top 10% of organizations in Towards Maturity’s  benchmark studies have a different approach. They operate a “learner consumer-centric model aligned with critical business capability priorities.” i 

Will Thalheimer explains that instead of reporting the same old registration, attendance, and completion rates that tell us nothing about the quality of learning, we need to evaluate learning in a way that enables us to do something different. He offers a set of questions to help change your thinking: 

  • Are we teaching the right things (aligned with critical business needs)? 
  • Are we using the right method? 
  • Is what we are doing effective? 
  • Can learners perform? 
  • Are they accomplishing what they need to do?ii 

You Have the Tools, but Can You Use Them? 

SumTotal and SumTotal Advanced Reporting can answer Thalheimer’s questions if you have the skills to capture and analyze the data. Many L&D organizations don’t have the data analysis, statistics, and research  method skillsiii to create the data points, custom queries, and visualizations needed to make it happen. 

If that describes your organization, where will the skills come from? 

Getting the budget to hire advanced skills is difficult when you haven’t proved your concept. You need the skills to develop the proof. 

You could develop your staff, but that will take a long time. 

Or, you could rent the skills by the hour as you build your capability. There are hundreds of analytics consulting companies and freelance data analysts, data engineers, and data scientists available today. Rates can be well within your discretionary budget. 

Low Priority for Reporting and Analytics 

During implementation, the aim is often to complete the project on time and under budget. Most organizations don’t budget for building out their reporting libraries and analytics functions. They want to get things working so they can deliver learning. 

But then, the pressure is on to show its value. ROI calculations don’t help. What CEOs want to see is that their learning spend is producing results in company performance. They want to know the impact of learning on talent and performance. 

Impact analytics won’t happen as an afterthought. The standard learning metrics we’ve used for 30 years won’t suffice. We need to take that extra step and begin with the end in mind. 

How to Get Started 

We recommend these steps to get you started in creating reports in SumTotal advanced reporting that will change the way your organization thinks about learning: 

  • Think big but start small. Don’t fix everything — work on a simple, solvable problem to prove your concept and capability. 
  • Work with your business leadership and line management to identify a critical business learning need. You won’t find the right question working in isolation. Target your questions toward what operational managers care about. 
  • Contract with an analytics team that will work with your staff. We recommend working with a firm that has substantial experience in SumTotal Advanced Reporting and analytics. 
  • Work with your analytics team to develop your hypotheses and method. 
  • Determine what data you will need and decide how you will gather it. 
  • Use your L&D team, guided by your analytics experts, to collect, analyze, and present the data to engage your decision-makers. 

We hope you will give some thought to overcoming these three barriers and getting started on your path to measuring impact. Let’s start measuring what matters. 

Pixentia is a full-service technology company dedicated to helping clients solve business problems, improve the capability of their people, and achieve better results. 

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