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Business Analysis for Learning Management Systems

Published: 2015-09-17

 by Lara Suddes

 "I need my staff trained on Time Management skills. When can we get them into a class? It has to be done by the end of the month."

Excellent idea, except it is already the middle of the month and the aforementioned deadline is fast approaching… oh the irony. I have sadly experienced this scenario with a manager or an executive more times then I care to remember.

So what do we do? Drop everything and organise the training as requested or do we investigate further and ask, "What problem you are experiencing?"

If we take the first approach, we will have trained the staff on Time Management (manager or executive too… hey, allow me my day dreams) but not necessarily solved the business problem.

However, if we take a Business Analysis approach, we would first need to identify the business problem and business goal that is in threat of not been achieved, e.g. increase customer satisfaction in call centres by 10% in 12 months. Secondly, that business goal should be SMART (Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely).

A quick way to check if the goal is SMART is to ask the following questions in order:

  1.  Is the goal specific about what it wants to achieve, e.g. Increase customer satisfaction?
  2. If so, then do you know what to measure the achievement of the goal on, e.g. increase by 10%?
  3.  If yes, then is there a deadline by which the goal needs to be achieved, e.g. in 12 months?
  4. Once you have the answers to the above three questions, ask if the goal is achievable by the deadline using the current resources you have in your control? If the answer is yes, then the goal is also realistic. If not, then how can we expect the staff achieve the business goal?

Now that a SMART business goal has been identified, we need to identify what the staff need to do in order to reach the goal. Do the staff have SMART KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that are linked to their job profiles? If yes, we need to start identifying why the staff are not able to reach their goals.

Cathy Moore's action mapping flowchart is a very useful tool to use to determine whether training is really the answer to a business problem or not. Cathy recommends that for each behaviour (KPI), we need to identify why the staff are not doing it. Is the problem caused by issues with motivation, skill, knowledge, or the environment? For each of the four, a flow of questions leads to one of two answers. Either "Design Activities" or "Training isn't the answer".

If training is the "answer", then we need to identify the gap between what the staff currently can do and what the business needs them to do. In Business Analysis terms, we need to obtain the requirements from the stakeholders.

The Functional Requirements can be identified as 'what' skills, knowledge and behaviours the training needs to transfer to staff. Informational Requirements can be listed as 'what' training reports need to be provided back to business. In addition, there are Non-functional Requirements to which quality standards the learning solution needs to adhere.

Once the requirements have been identified, it is time to conceptualise two or more potential learning solutions. We would document the positive and negative impacts, the tangible and intangible benefits, the costs and risks for each solution. As is normal in the requirements management process, we would conduct a feasibility assessment of each solution and make a recommendation to business.

Once the business case for the learning solution has been approved, the detailed learning solution can be designed, piloted, evaluated, modified and rolled out. Just like any other business solution, we are able to use Business Analysis for Learning Solutions, and to help determine if training is what business really needs! Simple, huh? Now… about that Time Management…


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About Lara…

Lara recently left full time employ at MTN where she worked for 18 years. The last position she held was Learning Technology Analyst for MTN Global Learning and Development Centre of Excellence that provides learning solutions to 30,000 learners in 25 countries. Lara was responsible for overseeing and serving as the business and systems analyst, system administrator, super user and lead trainer for the Learning Management System (SumTotal) that serves the entire unified MTN Academy for MTN Group Limited. In addition, she has trained, mentored and coached a global team of 69 system administrators across 25 countries. Lara played the role of technical project manager for MTN bespoke eLearning course projects.

Lara has won numerous supplier and internal MTN awards both individually and as part of a team for work during her employ at MTN.

For the past four years, Lara has lectured modules in the Certificate Programme in Business Analysis and the Diploma in Business Analysis for the Faculty Training Institute, a division of EOH. Before her lecturer accreditation, Lara completed the Diploma in Business Analysis and Diploma in IS Project Management, passing both with distinction.

Lara's experience extends further than information systems and training. She worked as a key member of the graphic design and slide presentation team at JSA Design International, which later began Adcorp Graphics. This experience resulted in Lara becoming a partner of a small business, Executive Slide Presentations, whose product was to design and develop slide presentations for large corporates like Richard Bay Minerals and Smith-Kline Beecham, amongst others.

Later this entrepreneurial experience allowed her to – whilst volunteering on several outreach projects - raise considerable funds to benefit the historically disadvantaged. Her role on these projects was of events project manager.

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