Integrating CRM and ERP-Data into the Evaluation Process of the Kirkpatrick Model

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I would like to start this post with a quote from the official Kirkpatrick website :

Given the current economic climate in which all expenditures are being carefully monitored, there is not better time to use the four levels to create, deliver, measure and validate training that has true organizational value…

No more “smile sheets, pre- and post-tests and hope for the best.” It is time to drive and leverage training and post-training support and accountability to maximize performance and results. It it time to be strategic business partners. Failing to do so will likely lead to our replacement by YouTube, apps, and avatars.

The Kirkpatrick Model is about evaluating training programs. For everybody who needs a little refreshment on the model, please follow the link to the Kirckpatrick website or read the following summary:

1.) Reaction The degree to which participants find the training favorable, engaging and relevant to their jobs
2.) LearningThe degree to which participants acquire the intended knowledge, skills, attitude, confidence and commitment based on their participation in the training
3.) BehaviorThe degree to which participants apply what they learned during training when they are back on the job
4.) ResultsThe degree to which targeted outcomes occur as a result of the training

Usually level 1 and 2 are being monitored by the training department. Happy sheets and tests do a good job in evaluating reaction and learning outcomes.

Level 3 and 4 seem to be more difficult. We discussed evaluation methods during a trainer’s conference. We agreed that it is not so easy to measure level 4 results (even though it is possible, according to Kirkpatrick. Read more about the ROE, the Return On Expectations, here).

The point I am trying to make in this post is, that there are very good ways of measuring level 3 and 4 results. It is just a matter of connecting data from three different databases: LMS, CRM and ERP. I ran the following analysis after a global new product online training. Details of the chart were explained in a previous post:

The above chart shows the triggered effects of an online product training as they became visible in a CRM and ERP system. I was in the lucky position that I introduced both the CRM system and the LMS in our global organization by myself and knew where to find the data in our ERP system, too, due to my manager’s job in our export department. A very unique situation, but that’s the reason why I am sharing this post with you.

The secret is, that the product you have trained needs to be linked to sales activities. Sales activities can be phone calls, sales calls (visits) and follow-up activities such as provided samples, relating brochures that have been sent out, offer (quotes) and, last but not least, orders. Getting orders and increasing turnover should be the only reason why a training department sets up product trainings – at least in a for-profit organization.

The Kirkpatrick Model is the theoretical back-up of my practical experience as shown above. I extended the model by adding when, where and how to generate the data for the 4 evaluation levels:

Why did I mention that the analysis of the behavior (level 3) and results (level 4) should start one month after the training? According to my experience salespeople immediately jump on a new product, presupposed the training was good and they feel comfortable with the new product (this is what level 1 and 2 are for and what should have been measured there).

If the evaluation results of level 1 and 2 where good and there are no behavioral changes visible in a CRM system (level 3), it can have only one of the following reasons:

  • a local manager stopped or postponed any sales activities (and there can be good reasons for doing so, for example, the new product will be introduced during a local trade show a couple months later).
  • a local manager planed in addition a physical workshop during one of his next sales meetings.

It is good to set up a simple reporting for level 3 and 4 in order to start a dialogue with local sales management. A dialogue helps to avoid irritations, but at the same time it is a good opportunity to refresh expectations what should happen on the sales side after an online training has been completed.

This kind of dialogue works only if a training organization is strategically integrated into a business unit and has to deliver defined services for the sales organization.

Coming back to the initial quote that I took from the official Kirkpatrick website:

Your training department will never be on trial or replaced by YouTube or apps, if you are able to show positive evidence for the Kirkpatrick evaluation levels ‘behavior’ and ‘results’.

Looking very much forward to your comments and your own experiences.


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