Training Industry Quarterly - Spring 2008 - (Page 13)

LEARNING TECHNOLOGY | RICK J. CROWLEY EXAMINING THE DIFFERENT COST MODELS FOR TECHNOLOGY WILL ALLOW YOU TO BE INFORMED, AWARE AND SELECTIVE OPTIMIZING THE COST OF LEARNING TECHNOLOGY T here’s been a lot of discussion about the future of the LMS and its role in the convergence of personalized content, performance management, search and other immersive learning technologies. To understand the cost models behind learning technologies and how we might begin to revise our thinking, let’s take a look at some of the considerations when budgeting for learning technology: ■ Customizations Avoid customizations if and when possible. Too much money can be lost in trying to provide the best customized experience. Keep in mind that any money that you use to develop a customization will generally have to be spent again and again when the technology needs to be upgraded. Is the value really there for the business to customize the learning experience, or should the focus be brought back onto the actual content or learning we are all supporting? ■ Resources — People vs. Dollars To deliver learning technologies that support the learning business, we basically have two budget variables we can adjust: people and dollars. The art is in how to balance the two. I prefer to have a small team made up of mostly senior-level business analysts working with a small IT team and a larger percentage of the budget leveraged as program dollars. Dollars are easier to acquire and much easier to manage when bad times may impact your overall business (versus layoffs, etc.). Outsourcing has definitely been proven to me to be a more cost-efficient investment in learning services. It reduces overall support, enables you to apply dollars quickly to meet needs, and if your learner base grows, it easily allows you to grow with it. With a utility company (like cable) it is better if you don’t have to worry about the technologies that support you and if you don’t have to own the upgrades. You just keep turning the services on and off as you need them and economies of scale give us a much better price point. ■ Core Competence Look at your learning function: Do you have course developers, instructional designers, program mangers, IT analysts and DBAs sitting in meetings defining the online learning experience of your LMS? Can any of them claim their core competence is usability or search or registration’? If not, this may not be the best investment of your resources for meeting the needs of your learners. It is a very expensive investment to have to develop a level of expertise for every learning service to allow you to support the users when they have needs or questions. ■ Integrations Application integrations are expensive. In my most recent experience the LMS was integrated in a point-to-point way with 12 other applications. That doesn’t include integrations to the learning content developed and delivered by a learning partner. There are a couple of opportunities here to think about. First, centralize your integrations through one API (application programming interface) that is the starting point for every integration. This provides flexibility with focus to optimize all integrations. Second, be careful what tools and guidelines you standardize on. For example, SCORM is not a standard,and although some will argue AICC is, the definition includes the ability to implement in a customized way, which negates the predictability a real standard helps to drive. ■ ‘Rationalized’ Innovation The last opportunity to focus your learning systems spend is to better manage your innovations. What businesses tend to do when it comes to technologies and applications is to chase the current “shiny ball”. Be strategic. This includes being selective. You do not want all of your resources investing time and money in R&D. Be aware of hidden costs, and know that very few things are “free.” Rick Crowley is senior director, learning systems, for NetApp University. Before joining NetApp, Rick was a driving force behind Cisco’s e-learning implementation and was director of technology training for Oracle. Email Rick at 13 Training Industry Quarterly, Spring 2008 / A Training Industry, Inc. ezine /

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Training Industry Quarterly - Spring 2008

Training Industry Quarterly - Spring 2008
At the Editor’s Desk
Winning Organizations Through People
Before You Buy…
Learning Technologies
Take Your ROI to Level 6
LCMS: A Critical Link to Learning Success
Establishing Best Practices for Learning Governance
Training’s Role in Continuous Improvement
Meet Jim Mitnick
Meet Karen Kocher
Meet Christina Cernuch
The Personal Side of Personnel Training
Closing Arguments

Training Industry Quarterly - Spring 2008