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Field Guide: Building a Business Case for Mobile Learning
Field Guide:
Building a Business Case
for Mobile Learning

Mobile learning, applied to the right problem, in the right way, can deliver enormous efficiency and efficacy gains to an organization. But how do you justify the initial investment, and how do you ensure that learning is aligned with business goals? This field guide will explore critical steps to ensure that you get the most out of your mobile learning investment.

This field guide will explore critical steps to ensure that you get the most out of
This field guide will explore critical steps to ensure that you get the most out of
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Introduction

Mobile learning, applied to the right problem, in the right way, can deliver enormous e ciency and e cacy gains to an organization. But how do you justify the initial investment, and how do you ensure that learning is aligned with business goals?

This document looks at mobile learning from a

business manager’s perspective and describes some

of the ways it can improve your bottom line and build

a compelling business case for the adoption and

implementation of e-learning in your organization.

THE BUSINESS ADVANTAGES OF MOBILE LEARNING

Traditional instructor-led classroom-based training or virtual trainings delivered via computer-based learning management systems (LMS) are still effective ways to teach new skills. But it comes at a high cost in terms of time commitment. Classroom training requires travel and loss of work time while computer-based training requires the employee to remain fixed at a work station, and classroom instruction is generally during working hours. This means employees can spend several working days on training just to achieve compliance in some cases.

Mobile breaks these chains to allow for “untethered” learning at the time when it is most necessary or most convenient – on or off the clock. The very nature of how people use mobile devices tells us that the device is always on, always in-hand and always connected. An employee can have access to the information he or she needs to do the job anytime, anywhere, even without Internet access because of the explosion of smartphones and tablets on the market.

Mobile learning, when married with an LMS, can offer organizations and individuals the following key benefits:

Increase training opportunities as learners access content in the moment

Easy access and acquisition of all the information within the LMS

as learners access content in the moment ■ Easy access and acquisition of all the information
as learners access content in the moment ■ Easy access and acquisition of all the information
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Ability to provide learning via mobile devices to employees without computer infrastructure

Organization can leverage SCORM authoring tools to build compelling mobile content

End users can engage in a completely offline learning experience that includes rich media and video without risking poor quality from bad connections

Track completions, scores and overall impacting using the native reporting capabilities

The growth in mobile-delivered learning is driven by rapid user adoption, significant cost savings, more effective presentation of training content, reinforcement of on-the-job performance and the immediate availability of access to job aids and resources. Whereas employees once had to congregate in one location or remain seated in front of a computer to receive corporate learning, corporate learning can now come to them. Employees can pull out bit-sized training when it is needed, making the value, potential and return on the invest increase because the learner will learn more when the information is relevant to him or her.

Convincing your senior management team to implement a mobile learning system will require a clearly defined business case. Developing a laundry list of potential benefits is only the beginning; you must then apply them to your particular business situation. A business case will offer a clear statement of the business problem(s) and your proposed solution(s), as well as provide measurements of success. In essence, it describes your organization’s current status versus the desired status, and how the organization can achieve its goals.

ALIGNING MOBILE LEARNING WITH BUSINESS GOALS AND MEASURING RESULTS

The target audience for your mobile learning business case will most likely be both business unit managers and senior executives—the people who will ultimately give your proposal the business and financial support it needs to succeed. Consequently, it is important that your business case be aligned with their business goals and “pain points.”

Business Unit Managers

Business unit managers own the problems that training solves. They are pragmatic; their overriding interest is getting the job done—and soon. Until you know what your business unit managers are trying to accomplish, you can’t talk to them about potential results.

you know what your business unit managers are trying to accomplish, you can’t talk to them
you know what your business unit managers are trying to accomplish, you can’t talk to them
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The business unit manager is usually training’s primary sponsor. The “right client” is the decision-maker who understands the end goal and has responsibility for the organizational area in which the problem occurs. When you’re working with the right client in your organization, measuring results is not difficult. Start with the business unit manager’s business problems and work backwards. The most important step in measuring performance is to pin down the business manager’s answer to the classic question: “What’s in it for me?”

