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How To Overcome A Small Budget For Training

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As the needs of modern workers and their environments change, the way we train them needs to evolve as well. But when you have a limited budget, investing in training initiatives can be a challenge.

Small organizations have business needs that are as complex as large organizations. Employee engagement, productivity, sales growth, succession planning… It feels like the list is ever-growing. That’s why training should be a top priority for organizations of any size.

Small HR teams often don’t have the time, budget, or leadership buy-in needed to purchase high-quality learning solutions. But with the right amount of planning, they can create successful training programs.

In this guide, we’ll lead you through a few steps that will make finding the right system a little bit easier.

Step One: Evaluate Current Business Challenges

What business need are you trying to meet? What skill gaps are you trying to fill? Ask yourself these questions before you start looking for a new training provider.

Recent market research has shown that many organizations are unhappy with their current LMS solution. If you don’t understand your business needs, you could end up buying a solution that will never make you or your employees happy.

But where do you start? Here are some of the most common challenges that lead organizations to buy (or upgrade to) an online training solution:

Dispersed Workforce

Having employees in many locations used to be an issue faced only by larger businesses. Today, online connectivity allows organizations of every size to have remote employees.

The same opportunities create challenges for employee training and development efforts. To keep up with today’s digital workforce, replacing classroom training sessions has become a priority for many HR teams.

With an LMS, you can upload and manage video and audio files, PowerPoint presentations, PDFs, documents, spreadsheets and much more. And online training allows employees to take training courses anytime, anywhere.

A dispersed workforce is no longer an obstacle for providing employee development opportunities.

Tracking & Reporting Activities

As the workplace shifts toward a digital culture, HR operations needs to keep up.

Many employers face compliance requirements from local, state, and federal agencies. These can include anything from health and safety training, to anti-harassment and discrimination.

To prove compliance with regulations, the ability to track and report on training activities is critical.

Additionally, you might need to keep track of onboarding training for new employees or provide certification tracking for those with professional licenses.

Record-keeping and tracking training content today is much easier. Modern learning management systems allow you to:

  • Create and manage individual training plans for specific job roles, departments, new managers or new hires.
  • Upload and manage internal or external links and make them available to learners. Use them in individual assignments or custom libraries.
  • Communicate, track, and manage offline activities through Webex and GoToMeeting integrations.
  • Keep track of assigned courses, certification credits, and more.

No Time For Training

HR teams of limited size usually have competing demands and priorities, including payroll, employee relations, benefits administration, HR administration, and… well, you name it! So training and development tends to get pushed to the bottom of the pile.

One of the biggest obstacles in traditional classroom training is the time it takes to deliver the content.

Online delivery is faster, better, more valuable, and less disruptive.

Trainers can assign training, set up email reminders, and review status reports. All these tasks take less than an hour, making online training a quick and easy alternative to classroom training.

As for the employees, none of them have to leave their desks to go sit in a two-hour classroom session!

Step Two: Discuss Cost & Benefits

When investing in learning technology, focus on the benefits instead of how much the solution will cost.

Dean Pichee, founder and CEO of BizLibrary, suggests a benefits-focused approach: “When making your business case to leadership, you need to think in terms of how the solution is going to improve employees’ ability to do their job, and ultimately how it will impact the bottom line.”

Below are some of the benefits you can focus on:

Step Three: Involve Key Players

Do you know who your decision-makers are? Sometimes this question seems so obvious it gets overlooked.

As you analyze business challenges, make sure you understand how the solution will impact others.

The training initiatives you put in place will affect different groups of employees. Who are they, and what will their concerns and objectives be? Here are some suggestions for approaching them:

Human Resources

The HR team usually owns training and development initiatives. How will they react to a technology-based solution?

Record-keeping, tracking, reporting, and compliance are the most time-consuming, yet important, HR tasks. When presenting the solution, explain how it can help make their jobs easier and faster.

If you have access to a demo of the proposed solution, take some time to walk them through the interface. Show them what the admin side looks like, how to set up training plans, generate reports, and so on.

Get their feedback! Use it to decide whether the vendor is a good fit for your organization.

Senior Leadership

For a training program to be successful, there needs to be leadership buy-in from the top down. Senior leaders want to know how training initiatives can solve current challenges and drive better results. Seek to understand management’s objectives and align these with training.

Show them how the program can help save the company money. Sharing this type of high-level data shows you’ve done your homework.

If the timing is right, demo the solution. Show them how easy it is for employees to use and include case studies or referrals as part of the showcase.

What does the implementation process involve? How long will it take? How much will it cost? Be ready to answer all these questions.

One of the best ways to get the approval of the higher-ups is by using a business case template. Luckily, Capterra has one specifically for HR software, already half-done and totally free!

IT Department

Like with any major application purchase, the IT team will want to know what you expect from them. SaaS or cloud-based solutions reduce the burden on the IT team, so use this benefit to your advantage.

Predict issues that might arise and let them know what level of support you will get from the vendor. Some LMS vendors provide 24/7 technical support as part of their solution, so make sure to include this on your checklist!

Are there any other people in your organization that you need to involve?

If you’re unsure, ask! Go to each department head and ask if anyone else should be consulted about the buying decision. The last thing you want to do is forget to include a key player in the process.

Don’t Forget About Culture

Every organization has its own culture. Culture affects every aspect of your company: from the customers’ perception of your brand, to job satisfaction, to your bottom line.

A Bersin & Associates research report found a connection between culture and business performance. “The single biggest driver of business impact is the strength of an organization’s learning culture,” said Josh Bersin, founder of Bersin by Deloitte.

The report summarized best practices for building a learning culture into the following six key behaviors:

  • Building trust
  • Encouraging reflection
  • Demonstrating learning value
  • Enabling knowledge sharing
  • Formalizing learning as a process

As soon as you get buy-in for training, start promoting a learning culture in which employees feel valued and motivated to grow and improve their skills.

Have you found the right program for you?

We know that finding the right LMS for your organization is not an easy thing to do. But don’t get discouraged! The benefits of training your workforce will be far greater than your investment.

We hope you found this guide helpful and wish you the best of luck in your search! Check out Capterra’s list of Learning Management System software solutions to get started.

Looking for Training software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Training software solutions.

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About the Author

Erin Boettge

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Erin Boettge writes about L&D and HR topics at BizLibrary. As Content Marketing Manager, she is responsible for all aspects of content development, including blogs, eBooks, guides, infographics, webinars and more. You can follow her on Twitter @ErinMBoettge.

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