Proving ROI: How to convince management to join the eLearning revolution

You know that eLearning is the way to go. And so do many others – the global eLearning market is now a multi-billion-dollar business and continues to grow steadily. But how do you convince those who have always done training the traditional way to do things a little differently?

Here are five ways you can quantify the benefits of eLearning (and convince the money managers that it’s time to change).

1. Reduced expenses

You eliminate the costs associated with traditional classroom-style learning when you go online. These costs are also easily and quickly quantifiable.

For starters, you’ll save on production and printing of training materials, room hire, catering, travel time, travel expenses, and the pesky reporting and record-keeping expenses. Think about what other costs are involved in your traditional staff-training sessions and keep adding up the savings.

2. Time savings

eLearning also offers significant savings regarding increases in time efficiency. With the ability to deliver on demand and the elimination of travel time, it’s no surprise that there are big time cuts on offer.

Indeed, studies suggest eLearning demands 40–50 per cent less time compared to traditional training. When you then multiply that percentage by the number of employees and the number of regular training hours per year, this can translate to serious annual savings.

3. Improved learning outcomes

There’s plenty of evidence to show that eLearning is a more efficient way to learn. Better information retention rates have been reported, and a study by IBM showed that participants in an eLearning program learned nearly five times more material without any increase in time spent on training.

eLearning also encourages more flexible, responsive and targeted courses. In a rapidly changing business environment, easily adaptable delivery means your organisation is better equipped to adapt to evolving training needs.

4. Increased productivity

According to popular HR wisdom, people are an organisation’s most valuable asset. So investing in your people is always a good idea. It can boost morale, engagement and staff retention, which in turn has a positive impact on productivity and revenue.

eLearning Industry writes, “It’s been estimated that nearly 25 per cent of all employees leave their job because there simply aren’t enough training or learning opportunities.”

This study makes a compelling argument for eLearning as a way of drastically reducing staff turnover, and therefore orientation and onboarding costs. But other studies show the connection between online learning and productivity.

According to a study conducted by IBM, companies that use eLearning have the potential to boost productivity by 50 per cent. The report suggests that for every dollar a company spends, it can expect $30 worth of productivity.

5. An investment with ongoing returns

eLearning is the investment that keeps on teaching and providing returns. As new staff access the material, more data can be collected on outcomes and content performance, which can then be fed back into your strategy and organisational goals. Effectively deployed, your initial investment in online learning should begin to show dividends with increased staff satisfaction, higher retention rates, and greater productivity.

Online content is also more flexible than other collateral, as edits can be made retrospectively. This adaptability is essential to any business looking to futureproof its budgets.

But remember, the bottom line isnt the end of it

As eLearning begins to take off, advocates will need to demonstrate results. While ROI is important, especially when making a business case, it’s important to not only rely on the immediate financial outcomes. The overall objectives and values of your company should be an important factor when putting together your eLearning proposal – consider the ways that online education can imitate change, foster growth, and boost innovation in ways traditional training can’t. Then consider the bottom line.


If you’re considering eLearning program options, we’ve already done some of the research for you. Download the Beginners guide to eLearning systems: Change management and capital investment now.