Case studies of ROI evaluations and valuable lessons

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Written by Martin-Christian Kent on 16 July 2014

Having now written a number of blogs on training evaluation, I thought it would be a good idea to highlight the key points to remember when conducting an evaluation:

  1. Plan early and thoroughly
  2. Involve stakeholders throughout the process
  3. Use robust and credible methods
  4. Consider the balance between efficiency and effectiveness
  5. Don’t forget the importance of intangible benefits
  6. Communicate your results

Remember, when deciding to proceed with an evaluation, some programmes are more suitable than others. The evaluation process can be time consuming and therefore costly, so it is important to select the right programme to investigate. Jack Phillips, the creator of the five step evaluation process, recommends only evaluating programmes that:

  • Have a long life cycle
  • Are highly important to the organisation
  • Are closely linked to strategic objectives
  • Are expensive
  • Are highly visible or controversial
  • Have a large target audience
  • Attract the interest of top executives

He also suggests that evaluation may not be suitable for programmes that are:

  • Very short
  • A legislative requirement
  • Required by senior management
  • Technical to ensure staff know how to do their job correctly

There are numerous training evaluation case studies available online for free, which can provide useful insights into the variety of methods that can be used to evaluate training. However, remember to always view case studies with a critical eye as occasionally less than robust methods are used. Having done a fair amount of investigation, we would recommend taking a look at some of the following, as they provide insights into what works and what doesn’t for different training programmes and businesses:

If you are looking for more in-depth advice about how to proceed at each stage of the evaluation, Phillips’ book ‘Return on Investment in Training and Performance Improvement Programs’ and ‘Evaluating Human Capital Projects’ by Massy and Harrison provide useful advice. They also include real world case studies to demonstrate best practise in terms of training and training evaluation.

If you are interested in pursuing training evaluation, would like to join our free advice network, or have any questions on anything I’ve mentioned so far, please contact


About the author
Martin-Christian Kent is research and policy director at People 1st. He can be contacted via

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