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SAP have recently launched SAP Assessment Management by Questionmark, technology that lets you create, deliver and report on online assessments: quizzes, tests, surveys and exams. In this article, the first of a series on business benefits of online assessments in compliance, I’ll share some advice on how you can make a business case for using assessments to allow competent employees to  “test out” of compliance training.

What does testing out of training mean?

"Testing out"  is when someone who is required to undergo some training instead takes a test to see if they know the material already. If they pass the test, they skip the training, as shown in the diagram below.

If employees already know something well, then training them in it again is a waste of resources and motivation. By forcing people to attend training they feel is unnecessary, you reduce the credibility of your whole compliance initiative. People feel that you are just crossing a task off your list, not really caring about what matters to them and the business. And it devalues other compliance training as well.

You need to check your regulator's business rules, but most regulators will allow people to test out of compliance training in this way. For instance, an article in ABA Bank Compliance magazine quotes 3 US financial regulators including the FDIC as confirming it makes sense.

Using SAP Assessment Management by Questionmark, you can create and deliver such tests either independently or when integrated with SAP Learning Solution or with SuccessFactors Learning.

What are good practices for testing out?

It’s important that you build the tests following good practice so that someone who passes the test does understand the topics covered. As well as following general good practice for assessments, here are five specific tips for these kinds of diagnostic tests:

  1. Make it optional, if someone doesn’t want to take the test, they shouldn’t have to.
  2. Only allow a single attempt at the test. If they fail the test, they must do the training.
  3. Tell people that if they don’t know the answers to questions, they can skip them or finish the test early. There is no penalty for doing badly on the test – it just shows you should do the training.
  4. Blueprint the test against the training course or curriculum to make sure that the test does cover the material properly.
  5. Make the test as least as hard as any end of course assessment. If someone passes the test but doesn’t know the material, that’s more concerning than if someone fails and has to take the training again, so set the pass score with that in mind.

How do you make a business case internally?

Here is an example management report you could prepare to illustrate the benefit of testing out of training. This framework is inspired by a Questionmark customer who uses a similar approach to justify this kind of testing.

Management Report Example
A) Number of people1,000
B) Time for training if no testing (2 hours each)2,000 hours
C) Time to take test (20 minutes / test)333 hours
D) 25% pass test and skip training
E) 75% do compliance training1,500 hours
F) Hours of training avoided (B - C - E)177 hours
G) Average cost / hour$100
H) Money saved (F * G)$17,700

In this example, a company has 1,000 employees who need to take a 2 hour training course, which would take 2,000 hours of employee time. If instead, each employee takes a 20 minute test, and 25% can then skip the training, the number of hours taken is 333 (for the test) plus 1,500 for the training. So the company saves 177 hours. You can then convert this into money saved by looking at your internal cost of time; in the example if it's $100, and the amount saved is $17,700.

You can adapt this model to justify testing out of training and make the case internally. In some organizations, other factors to take into account will be the cost of training/trainers and of travel to the training.

Summary of business benefits

I hope these ideas are useful to you in progressing testing out of training within your organization. The key benefits for a business of using online assessments to allow people to test out of training are:

  • It saves time and money by allowing expensive people to forego unneeded training
  • It makes compliance training more valid and respected, and so more likely to impact behaviour, because it focuses training on the people who need it.

You can see the second post in this series "How do you know your workforce knows?" here.