VitalSmarts’ Impact Cloud Measurement Tool Aims to “Connect Training to Results”

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Periodically, this blog has focused on company product releases or announcements that I think is interesting and noteworthy, and which I try to give a brief overview of the product news, and follow up with a senior company official to get some more insight into the larger picture.

Last month, VitalSmarts, a Provo, Utah-based innovator in corporate training and organizational performance, released Impact Cloud, a customizable and free online measuring tool . It collects both qualitative and quantitative data which helps clients visualize the ultimate impact of their employee training methods and initiatives on the outcomes of their business. The company claims that training managers can now make a clearer estimate of the results of their training processes in connection with cost control, employee engagement, quality, productivity, teamwork and safety.

The Impact Cloud uses an assessment consisting of five questions that’s administered to participants after attending a VitalSmarts course. This tool captures a broad range of results that employees achieve as they apply the skills learned in training.

The noteworthy benefit and features of Impact Cloud are as follows:

– It adequately demonstrates the impact of training on the bottom line figures and results.

– The tool can be customized to suit the assessment needs and requirements of specific organizations and users.

– Impact Cloud aids in the generation of an interactive, visual as well as a sharable tool.

– It accumulates detailed inputs and stories from employees and shows how their newly acquired skill is being utilized in the organization.

– The questions served by Impact Cloud helps in comparing the results of various management levels and different departments on the areas of impact.

– It is simple to administer and can be done online. The results of the questionnaire can be aggregated for specific users. Impact Cloud is free for use for all VitalSmarts training clients.

I had a chance to connect with David Maxfield, VP Research at VitalSmarts, to follow up a bit more on the significance of the Impact Cloud:

Training Station: One of the most difficult questions that training officers within organizations face is measuring ROI – how much did their investment in training improve employee and team performance.  In what way can the Impact Cloud help address this?

David Maxfield: The Impact Cloud is a free, customizable, online tool that collects qualitative and quantitative data to measure the impact of an organization’s training investment on key behavioral and business outcomes. The tool allows you to quickly see how participants are putting the skills to work and how effective the skills are in addressing concerns, such as quality, productivity, customer experience, safety, etc.

As you collect dozens or even hundreds of stories from participants, the Impact Cloud automatically calculates a wide variety of overall metrics—all focused on the impact participants have as they use the skills. For example, you can see whether participants are using the skills with peers, managers, customers, etc. and the impact they are achieving.

Many of the ROI studies I read are too complicated and too full of jargon to take to a senior leader. The Impact Cloud makes complex data clear, by visualizing results and using actual quotes from participants.

TS: There has been a lot written about the necessity of making the knowledge learned in training sessions practical and directly applicable to employee tasks. Not something theoretical. Impact Cloud seems to be a tool to address this?  What was the driving motivation and vision behind the product?

DM: Our goal is to connect training to results in as clear a way as possible, using visuals and participants’ own words.  The Impact Cloud captures the wide range of ways participants put new skills to work.

Instead of evaluating a single application of the skills and giving the training a pass or fail, the Impact Cloud allows participants to describe how they are using the training skills in specific situations. The visual summaries combine these stories to show the overall impact of the training.

These visual summaries highlight common and effective uses as well as missed opportunities and failed applications. Trainers can use this feedback to build on strengths and adjust for weaknesses.

TS: How does Impact Cloud take into account the increasingly popular blended learning strategies.  That is, combining initial training classroom sessions with continued learning options, e-learning, learning via social media, webinars, etc?  Is there a way that it is able to adapt to consistently update and reevaluate training impact and employee progress?

DM: Training no longer ends when a workshop is over, so it is important that assessment tools respond to the ongoing learning that is taking place. The Impact Cloud is ideal for this kind of application because it can track changes in applications over time.

For example, suppose the initial goal of training was to improve peer-to-peer accountability. The Impact Cloud would track whether participants were actually using the skills with peers, whether they were dealing with accountability issues, and whether they were successful.

Then suppose that a new goal is added: using the skills with customers to prevent scope creep. The Impact Cloud will again track whether participants are actually using the skills with customers, whether they are dealing with scope-creep issues, and whether they are successful.

The results quickly show gaps in any of three areas: the people they are using the skills with, the challenges they are using the skills to address, and the effectiveness of the application. When these gaps are identified, they can be addressed through a variety of blended options.


Jason Silberman
Jason is the former Lead Author & Editor of TrainingStation Blog
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