What is LearnOps? And How Can it Benefit L&D?


In a recent study, ATD analyzed the most common barriers to faster production of training. The core focus of the study was to benchmark how long it takes to create different types of training, but the results also offered some insights into the current operational challenges faced by learning teams. The top three biggest barriers to producing training faster were:

  • Limited resources (67%)
  • Scope creep (41%)
  • Lack of standardized process or templates (37%)

Barriers like these mean that crucial training KPIs slip through the cracks. The result is missed deadlines and missed opportunities to capitalize on the potential of training programs to support organizational performance. 

Without a dedicated focus on how to optimize the way your L&D department functions (and how it interacts with the rest of the organization), efforts to streamline processes and break down these barriers will always remain secondary to other priorities for instructional designers, project managers and learning leaders.

Learning and development are not the first business function to encounter these same challenges. Engineering teams and sales & marketing teams have been working on ways to break down silos between departments in an effort to seal efficiency leaks that are costing the organization precious time, resources, and revenue. 

Let’s take a look at what L&D can learn from these efforts and how it can be applied to learning processes in your organization to speed up training creation, expand your team’s capacity, and create value throughout the entire learning lifecycle. 

Digital transformation is a perfect example of the type of initiative that would fall under LearnOps responsibility. Join this upcoming webinar for a practical and effective framework for your L&D digital transformation:
Digitize This: Your Essential Framework for Digital Transformation in L&D

What does the term LearnOps mean?

The concept of “LearnOps” is derived from similar terms used throughout the organization. It first began with the concept of “DevOps,” which meant consolidating software development with other IT processes and teams for better collaboration between departments and a more seamless hand off from one phase of software development to the next. This resulted in both a faster development cycle and higher quality software. With the success of DevOps apparent to all, other departments started to try the concept on for size.

For example, in many organizations the sales, marketing, and customer success departments have been consolidated into “RevOps.” The term is short for Revenue Operations as each of these teams has a direct influence on the generation and maintenance of business revenue.  


But why bother consolidating them at all? Well, for starters, many organizations began to discover that each of these teams were working in fairly deep silos. On the surface, it doesn’t sound like too big an issue. If each of the teams is still hitting their targets and performing well, what’s the problem?

The problem was that, on closer inspection, it became apparent that the silos between these teams were actually causing big revenue leaks. When each department is using their own set of data, tools, technologies, processes, and objectives, opportunities to maximize deal sizes and predict churn are easily missed. 

Similar challenges are faced by L&D departments across many industries and organizations. From working with business partners to analyze training needs, to collaborating with stakeholders on the development and delivery of training, L&D is not a team that is partitioned off from the rest of the organization, but they often operate that way. 

Want to find a way to work more effectively with business partners to determine training needs? Check out this free ebook:
Learning Advisory Committees: How to Make L&D a Strategic Pillar in Your Organization


Why should you consider implementing LearnOps?

Developing a LearnOps view of your L&D processes from start to finish can uncover a ton of missed opportunities to streamline training development and produce better learning outcomes, including:

  • Identifying and reducing friction between stakeholders, designers, and project managers
  • Better and more timely visibility into budgetary and resource leaks from one end of the learning development process to the other
  • Increased visibility into training needs across the organization
  • More valuable data on learner preferences and performance
  • Streamlining and making the most out of the learning technology stack 
  • Reducing the time to market for new training initiatives
  • Aligning L&D more closely with organizational objectives and performance
  • Better learner experience and improved outcomes for key stakeholders throughout the business
  • Cohesive approach to training intake, projects, deployment/delivery, and measurement

LearnOps is about consolidating the efforts, insights, and responsibilities of multiple areas of the learning lifecycle so that all cogs in the wheel move together seamlessly. 


Do you need dedicated LearnOps roles for your team?

Part of the successful introduction of DevOps and RevOps included some reorganization of team structures. The same is true for L&D, but does that mean you need to do some hiring? The short answer is: yes.

A dedicated LearnOps role on your team can handle four core responsibilities on behalf of the learning and development department:


From helping to identify capacity gaps and hiring needs to analyzing optimal workflows (both within the L&D team and in conjunction with other stakeholders) LearnOps specialists will be able to streamline the way training development operates.


When new training initiatives, processes, workflows, or technology are introduced, LearnOps will oversee the successful implementation of these elements. LearnOps should have ownership of administration and documentation behind processes and workflows to ensure alignment.


The role(s) should also take on the collection and measurement of learning data to provide insights into how L&D can operate more efficiently and align themselves more closely with the wider organization.


To facilitate all this, LearnOps roles within L&D should also take ownership of the research and implementation of new learning technology, as well as optimization of existing tools at the department’s disposal.

And the long answer? It depends.

Kicking off LearnOps as a concept in your L&D department can be done in two ways.

  1. Allocate LearnOps responsibilities to existing team members
  2. Develop specialized role(s) for the department

The direction you choose depends entirely on the size of your organization, your existing team structure, and the wider structure and culture of your organization.

For more guidance on incorporating a LearnOps role into your L&D team, check out this fully customizable
LearnOps Specialist job description template:

The Bottom Line

The concept of LearnOps is all about breaking down silos and consolidating important processes, data sources, and tools, not just within the L&D department, but in conjunction with other stakeholders throughout the learning lifecycle and in alignment with organizational objectives and performance. The end goal is music to the ears of any learning leader: a budget spent more wisely, a team with expanded capacity for learning development, and an L&D department perfectly in tune with the needs and performance of the organization.

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