Don’t skip this step. Without it, meaningful tracking is impossible. First, gain agreement on the business problem(s) to be solved and the value of solving it (them). Then go on to outline your proposed solutions. Establish a baseline measure of current performance and clearly indicate how performance will be tracked and reported.

indicate how performance will be tracked and reported. Determine what your project sponsor(s) will accept as

Determine what your project sponsor(s) will accept as persuasive evidence that the program produced the agreed upon result, then make your case logically by linking learning to business results. Establish a causal (not casual!) link between a particular skill deficiency and a particular business outcome. Build a compelling logical argument based on the business unit manager’s metrics, performance requirements and the metrics that would indicate the return on the mobile learning investment. The process of tracking learning results starts before any learning takes place. It begins with an agreement between the training manager and the line manager on the value of solving the problem.

Your joint examination of the problem will clarify the gap between the results desired and the results you’re actually getting. Then determine what major skill gaps and learning deficiencies are holding people back and estimate the expected dollar value to be gained by eliminating the deficiency. Again, make sure you get agreement on the expected outcomes, how they will be measured and what constitutes good performance.

make sure you get agreement on the expected outcomes, how they will be measured and what
make sure you get agreement on the expected outcomes, how they will be measured and what
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Throughout the process, help the managers answer questions about why skills matter and what on-going good performance looks like. You are focusing sustained attention on solving business problems and adding and identifying tangible values for each skill to be taught. As a result, you’re forging a partnership with the business unit manager based on the core concern: maximizing performance without taking the employee away from the job.

Senior Executives

No organization has the resources to do everything it might want. Senior executives are forced to choose where the company’s top priorities lie, what comes first, whether initiatives should be completed in-house or outsourced, and which will yield the greatest return. A good business case shows expected consequences of the action over time, and, most importantly, includes the methods and rationale used to quantify benefits and costs.

Executives focus on two things: strategy and outfoxing the competition. Consequently, they will be interested most in information that discusses sales, revenues and profits, as well as what will increase the company’s market share. Consequently, they are looking for you to convince them that your mobile learning initiative is worthy of the organization’s time, effort and money. To make their analysis clear, distill a complex business alternative into a three- or four-page business case to provide a tool that supports planning and decision making, including information about which vendor to choose and when to implement.

From a senior executive’s standpoint, business cases are generally designed to answer thequestion: Whatare thelikely financial and other business consequences if we take (or don’t take) this or that action? Creating a business case that is deeply ingrained with the insights of the business unit manager will help you in labeling that person as a trusted advocate for the senior executive to consult with further.

RETURN ON INVESTMENT FROM MOBILE LEARNING

Your CFO and/or executive team has probably already asked you to justify your training investment in terms of financial payback. Being able to produce an accurate and defendable return on investment (ROI) has long been the holy grail of the training industry. Much has been written on the topic, but in the end, every calculation has some element of subjectivity.

However, there is still a lot you can talk to your executive team about to justify the mobile learning investment. Financial calculations can be based on the reduction in time taken to complete tasks, the ability to carry out activities not possible before, or increases in the quality of activities. Here you can refine your

to carry out activities not possible before, or increases in the quality of activities. Here yo
to carry out activities not possible before, or increases in the quality of activities. Here yo
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persuasive appeal for the desire of every executive: mobile learning will increase the company’s speed to money.

Turning to the cost side of the equation, mobile learning offers several advantages over other types of training. You need to take into account the following factors:

The productivity lost from being away from the job is likely to be considerably lower, particularly if employees are willing to train outside normal work hours.

The training time may also be less, given the ability to take just the required training modules (or “opting out” by showing competency in a pre-test) rather than having to attend an entire course. This decreases employee time-to-productivity/time-to- productivity or competency.

Mobile learning requires very little to no training administration for student course bookings, reserving classrooms or updating training records.

Course creation to maintain new compliance rules or inform on new product offerings is easier when courses are shorter. Mobile learning offers the benefits of rapid content development because the courses are naturally shorter, which can prove effective in engaging and satisfying employees needs in a timely manner.

Mobile learning also delivers a number of less tangible organizational benefits:

By empowering individuals to develop their own skills when they want, enhanced employee motivation and reduced staff attrition will lead to savings in recruitment costs.

Mobile learning can offer a higher knowledge retention rate as information is accessed when it is needed and archived for reference later.

Mobile learners can use their own “native” devices.

