by Mohana Radhakrishnan
The phrase "learning operations" is anything but exciting. In fact, it encompasses much of the mundane, day-to-day ìstuffî that your audiences take for granted. Thatís why your CEO isnít likely to talk about this part of your job at your next meeting.
But the fact is that learning operations ñ the people, tasks, processes, and technologies that actually make corporate learning possible ñ represent the biggest slice of most training budgets. And they also are frequently the source of much frustration and worry for learning executives.
An even bigger problem is that inefficient learning operations often hold organizations back ñ rather than paving the way to strategic, next-generation initiatives.
Take learning management systems, for example.
Most major systems were designed over 10 years ago and werenít built to handle multiple learning portals for distinctly different learning audiences. Nor were they designed for learning on-demand, podcasts, learning communities, and other components of todayís learning environment. Learning organizations spend too much time, personnel, and budget trying to determine how to work around such constraints. In such cases, technology becomes an obstacle, not an advantage.
Some operational problems are invisible.
For instance, while working on a technology integration project for a client, an Expertus project manager noticed that several key administration processes involved a large amount of extraneous tasks and steps. Since these processes had been in place for years, no one was questioning their validity or efficiency. By making several changes, the CLO was able to redirect staff resources (approximately $250,000 per year in salaries) to higher-profile, more strategic work.
In other cases.
A learning executive might know he or she has a problem, but canít pinpoint it. Expertus helped one company improve the effectiveness of channel training programs by providing reports that showed class registrations and cancellations by specific geographic region. With this intelligence, the program manager quickly pinpointed where to target promotional activities, better managed cancellations, and reached out to specific sales managers to enlist support. Previously, the learning executive could only guess at problems since reports showed only registrations and cancellations.
While most attention inevitably goes to ìwhatís newî and ìwhatís strategic,î you canít afford to ignore the operational engine behind your learning initiatives. Unless itís running smoothly, even the best learning initiatives can stall.
If you have questions about best-practice learning operations or if you have a good example of some operations done well, contact us.