Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Benchmarks for Measuring Training Effectiveness


What are benchmarks and how can they be used for training measurement effectiveness?

Benchmarking can be defined as a way to compare business practices, processes and results of one company to other companies, usually in the same industry, to see where you stand. In the training world, benchmarks can be used to:

  • Learn the relative effectiveness of a program
  • Gather feedback for ongoing improvement
  • Establish targets for future performance
  • Inspire new ideas, approaches and stretch goals

The American Customer Satisfaction Index reports on how happy customers are with various service providers. The age-old Consumer Reports is an index of what products are recommended by their users and why. There are multiple metrics for the performance of hardware and software products. But where do you go for training benchmarks?


  • Take a Baseline. First you need to establish your own metrics…everything from instructor quality to business impact depending upon your unique strategy, culture and objectives.

  • Find a Benchmark Index. Then you need to find best practices training effectiveness scores within your industry. Some may be available on the internet for free but it may be more reliable to access data from membership organizations like ATD (Association for Talent Development, formerly American Society for Training & Development).

  • See Where You Stand. See how well you compared to the industry as a whole and to a targeted subset of companies dependent upon your objectives.


Then you can set your goals for ongoing improvement with some context from how others are doing. 

A Word of Caution When It Comes to Benchmarking People Practices 
Because every business (even those in the same industry) has a different strategy and a different organizational culture, what works in one company often does not work in another. So while benchmarking typically provides an interesting data point, it rarely provides the differentiated approach required to outperform your competition for your distinctive strategy, culture and talent pool. 

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