In the next section of this document, we’ll look at two specific ways of using mobile learning that offers substantial benefits:

The ability to develop, introduce and roll-out internal product or customer training quickly and on a nationwide or worldwide scale, leading to faster time to market, earlier revenue streams and enhanced competitiveness.

a nationwide or worldwide scale, leading to faster time to market, earlier revenue streams and enhanced
a nationwide or worldwide scale, leading to faster time to market, earlier revenue streams and enhanced
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The possibility of providing training directly to your customers much more easily, leading to new revenue streams or enhanced product adoption.

Provide easy access to technical support documents that are frequently updated.

Clearly, not all of these paybacks can or will be achieved overnight. However, these represent a realistic set of quantifiable benefits to help build your business case for e-learning.

MOBILE LEARNING FOR RAPID PRODUCT ROLL-OUT

Introducing new products, systems or processes to your employees and salespeople via classroom training can be a major project. Apart from the high cost, such projects can also take substantial time to develop and deliver; thereby delaying the date when the new office system can be brought online or the new product can be offered to customers.

But the old barriers of time and distance can be eroded significantly using mobile learning technology. Once the training has been created and made available via a learning management system, it is also automatically available to all employees via mobile learning. Any number of individuals can take the course simultaneously—even within a required time period—and you’ll know when they’ve completed the material and demonstrated proficiency by achieving, for instance, a passing score on a post-test.

Mobile learning is particularly beneficial to an organization operating in a marketplace where there is constant change. For example, a company with a large product offering faces an enormous struggle in keeping its sales force up- to-date and educated, especially if that sales force is geographically dispersed. But mobile enables product development and sales training departments to create and deliver training quickly and without regard to distance.

Mobile learning is also the best resource for just-in-time training; for example, as a refresher or knowledge database that can be accessed just before making a sales call. A sales representative could be out to a client’s office on the day a new product training becomes available. Somewhere between lunch and their afternoon meeting, the representative could take the mobile course and have a whole new sales pitch for the client. And your company can update this mobile learning material and make it quickly available to employees you want to turn downtime in the grocery line, waiting for their children to finish piano lessons or stuck in a traffic jam into uptime.

downtime in the grocery line, waiting for their children to finish piano lessons or stuck in
downtime in the grocery line, waiting for their children to finish piano lessons or stuck in
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If you already have your mobile infrastructure and culture in place, then new product rollouts quickly become a matter of creating the training material and making it available online. In summary, consider the following benefits:

online. In summary, consider the following benefits: Further, the mobile training method can also be extended

Further, the mobile training method can also be extended to customers, strategic partners and third-party vendors to deliver valuable training that informs on your products and services while also providing another potential stream of income, along with cost and time savings and a decreased time-to-market. Mobile learning with your extended enterprise will often garner better training completion results as these individuals will be even less inclined than your own employees to sit for prolonged periods in classrooms or in front of computers that can create some highly unproductive working days.

Of course, there are many other benefits from having more knowledgeable customers and channel partners, including higher brand loyalty and fewer service calls. And it can often be advantageous to provide the training for free— particularly if it relates to the sales process. For example, potential buyers can take a mobile tour of your company’s products and the available options, guiding them through the purchase decision with advice, comparison reviews and financial planning tools. In the end, you’ll deliver an increased number of well- qualified and educated customers to your sales department.

In the end, you’ll deliver an increased number of well- qualified and educated customers to your
In the end, you’ll deliver an increased number of well- qualified and educated customers to your
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MOVING YOUR MOBILE BUSINESS CASE FORWARD

This document has described several different aspects of building a business case for mobile learning in your organization. Building a strong case means justifying the initial investment and aligning mobile learning with your organization’s business goals. Doing so will help you win the necessary financial and business support of your business unit managers and senior executives.

SumTotal Mobile

According to the Bersin & Associates 2011 research report, “m-Learning Update,” mobile learning itself is not revolutionary, and the content delivered is not necessarily new. Mobile learning’s power comes from its ability to connect employees to the knowledge and expertise they need when and where they need it, making it useful for potentially almost any learning need.

Because mobile learning has a strong basis in the content and administration of e-learning, one vendor you should consider including in your business case for mobile learning is SumTotal Systems. Already known as a leader in Learning Management, without which no mobile solution can effectively operate, the company offers SumTotal Mobile, drawing upon its vast industry knowledge and innovative spirit. SumTotal Mobile provides users the following key features:

upon its vast industry knowledge and innovative spirit. SumTotal Mobile provides users the following key features:
upon its vast industry knowledge and innovative spirit. SumTotal Mobile provides users the following key features:
upon its vast industry knowledge and innovative spirit. SumTotal Mobile provides users the following key features:
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BUSINESS CASE TEMPLATE

The following provides a breakdown or template of the basic elements you need to cover to develop your own e-learning business case.

