Sometimes it’s a good idea to take stock of your learning and development efforts. While many organizations might have an attitude along the lines of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” the ability to understand the efficacy of your training programs on a deeper level using a learning and development audit should be a welcome component to your department.
Indeed, even the E in ADDIE is “Evaluate.” If individual courses are evaluated by both team members and learners alike—and then adjusted should there be issues—shouldn’t your entire L&D effort?
Further, the idea behind an audit is to not find problems but rather to determine how to make improvements—no matter how small.
An L&D audit should begin and end with your learning strategy. Download this free L&D strategy toolkit to get started:
The Learning and Development Strategy Toolkit
Signs You Might Need a Learning and Development Audit
Conducting an audit out of the blue is probably something no one on your team has time to do. However, there might exist some tell-tale signs that an audit is in order.
1. Less engagement with current training courses
Every organization has its tried-and-true learning courses, perhaps a few that might even be sought after by multiple teams. However, you and your team might have noticed that learners who would normally be engaged in the training have suddenly been apathetic, perhaps completing modules too quickly or not at all.
While new trainings can have mixed results, a learning experience normally known to produce high levels of engagement that are suddenly no longer could be a sign that the course, and perhaps others, need to be audited.
2. Less engagement with L&D in general
Lower or uncertain engagement with individual courses could be a sign that a review is in order, but if the L&D team suddenly recognizes that fewer training requests are being submitted and just an overall slowing interest in leaning on L&D to develop or guide learning experiences, then perhaps there might be some organizational issues to examine.
3. Learning outcomes are mixed
Even if learners seem engaged with courses provided by L&D, and training requests continue to come in, an audit might be necessary if learning outcomes are mixed.
Uncertain results from courses might indicate that the material might resonate with learners, but it needs to be updated, because it might no longer be applicable to work-related tasks.
4. Technology upgrades
This type of audit might be familiar to many when new technologies, such as devices, platforms, operating systems, apps, and networks are introduced either to a team or to the organization as a whole.
An audit of compatibility and suitability with existing and potentially future learning experiences would be in order if it is believed that it will somehow be disruptive.
5. Changes in human capital management
As organizations grow or scale back, launch products, shift strategies, and make other changes, people’s training needs change, too.
By conducting a skills gap analysis, which is a type of audit, an organization can determine what gaps exist between employees’ current skills and the skills considered necessary or even critical for the organization to reach its goals.
How to Conduct a Learning and Development Audit
While there is no single way to conduct an audit, here are a few general guidelines.
1. Cannot be customized
This is of course the biggest disadvantage of leaning on off the shelf, ready-made courses: they cannot be customized for your organization. As such, the course might fall short, omitting necessary skills the learner needs to do their job, or conversely, “overteaching” concepts the employee will never need to know for their roles in your organization.
2. Requires independence
This is an issue with all distance learning, even with courses custom built in house. However, learners can easily be distracted by other courses in the “marketplace” aspect of the platform. Using a third-party platform requires that the learner be focused on the single course at hand.
3. Technical and UX issues
As with any eLearning course, the platform must be fully functional and user-friendly across all platforms, operating systems, and devices. While Udemy and LinkedIn Learning, with their thousands of courses, are most likely user-friendly across every platform, courses provided by a smaller provider might not be.
4. No competitive advantage
If thousands of other learners have taken the same course—including learners working at your organization’s competitors—the value of the course might be diminished.
Interested in learning more about the strategic value of overhauling your training intake processes?
Check out this free ebook!
Next Steps After Conducting a Learning and Development Audit
Whew! Audit completed. What will you do next?
Oftentimes, the employee may know exactly what learning resource is needed. The employee might be a member of a professional association or online networking group in which a particular vendor or set of courses is considered the “standard” for learning or maintaining a particular skill.
To facilitate the process of identifying the right courses, you can even ask this question or a similar one in the training intake request form.
If you’ve attended any type of corporate learning conference, no doubt the vendors in the “partner showcase” included all sorts of online universities, MOOCs, and platforms. These vendors can give you an idea of the scope—and all associated costs—of their online offerings.
Be sure to ask them the hard questions—after all, they want your business—and even ask if there is a “try before you buy” option. Perhaps you can start a pilot program with a handful of employees; garner their feedback and then decide whether you want to move forward with that vendor.
As a less conventional way to find learning providers, ask HR if you can search through their Applicant Tracking System (ATS).
Job applicants often add certificates earned from online education providers to their resumes, especially if that provider delivered a skill necessary for the applicant to land the job. With some simple search terms, your ATS can pick this up from resumes that have been scanned in the system.
If these delivered the skills necessary for that employee to succeed, then these could be good sources for you to explore for employees who need training.
Part of any audit is understanding the upskilling and reskilling needs in your organization. Learn more about the strategic value of upskilling and reskilling in this free eBook:
How Upskilling and Reskilling Programs Can Futureproof Your Workforce