How Much Can my Company Save by Training Online?

Most companies do require some level of training. The most common is the beginning employee initiation, which acquaints the new hire with company policies and procedures; training also serves to acquaint staff with internal productivity applications and technologies. Departmental training may also educate staff in areas such as customer service or sales techniques.

Externally, online training can save a company big money as well by offering customers training on a product through an online venue.

The actual return on investment (ROI) is a complex calculation, but there are several areas where savings can occur. Most obviously, online training eliminates the need for travel and off-site stays, especially when it is necessary to provide training to customers or off-site employees. Calculating the savings on travel and accommodations is an easy piece of mathematics, and can be done fairly soon after the online training has been deployed since the benefit is immediate. This simply involves comparing a baseline, pre-online training figure with post-online training expenditures. In most cases, the savings can be very significant.

At first glance, one may think that online training would also eliminate the cost for a live trainer, but this is not always the case. The most effective online training sessions are live and interactive, and still require the live trainer to be on-site to broadcast the session remotely. Ideally, the trainer would also be available after the session at regular intervals, to answer questions from trainees and follow up. The cost savings comes not from eliminating the live trainer, but from minimizing the need for additional live sessions later on that duplicate the same content. Since most web conferencing software packages include a facility for recording sessions, live online training can be recorded and archived to create an on-demand library for future use, thereby decreasing the overall number of live sessions that are needed.

The savings must be balanced against the cost of the web conferencing infrastructure to arrive at a net figure, however. For an organization with heavy training requirements, an on-premises system may be more desirable, but this will call for a larger, up-front capital expenditure for equipment, as well as cost for licensing. The requisite web conferencing software may be available with a concurrent license which allows a given number of users at any one time, rather than having to license every potential user individually. Nonetheless, in a large enterprise, the cost can be significant. For smaller companies, there may also be a need for a bandwidth upgrade to accommodate the video traffic.

Even after netting out the expenses of the web conferencing infrastructure however, online training is sure to deliver a cost advantage, both directly and indirectly. The direct advantage is a strict numeric calculation as described above. However, there is also an indirect advantage in that developing an online training curriculum is likely to encourage more employees to participate in ongoing training, and to take advantage of archived sessions, so as to create a more educated staff which is ultimately more productive.

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