Problem Statement Clearly state the specific business problem(s) to be addressed.

Background Include significant information regarding skills, knowledge, budgeting and performance that contribute to the business problem. Indicate in general terms what’s required to resolve or alleviate the business problem(s).

Proposed Solution Outline the proposed solution.

Project Objectives State what the proposed solution is trying to accomplish.

Current Process Identify the organizational processes that the proposed solution will affect, including internal departments, clients, external partners, vendors and the competition.

Requirements List the resources needed to complete the project (staff, hardware, software, time, budget, etc.)

Alternatives Describe other options to implementing the proposed solution. Be sure to include basic requirements for each and estimate project risks, ramp-up time, costs and project delays.

Compare Alternatives & State Advantages Compare and contrast each of the alternatives with the proposed solution. State similarities and differences, benefits and detriments, and costs associated with each option.

Summarize the advantages of your proposed solution, paying particular attention to such items as ROI and cost/benefit analysis, as well as the impact on revenues, profits and expenses.

attention to such items as ROI and cost/benefit analysis, as well as the impact on revenues,
attention to such items as ROI and cost/benefit analysis, as well as the impact on revenues,
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Additional Considerations List critical success factors other than metrics; for example, effects on partnership agreements with specific vendors, internal marketing and promotion, and the potential need for help desk or customer support.

Action Plan/Recommendation Propose specific action steps. State your short-term and long-term action plans, including major milestones.

Success Measurements Outline how you will measure the solution’s overall success (tie directly to Project Objectives).

Executive Summary Compose a single page that will provide a clear, concise summary of the proposed solution. Include a high-level overview of your research that leads you to the proposal.

concise summary of the proposed solution. Include a high-level overview of your research that leads you
concise summary of the proposed solution. Include a high-level overview of your research that leads you
FIELD GUIDE: BUILDING A BUSINESS CASE FOR MOBILE LEARNING 12 MORE INFORMATION For additional information,
FIELD GUIDE: BUILDING A BUSINESS CASE
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MORE INFORMATION
For additional information, send an email to
connect@sumtotalsystems.com
ABOUT SUMTOTAL

SumTotal Systems, Inc. is the global leader in strategic Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions that provide organizations with a new level of visibility to help make more informed business decisions and accelerate growth. Recognized by industry analysts as the most complete solution, SumTotal provides full employee lifecycle management, including a core system of record, from a single provider for improved business intelligence. The company offers customers of all sizes and industries the most flexibility and choice with multiple purchase, configuration, and deployment options. We have increased the performance of the world’s largest organizations including Sony Electronics (NYSE:

SNE), AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN [ADR]; London: AZN), Amway (KUL:AMWAY), Seagate (NYSE: STX), Dell (NASDAQ:DELL), and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG).

For more information, or to request a demo, please call +1 (866) 768-6825 (US / Canada), +1 (352) 264-2800 (international) or visit www.sumtotalsystems.com

CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS:

SUMTOTAL SYSTEMS, INC. 2850 NW 43RD STREET SUITE #150 GAINESVILLE, FL 32606 USA PHONE: +1 352 264 2800 FAX: +1 352 264 2801

EMEA:

SUMTOTAL SYSTEMS, UK 59-60 THAMES STREET WINDSOR, BERKSHIRE UNITED KINGDOM, SL4 1TX PHONE +44 (0) 1753 211 900 FAX +44 (0) 1753 211 901

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SUMTOTAL SYSTEMS, INDIA PVT. LTD. 7TH FLOOR MAXIMUS TOWERS BUILDING 2B, MIND SPACE RAHEJA IT PARK, CYBERABAD HYDERABAD, AP- 500081, INDIA PHONE: +91 (0) 40 6695 0000 FAX: +91 (0) 40 2311 2727

© 2012 SumTotal Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. SumTotal, the SumTotal logo, and ToolBook are registered trademarks or trademarks of SumTotal Systems, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the United States and/or other countries. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners. 012_0322LS

in the United States and/or other countries. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.
in the United States and/or other countries. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.