E-learning for external audiences, applied to the right business problem in the right way, can deliver enormous efficiency and effectiveness gains to an organization. But how do you justify the investment and ensure that learning is aligned with business goals?

In this document, we’ll look at e-learning from a business manager’s perspective, describe some of the ways it can improve your bottom line and build a compelling business case reaching out to your external audiences including customers, partners, channel or distributor networks, independent agents, suppliers, franchises/franchisees, association members, contractors or volunteers.

The Business Advantages of E-Learning
Classroom-based (instructor-led) training is still an effective way to teach new skills, particularly those subject areas that involve changes in behavior or complex concepts. But it comes at a high cost in terms of training charges, travel and lodging expenses, and lost work time. And the transition from theory to application in the workplace is still not guaranteed.

E-learning engages the end user with interactive material, testing and motivation. Web 2.0 learning strategies further adds human support and interaction between students and instructors through text chat technology, social learning, collaboration and Web casting, thereby extending the scope of what can be effectively taught into many new subject areas. In addition, more supporting material can be made available by capitalizing on the ease with which an e-learning system can link to other resources, multimedia,
documents and systems.

E-learning for external audiences can also offer organizations the opportunity to:

The growth in Internet-delivered learning is driven by both compelling economics and the potential for more effective education and knowledge management. The Internet reduces the cost of learning, both direct and indirect, and increases its relevance and retention. In addition, it enables learning programs to be customized and tailored for individual audiences and facilitates knowledge management by providing the means to collect and re-deploy knowledge more efficiently and consistently. Whereas customers, partners, suppliers, independent agents or association members once had to congregate in one location to receive learning, sometimes flying in from around the country or even the world, learning can now come to them online and on-demand.

However, convincing your senior management team to adopt and implement an e-learning system to address business initiatives will require a clearly defined business case. Developing a laundry list of potential benefits is only the beginning. You must then apply them to your particular business situation. A business case will offer a clear statement of the business problem(s) and your proposed solution(s), as well as provide measurements of success. In essence, it describes your organization’s current status versus the desired status, and how the organization can achieve its goals.

Aligning E-Learning with External Audiences, Business Goals & Measuring Results
The target audience for your extended enterprise e-learning business case will most likely be comprised of both sales and service influencers—the decision makers who manage the acquisition of customers/revenue (and the servicing of those accounts) and senior executives—the people who will ultimately give your proposal the business and financial support it needs to succeed. Consequently, it is important that your business case be aligned with their goals and “points of pain.” A well-formulated business case will support the planning and decision making processes of these two groups.

This whitepaper looks at e-learning from a business manager’s perspective, describes how e-Learning can improve your bottom line and describes how e-Learning can build a compelling business case reaching out to your external audiences including customers, partners, channel or distributor networks, independent agents, suppliers, franchises/franchisees, association members, contractors or volunteers.

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