9 trends in compliance learning, training and assessment

John Kleeman HeadshotThis version is a re-post of a popular blog by John Kleeman

Where is the world of compliance training, learning and assessment going?

I’ve collaborated recently with two SAP experts, Thomas Jenewein of SAP and Simone Buchwald of EPI-USE, to write a white paper on “How to do it right – Learning, Training and Assessments in Regulatory Compliance[Free with registration]. In it, we suggested 9 key trends in the area. Here is a summary of the trends we see:

1. Increasing interest in predictive or forward-looking measures

Many compliance measures (for example, results of internal audits or training completion rates) are backwards looking. They tell you what happened in the past but don’t tell you about the problems to come. Companies can see clearly what is in their rear-view mirror, but the picture ahead of them is rainy and unclear. There are a lot of ways to use learning and assessment data to predict and look forward, and this is a key way to add business value.

2. Monitoring employee compliance with policies

A recent survey of chief compliance officers suggested that their biggest operational issue is monitoring employee compliance with policies, with over half of organizations raising this as a concern. An increasing focus for many companies is going to be how they can use training and assessments to check understanding of policies and to monitor compliance.

3. Increasing use of observational assessments

Picture of observational assessment on smartphoneWe expect growing use of observational assessments to help confirm that employees are following policies and procedures and to help assess practical skills. Readers of this blog will no doubt be familiar with the concept. If not, see Observational Assessments—why and how.

4. Compliance training conducted on mobile devices

The world is moving to mobile devices and this of course includes compliance training and assessment.

5. Informal learning

You would be surprised not to see informal learning in our list of trends. Increasingly we are all understanding that formal learning is the tip of the iceberg and that most learning is informal and often on the job.

6. Learning in the extended enterprise

Organizations are becoming more interlinked, and another important trend is the expansion of learning to the extended enterprise, such as contractors or partners. Whether for data security, product knowledge, anti-bribery or a host of other regulatory compliance reasons, it’s becoming crucial to be able to deliver learning and to assess not only your employees but those of other organizations who work closely with you.

7. Cloud

There is a steady movement towards the cloud and SaaS for compliance learning, training, and assessment – with the huge advantage of delegating all of the IT to an outside party being the strongest compelling factor.  Especially for compliance functions, the cloud offers a very flexible way to manage learning and assessment without requiring complex integrations or alignments with a company’s training departments or related functions.

8. Changing workforce needs

The workforce is constantly changing, and many “digital natives” are now joining organizations. To meet the needs of such workers, we’re increasingly seeing “gamification” in compliance training to help motivate and connect with employees. And the entire workforce is now accustomed to seeing high-quality user interfaces in consumer Web sites and expects the same in their corporate systems.

9. Big Data

E-learning and assessments are a unique way of touching all your employees. There is huge potential in using analytics based on learning and assessment data. We have the potential to combine Big Data available from valid and reliable learning assessments with data from finance, sales, and HR sources.  See for example the illustration below from SAP BusinessObjects showing assessment data graphed against performance data as an illustration of what can be done.

data exported using OData from Questionmark into SAP BusinessObjects

For information on these trends, see the white paper written with SAP and EPI-USE: “How to do it right – Learning, Training and Assessments in Regulatory Compliance”, available free to download with registration.

If you have other suggestions for trends, feel free to contribute them below.

Save Time by Testing Out of Compliance Training?

Posted by John Kleeman

There is nothing worse for an employee than attending a compliance training session about material they already know. (Or at least sometimes it feels that way!)

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.

Diagnostic tests can provide a way of identifying what employees know or don’t know, and so allows employees to “test out” of training that they do not need to take. So for example, if a training course covers three topics, then some employees may be able to show– by passing a test — that they already know one or more topics and can skip part or all of the training.

Questionmark Perception screenshot

You’ll need to check your regulations to confirm that this is permissible for you, but most regulators will see sense here. For instance, an American Banker’s Association Bank Compliance magazine article mentions various US financial regulators who regard testing out to be acceptable:

“Is testing out considered an acceptable alternative to compliance training? The OTS said yes, testing out is acceptable. The OCC agreed, provided the testing program is well structured. However, exceptions may exist for required training such as the Bank Secrecy Act. The FDIC also agreed, commenting that a well-planned, -implemented, and -maintained compliance training program will prevent or reduce regulatory violations, will provide cost efficiencies, and is a sound business practice.”

Obviously if you follow this approach, you’ll need to ensure that your tests are appropriate and sufficient – that they measure the right knowledge and skills that the compliance training would otherwise cover.

But a simple calculation suggests that testing out can save a lot of time. The average employee works around 2,000 hours in a year.


· You need to train 10,000 employees

· 20% of them already know the subject well

· Avoiding training will save on average an hour of someone’s time


Conclusion: By allowing people to test out, you will save 2,000 hours of time or a whole year of someone’s time.

I know many organizations already use Questionmark software to allow employees to “test out” from training. (One of our customers presented a case study at the 2011 Questionmark Users Conference showing that they had saved US$40,000 on a project by doing just this.) But if you are not already allowing testing out for compliance training purposes, it could be worth considering.