A set of new guidelines acts as a starting point for the industry.
The International Organization for Standardization—an independent, nongovernmental international entity with a membership of 168 national standards bodies—has announced metrics for learning and development. David Vance, executive director for the Center for Talent Reporting and member of the ISO group that crafted the recommendations, stated in a June webinar for chief learning officers that he hopes the metrics help the L&D profession advance in its maturity.
The ISO TS 30437 Human Resource Development – Learning and Development Metrics standard is based on, and an extension of, the Talent Development Reporting Principle (TDRP) framework. As part of the ISO process, the working group sought and received 24 pages of comments on the draft metrics, each of which the group’s members individually addressed.
The voluntary guidelines will make benchmarking more valuable, Vance said during the webinar. The standard features metrics on efficiency, effectiveness, and outcomes. Efficiency metrics relate to quantity such as activity, cost, and utilization of L&D. Effectiveness measures quality and includes Phillips Levels 1, 2, 3, and 5. Outcomes are Level 4 metrics, that is the impact of learning on organizational goals. Outcomes, said Vance, are both L&D’s biggest gap and senior leaders’ greatest motivation. (Although, it should be noted that not all L&D programs will have an outcome or Level 4 metric related to them—onboarding or compliance, for example, will not.)
Vance explained several reasons for L&D measurement, among them: to inform or identify trends; to monitor, which ensures that your organization remains above a historical threshold; to evaluate, that is to determine efficiency and impact; and to manage by setting targets to improve.
The standard includes definitions and describes four sample reports: scorecards, dashboards, program evaluation reports, and management reports. The recommendations include user categories, as different information is relevant to different professionals. For example, an L&D leader will want different metrics than a program manager, who will care about different information than a learner.
ISO TS 30437 contains 52 recommended metrics for large organizations and 19 for small and midsize organizations. The metrics for large organizations include efficiency, effectiveness, and outcome recommendations; they cover both formal and informal learning. The metrics for small and midsize organizations are only related to efficiency and effectiveness; they do not include any informal learning metrics.
Vance noted that companies should look at the standard as a starting point and not as an absolute. Every organization is different, including in its levels of resources and priorities. However, Vance said he is an optimist and hopes the L&D profession will see the metrics’ value.
The standard is available on the American National Standards Institute site and from standards bodies in other nations.
Read more from Talent Development Leader.