Training programs: Evaluating ROI and training effectiveness

Training is an important component of business success. Measuring the effectiveness of the training programs that your startup offers is a key step in ensuring you realize the expected return on investment (ROI). After each training event, evaluate whether your startup has achieved the desired results.

Furthermore, in ever-changing business environments, be aware that what constitutes a successful training program and its ROI will continually evolve. In measuring results, you can better adjust to these changes.

Evaluating your training programs, their effectiveness and the ROI

To get started on evaluating the effectiveness of your training programs, consider either one or a combination of the following three sources of feedback:

1. Participant feedback:

Note: A training evaluation questionnaire is a set of questions given to trainees at the end of their training session. The questionnaire should focus on content and delivery. The questions should pinpoint whether the training sessions were valuable and well-structured, and look for feasible ways to improve the program.

2. Tests and observation:

  • Conduct tests before and after the training and compare the scores
  • Have participants complete self-assessments
  • Conduct on-the-job observation of trainees’ new skills
  • Request reports from co-workers and the trainees’ manager(s)

Notes: Knowledge assessment is typically a review of what was learned using a “before and after” perspective. This provides your startup and the trainer with a benchmark for measuring the training program outcome. It can be developed in many formats, including short-answer or multiple-choice questions (use the same questions before and after the training). Focus the questions on the learning objectives.

You can use informal observation to solicit general information about the training program, especially in manufacturing environments. More structured observation can generate detailed feedback through checklists or interviews.

3. Qualitative and quantitative results:

  • Examine financial reports and metrics
  • Conduct quality audits
  • Request interviews with customers to secure additional key perspectives

Deciding which sources to use in evaluating training effectiveness

When deciding which sources of data to use to evaluate your training programs, think about the administrative costs and time required to collect the data. Remember that training involves your startup’s ROI and that measuring the effectiveness of training has to be balanced against any associated costs.

Ensure that key findings from your evaluation are supplied to all stakeholders in the process. Identify and track changes to the training programs to ensure accountability and the value-add of the evaluation process.

Focus the process on simplicity and accountability

Measuring training effectiveness is vital to the success of a business. If a training program is effective, it can secure winning results—and can often achieve more than expected. Nevertheless, evaluating the effectiveness of training and whether it has realized a strong ROI can pose a challenge for companies. Startups should keep the focus on simplicity and accountability.