Is it just too hard to persuade your boss you’ve found the right training management system?
As the expert in learning management, you may really like one learning management system over another, but does what you like make sense for the business as a whole? Does your boss agree? This article demonstrates how organisations like yours can analyse the pros and cons of introducing a TMS and hopefully give you the ammunition you need to fight your battles in the boardroom.
Your boss most likely has to report to a board of directors which is interested in one thing “the bottom line”. Or to put it another way “what’s the return on investment?” Most ideas fail at this stage, not because they weren’t good ideas that would really improve business outcomes, but because the person initiating the idea didn’t present the idea in a way that addresses this vital question. There are 5 classic mistakes that experts like you might make when trying to present your ideas:
Imagine yourself in the Shark Tank (the TV Series). You’ve rolled up to the boardroom to pitch your ideas but it becomes clear after a few questions from the sharks that you really haven’t done your homework. Response like “I don’t know”, or “I’m not sure” or “I’ll need to check and get back to you” sow the seed of doubt. Here are some of the questions you should prepare for:
- Does this software provide at least 75-80% of what we need out of the box?
- How much is the software going to cost the company initially?
- Are there any ongoing fees, e.g. annual subscription license?
- Are any changes likely to be needed? If so, what are they likely to cost?
- How much will we (the company) have to invest in adoption, training and support?
- How much will it contribute to our bottom line? (Reduce costs and/or increase revenue)
- Is the software easy to use? Will our people, partners, customers use it?
- Is it secure and private? (are we likely to get breached or sued under the privacy act?)
- How long before we (the company) see a return on our investment?
- Are vendors reputable and trustworthy providers who’ll be around for the long haul?
Failing to do your research and hoping your word as an expert in your field will be good enough usually doesn’t cut it. Do your research on behalf of the company before asking others to invest time and energy in your idea.
Lack of clarity about what you need
The best software applications come out of identifying a need and addressing it with and intelligent and well-designed solution. But are those your needs? Just because they they did an amazing job of solving Company X’s problem doesn’t mean they’re going to solve yours?
Many software solutions will fail in the Training business because they rely on what the vendor considers important rather than what you consider important. But before you can get there you really need to analyse your processes and look for where streamlining and efficiencies are going to make a real difference. This is sample list to consider if you’re a training organisation. Consider how good software could improve each of these processes in your business,. Consider who does it, how much time and effort do they invest doing it, how well do they do it, could they get better results with the right tools:
- Course or Curriculum design
- Course scheduling and training event calendars
- Learner enrolment application and registration
- USI, Student management and training records management
- Training delivery and assessment
- Reporting and AVETMISS, VSL, PRISM, RAPT submissions
- Funding, invoicing, loan management, payments and financial reporting
- Continuous learning and improvement, professional development and staff capabilities
Getting clarity about all your training processes is necessary even if you have no intention of purchasing a software system. It's what makes your organisation different and helps you to create a framework that can initiates the hard conversations with your boss.
It's not worth the time and effort, we can manage as we are
Often you can see it, but you’ve been down this road before and you just know it’s not worth getting into a barney with the boss, because it won’t go anywhere. These feelings often turn to tears at performance reviews when there’s a new kid on the block who’s heard all your ‘justified’ complaints and has learned a new way to get in the bosses ear with all the amazing ideas that you couldn’t push through. Guess who gets all the credit for saving the business a sack of money and puts you in a vulnerable position?
We recently solved a problem for a business where 12 managers were regularly having to spend 2 full days in every month trawling spreadsheets, timesheets and and project reports to collate the data they needed for their monthly reports. Much of the data was inaccurate, because frankly there were no systems for collecting it. It had to derived by best-guess or simply just made-up. This in turn affected the quality of the reports. So to sum it up 12 managers costing a total of $960,000 per year wasting a total of 2,880 man hours per year generating useless reports that the business can’t use.
Were these reports a bad idea? No, the concept was a fundamentally good tool for business improvement, KPIs and improving the bottom line. But though they grumbled about it incessantly no one actually took the initiative to implement it properly. In the end an external business analyst with a clean slate identified this huge waste of resources and missed opportunity and flagged it as a concern to the board.
We were called in to implement a solution that in the end cost the business $60K with an on going SLA of about $10K per annum, requiring one administratrator less than 1 hour per month at a cost of $30/month to generate accurate and meaningful reports for the monthly board meetings. Not only did this save the company over $950K per annum, but it also freed up 12 managers to do meaningful work and gave the company accurate information for making important business decisions.
Often these huge game changers are missed because it all looks too hard at the start and we don’t want to appear to be ‘rocking the boat’.
Poor Presentation Skills
There are a thousand sites on the web that can help you create and deliver effective presentations. But you may have done all the above, only to fail at the last hurdle because you lack the presentation skills to deliver your message effectively. The key points for a good business presentation are:
- Consider the benefits to your audience and that might well include making your life easier, but make sure to consider the benefits to the company in your presentation.
- Keep it clear and simple. Getting overly technical and complicated with the points in your argument will quickly diminish their potency.
- Speak authoritatively like someone who knows what they’re talking about and has thought about how to say it. That may take practice and rehearsal - but it’s worth it.
- Have a beginning, a middle and an end. Introduce your presentation and what you aim to achieve, deliver it. And at the end summarise and reenforce the key points.
- Questions and Answers are the best way to get feedback, handle objections and help you boss to make decisions for the board.
Improving presentation skills are one of those competencies that will stand you in good stead wherever you are. Not just at work, but almost anything you do in the real world involves presenting your ideas.
So what does your Boss need to know about the Bluegem TMS?
- The Bluegem TMS addresses all the processes undertaken by a typical training organisation. From Course (Curriculum) Design through to invoicing and billing, AVETMISS compliance and reporting. Basically, all those points mentioned earlier are all well represented ion Bluegem. Bluegem is also a software development company, so if you can’t find it out of the box we can build it for you cost-effectively risk free.
- Bluegem is flexible and highly configurable. You can set it up to work the way you do. You can brand it with your corporate styles with modern responsive mobile friendly themes, you can even change the language of labels and field names to map your internal terminology.
- Bluegem is a secure cloud hosted solution that is convenient and easy to use. Whether your learners access it via a desktop or a mobile device they’ll find the learner experience for course browsing, enrolling online and participating in eLearning courses and assessments easy and user friendly.
- Bluegem is great value for money. No other training management system (TMS) available to the VET sector has as much built-in business functionality. But we also provide you with a comprehensive API for custom reporting, workflows, integration with your corporate business systems and your web site.
- Bluegem will save you time and money. Figures like 300 to 600% savings may sound silly in a retail shopping environment but when you think about how much wasted time and energy goes into ineffective management of talented and costly people to keep the business alive when they could be doing far more productive work you have to ask “is a few thousand dollars a year to fix these problems value for money?” Nine times out of 10 you’d have to say “absolutely!”
The best way to learn about Bluegem is to request a demo and trial so you can do your research and make sure your boss gets solutions to those nagging problems that prevent you both from getting a good night’s sleep.