Many company training sessions begin with an initiation to familiarize the new hire with company policies and procedures. Training also serves to acquaint staff with internal productivity applications and technologies. Departmental training may educate staff in customer service or sales techniques. Externally, online training can save a company money by training customers to use 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 when training customers or remote employees. Calculating the savings on travel and accommodations can be done soon after the online training has been deployed, since the benefit is immediate. This calculation involves comparing a baseline, pre-online training figure with post-online training expenditures. In most cases, the savings are significant.
At first glance, it appears that online training also eliminates the cost of a live trainer, but this is not always the case. The most effective online training sessions are live and interactive, and require an on-site live trainer to broadcast the session remotely. Ideally, the trainer is also available after the session at regular intervals to follow up and answer questions from trainees. The cost savings come from minimizing the need for additional live sessions 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.
The savings must be balanced against the cost of the web conferencing infrastructure to arrive at a net figure. For an organization with many training requirements, an on-premise system may be more desirable, but this will call for a larger up-front capital expenditure for equipment and 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. Smaller companies may need a bandwidth upgrade to accommodate the video traffic.
Despite the expenses of the web conferencing infrastructure, online training is sure to deliver a cost advantage both directly and indirectly. The direct advantage is a strict numeric calculation as described above, and the indirect advantage is that developing an online training curriculum is likely to encourage more employees to participate in ongoing training and take advantage of archived sessions, creating a more educated and more productive staff.