Define the Current State of Training
Begin your business-case document by defining the current state of training. Start with your research. What did you learn about the needs of the business units through your interviews, retrieval of historical data, and use of surveys and focus groups? The themes that drew you to your objectives are repurposed in your business case. They are the salient points that will capture the attention of your audience. Paint a picture of where you are today and where you need to be.
At a high level, share your research findings, highlighting facts that underscore the waste or failure of the present situation. Talk about the money being spent on training now and the performance results, if any, received for those dollars. Dissect the budget ”show your audience where the money goes, focusing on the limited or lost return on the investment.
Set the baseline. A baseline is how much money the company is spending now and what they are getting for it. The cost of lost productivity resulting from time spent in training is a metric that typically isn't shown to executives, and it should be identified as the primary cost of training.
The presentation should stick to enterprise-level data, but it's important that you provide budget details somewhere in the document and that you be able to discuss them easily if your audience asks for specifics. All of your budget formulas should be included at the end of the document for the audience's optional perusal. Also remember to have all your figures validated by your finance department before you present to executive management. This provides additional credibility to your plan.
In the front of the business case we crafted for Project Oasis, we included several pages of images highlighting the statistics we had uncovered in our research of the learning culture at Rockwell Collins. Our section on the current learning environment included, for example:
Graphics showing that only 40 percent of the population was located in Cedar Rapids while 100 percent of the training occurred there
Vital focus- group findings, such as that 65 percent of the cost of training is employees ' time; that on average, 28 percent of registered trainees are no-shows; and that Rockwell Collins's training department has no common design standards
Bar graphs showing the number of hours of training that various employee groups received per year, comparing job types, locations, and years of employment
Pie graphs showing employees' readiness (gleaned from our surveys) for alternative learning
Training expenditures for the previous two years broken down into labor and material costs
Pie graphs showing existing computer accessibility for employees
Graphs showing the environmental factors influencing learning, including 38 percent cancellation rates and the fact that 92 percent of employees were unable to attend scheduled training three times because of work demands
The five reasons why we expect Rockwell Collins's employees to embrace and use e-learning: availability, convenience, flexibility, diversity, and demand
These graphics gave our audience a quick, high-level view of what was wrong with the existing environment and what changes the employees were ready and willing to make in order to improve those conditions. It didn't delve into minute detail, but it gave executives the information they needed to understand the problems they were facing .
Remember to talk in the business language of the executive or audience to which you are pitching. Recall your interviews with these executives and tie their needs into your delivery. Show them how your plan will meet their specific needs as well as the enterprise needs.
We ended this section with a spreadsheet outlining the baseline costs associated with training projected out four years. We compared those costs to the costs associated with our proposed change and included the total savings expected post-implementation . It was the grand finale of graphics, delivering the dollar value payoff to the company if management supported our plan. This baseline chart was easy to understand and showed, in just enough detail, how our team could save the company more than $20 million over four years. If we were challenged to prove our $20 million figure ”and we were, several times ”we had the details to back up our claim.