Creating an effective governance framework for digital learning

A white paper from SumTotal Systems highlights the core components of an effective learning shared service governance model.
By: | October 13, 2021

Mature organisations that align on control processes such as governance, gain a stronger handle on decision-making, forward-looking planning, resourcing, and cost, according to SumTotal Systems.

In a white paper titled, A Governance Framework for Learning, SumTotal provided an overview of the core components of an effective learning shared service governance model and practical steps organisations can take to put this gear in motion.

Shared service governance is essentially about the right people in an organisation working together to make collective decisions on how to drive maximum organisational and line of business (LOB) value from the service, SumTotal explained.

Organisations must lay out a plan for the future, secure buy-in for their shared service and develop their vision with input from key executives and all LOBs. The service’s mission and strategy must represent a common vision of all constituents and carefully align with the business’s overarching strategic goals.

Communication with executives and LOBs is critical for learning shared service success, and must be formal, frequent, and two-way. A common mistake organisations make, SumTotal identified, is to wrongly assume that executives recognise the service’s value and LOBs remain bought in and satisfied. To avoid this, develop a formalised plan for two-way communication.

A learning shared service must also satisfy the needs of stakeholders, namely executive leadership and LOB leaders. To do this, organisations need to create a formal steering committee that includes key stakeholders. This governing body should meet regularly to help set and update the programme’s direction and collectively make strategic and operational decisions. This ensures all stakeholders’ voices are heard, and they feel a sense of ownership.

Next, develop operational standards to ensure the day-to-day operation of the learning shared service. These standards define how teams respond to and manage requests from LOBs while balancing growth and value creation activities, as defined within an organisation’s strategic roadmap. How organisations manage requests, prioritise, and balance strategic versus operational work is critical, said SumTotal.

Forming a close partnership and staying in frequent contact with learning management system (LMS) vendors is important to ensure roadmap alignment and maximise the return on software investment, SumTotal continued. Since many SaaS-based vendors have multiple updates each year, staying aware of functional changes is important, and, without close communication, can be difficult.

To ensure an effective partnership, coordinate quarterly reviews with LMS vendors to align on business objectives, technology changes, and address challenges that need to be explored.

To prevent atrophy, the performance of an organisation’s learning shared service should be routinely measured, and improvements made based on the results. These results, along with the concrete improvement actions, should be made public. Transparency is critical as it gives organisations and their stakeholders visibility into what is working and what needs to be improved.

Lastly, establishing a learning shared service requires careful evaluation of resource need. Since a shared service team will be responsible for both strategic work and operational requests from LOBs, having the capacity to balance multiple workstreams is essential. If the workload outweighs capacity, work teams will underserve either operational or strategic needs.

Organisations must either increase capacity or reduce work by enhancing productivity or efficiency, slowing timelines, or delegating more responsibility to LOBs, SumTotal concluded.

Click here for more insights into how your organsiation can get started on building a successful governance model for learning.