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How to Plead the Business Case With E-Learning Skeptics

— by Bill Cushard

Many organizations are considering implementing e-learning projects, but there are always stakeholders who are tough to convince. They have certain objections to e-learning, which makes trainers' jobs more difficult. You know e-learning is the way to go, but how to do you persuade these stakeholders that it needs to happen?  Here are some tactics to consider that I've used with success:

Build the business case

First, consider building a business case the right way. This will help you think through the risks and pitfalls and also prepare for any objections you may encounter from stakeholders in your organization.

Answer the objections

Second, be prepared for the inevitable objections you'll hear in response. One major objection that you will encounter is that online training is not as effective as being in a classroom. Plenty of people believe this, and for good reason. Too many of us have completed an online training module by just going through the motions. It is a reasonable objection. It is also an opportunity for you two demonstrate why e-learning is superior in many ways.

Offer the evidence

In order to overcome this objection, you must present evidence. And there is evidence that online instruction is as good as or better than classroom training in many cases. If you read between the lines in this research, you will find that motivation and learning capability are key components to the effectiveness of online learning. In other words, it is probably more important to tap into people’s motivation to want to learn than to try to design the best training possible. Trainers need to answer the question, “Why would someone want to complete this training?” For example, will a person’s sales increase? Will a learner be able to manage their time better to get home for dinner? Will a learner improve the quality of their work and get a better raise or even that promotion they've been after?”

You can convince people that online instruction is as good or better if you can answer the questions above and present objective evidence that online instruction is less expensive to deliver and more effective at getting results.

Bill Cushard, Chief Learning Officer at The Knowland Group, is a learning leader with more than 12 years experience in training and performance improvement at well-known companies like E*TRADE Financial, Accenture, and Time Warner Cable. In his leadership role at Knowland University, Bill focuses on helping clients get the most out of the products and services provided through a combination of guided and self-paced learning opportunities. He believes all learning experiences should be grounded in real-world application and designed to improve sales performance.

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