How to build a business case for e-learning

Marlene Liontis

Marlene Liontis is a member of the professional team of accredited consultants at eWorks. With a strong background in both learning and development (L&D) and e-learning, she knows a thing or two about building a business case to combine the two. What at first can seem like a daunting task can be as simple as 1, 2 and a few more.

Are all of your bases covered?

Earlier this month we learned how to overcome resistance to e-learning by creating effective online courses. But what if management simply doesn’t believe that an online approach to training will save let alone make money? That’s when a good business case is crucial. If you have been given this task and feel a little overwhelmed by it, here are a few tips to make sure that you have all of your bases covered:

  1. Make a strong case. Link your desired training programmes and the objectives directly to business results (the bottom line).
  2. Explain how it all works: a delivery platform (LMS) plus content = success!
  3. Summarise the available online content options such as designing your own, paying an instructional designer and purchasing established courses.
  4. Define the categories of costs of digital delivery and how they differ from using established methods. What will the future of these costs be?
  5. Define the reasons and goals for the training, then determine costs and expected return on these costs. Some questions you might like to ask include:
  • Why are we deploying the training?
  • What skills do we want to instil?
  • How much will the e-learning cost?
  • How will it increase productivity and translate into dollar terms?


Credit: ROI by Simon Cunningham

  1. Point out that the training is an investment in your organisation’s human capital – it is not just an expense. Time and money savings will include:
  • fewer recruitment costs – less hiring of more qualified staff
  • increased productivity as a result of having more skilled staff
  • better customer/client outcomes = more revenue!
  1. Highlight the metrics that are available such as the number of staff undertaking training, the number of completed courses and reports to auditor for compliance purposes. (Note: eWork’s TVC delivery platform has comprehensive built-in metrics and reporting).
  2. Check your existing business metrics and compare them before and after the training. In other words do a beta test with select staff for your business case to measure the impact of the online courses. Any operation and function that is improved by the training and has available metrics can be compared, offering concrete evidence to support the value of digital delivery.
  3. Measure return on investment (ROI) in direct profits. Using your beta test group highlight any increase in profitability that can be directly attributed to the training.
  4. Find out what your competition is doing in relation to staff training. Chances are they – like most organisations – are deploying e-learning. And if they are not already, they will be soon. Don’t forget to mention that in your business case.

Still stuck? Feel free to contact Marlene for a little help with your business case. And once you have convinced your managers, eWorks can you get online.