8 tips for creating a successful evaluation strategy

#4 in our training evaluation blog post series:

In this tight economy, organizations want to know that they’re getting their money’s worth wherever it’s spent – and training is no exception. But when it comes to training, many organizations are unable to clearly identify what they are getting in return for their dollars. Research shows Levels 4 (Results) and 5 (ROI) are the two training evaluation levels least integrated into organizations, and yet they can provide the greatest value, as they measure the impact that learning has on the business and determine the return on investment.

So how do you get your company headed in the right direction and where do you start the evaluation process? A good first step is to create an overall evaluation strategy for training. Use it as a roadmap to help you stay focused on the big picture while implementing the details. When creating a strategy for your organization, consider the following tips:

  1. Flip the Kirkpatrick evaluation model upside down and start with Level 4 evaluation (Results). Identify key corporate goals and strategies and determine how training aligns with them. Identify stakeholder expectations. What are they looking to achieve as a result of training? This information will drive your evaluation strategy.
  2. Get buy-in from the top and commitment from appropriate stakeholders.
    • What strategies can you put into place to "sell" senior leaders and stakeholders on the benefits that evaluation will have to the organization?
    • What senior leaders and stakeholders could be strong champions providing support and commitment?
  3. Determine who owns the evaluation process.
  4. Identify what training course(s)/program(s) will be evaluated and at what levels. For each course or program, answer the question, "Is there a strong business need for this training?"
  5. Identify how each level of evaluation will be measured. What tools will be used to gather the information needed for your evaluation strategy?
  6. Determine what resources will be required for each level of evaluation. Levels 1 and 2 can be directly controlled and managed by a training team while participation, time and resources will be required from employees, managers, senior leaders, stakeholders and business partners for levels 3, 4 and 5. Are they willing and able to provide it?
  7. Identify challenges and risks for each evaluation level.
  8. Talk to other departments to determine what information is currently being tracked in your organization that can be used for levels 4 and 5 evaluation.  Don't reinvent the wheel. Use what's available then figure out if you need to fill gaps with further information.

Evaluation doesn’t need to be complicated. There are a number of fairly simple ways to implement evaluation in your organization that can provide a lot of value. Start by creating your evaluation strategy then stay tuned here for future tips and ideas that will help you implement evaluation successfully in your organization.

Be sure to check out our other evaluation blog post in this series:


Our favourite training evaluation resources

 #2 in our training evaluation blog post series:

Just do a Google search for “training evaluation” and you’ll find over 11,000 websites and articles at your fingertips. But you probably don’t have the time to sort through all the information to find what you need. Here at Limestone we’ve run into the same challenges so over time, we’ve created a “favourite” list of evaluation resources that we’d like to share with you:

Evaluation websites/blogs/discussion groups

  • www.kirkpatrickpartners.com  Registration is free. Includes access to a weekly newsletter, white papers and articles, free podcasts and webinars, a quick tips podcast series, certification training and other evaluation resources.
  • www.greatleadershipbydan.com  An interesting blog post on training evaluation.
  • www.roiinstitute.net  Good information on level 5 ROI created by respected author Dr. Jack Phillips.  Includes access to learning opportunities, webcasts and audio conferences, podcasts, articles and tools.
  • www.bdld.blogspot.com  Thoughts on instructional design and performance including training evaluation.
  • www.astd.org  We highly recommend becoming a member. There are extensive high-quality resources available for both evaluation and T&D in general, and great member discounts apply on courses and publications. Some of the offerings for evaluation include white papers and articles, best practice research and discussion groups.        
  • Kirkpatrick Evaluation group on Linkedin.  Some thought-provoking discussion threads on evaluation.       
  • www.evaluatetraining.com/blog  A lot of great evaluation blog posts.       

Books/reference material

  • Evaluating Training Programs: The Four Levels, Donald Kirkpatrick (the original publication of Kirkpatrick’s 4 levels of evaluation – a “must” read)
  • Kirkpatrick Then and Now, Jim and Wendy Kirkpatrick, Kirkpatrick Institute (the 4 levels updated with new strategies and tools)
  • The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning, Calhoun Wick, Roy Pollock, and Andrew Jefferson (excellent practical guidelines, ideas and examples on measuring learning from a business results perspective)
  • ASTD Handbook of Measuring and Evaluating Training, Patricia Phillips (a great, practical book on learning evaluation)
  • ASTD InfoLine issues on a variety of level 1 – 5 topics (an excellent choice of topics)
  • ROI in Action casebook, Patricia Pulliam Phillips

Higher learning

 Be sure to check out our first evaluation blog post in this series: