Summary: Before you can put your Corporate University assessments and resources into action, you must obtain buy-in from your organization’s executive team – or the executive who controls funding. Since getting and maintaining funding is difficult for training, let’s look at how to present your case.

You’ve taken quite a bit of time and effort to assess your organization’s learning needs across the board as well as make estimates of your resource needs. For you, it’s a highly detailed picture of what to expect as you build your University. But you can’t present your view to the executives and expect to get their buy-in. Instead, you must put your business case together in “executive-ese”, that is, drill down to the specifics of how the University is going to positively impact the organization as a whole.

You’ve determined what needs to be trained and have probably decided how that needs to be trained. The question your executive team will have is, “why,” and your answer must tie into the overall strategy and mission of the organization. First, take the hard data you’ve gained from your assessment and lay it out in general terms. For example, you can say that regular customer service surveys show that clients are not as satisfied as they could be with the organization’s service. You can say that sales are great, but there are definite ways to improve them, from X percent to X percent. When you put this in strategic terms, you can estimate that by teaching every customer-facing associate the ins and outs of how to deliver a top-notch experience, the organization’s customer service numbers will improve by X percent. In relation to new hire training, you can report that the organization hires X number of people per month, spends X amount to train them, and will spend X time and money to replace them if they leave. Along with this, you can report that the training program will address X out of X issues reported by supervisors and managers within X days of hire – and thus save the organization X amount of time and money. This is obviously a quick glance through setting up the numbers.

When you get to your business case, attack each area of your proposal with strategic implications – talk about how each course or competency area can impact strategy and overall business. If the University’s plan is to train all customer service associates on the proper form for each experience, you can link that directly to the organization’s customer service mission. And if training can improve the customer service experience, it stands to reason that the training can impact the organization’s overall image. If the help desk presently spends a certain amount of time on certain technical issues, make the link between “quick reference guides” and the ability to focus the help desk on more important issues. Your business case must not leave any part of the University’s proposed courses in “limbo”. Each one must have a specific purpose and link to the overall strategy.

As with any business case, especially at executive levels, think about presenting information in the most efficient, least wordy fashion. Don’t go into great detail unless you’re asked – training departments sometimes get the reputation of being “out of touch” with the rest of the organization, so your sharp, to-the-point Corporate University presentation will show that this training area will be in touch.

When you put your presentation together, focus on how the University, after the initial expense, can save money or time in every strategic area. In addition, focus on how the University can improve efficiency both in what is being trained and how it’s being trained. For example, online learning is one of the most cost-efficient methods to deliver knowledge training that doesn’t necessarily need a human interaction element – show that in your presentation. If you can, think about how the University can create a dollar impact by helping the organization meet its goals – again, it can be an estimate but it will put the dollar figures into the heads of the people with the purse strings.

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