Revolutionize Your Training with Optimized Reporting

Jill W.

The ability to run reports is essential for any LMS. It's the best way to track the effectiveness, training quality and the financial viability of your online training material. Being able to run multiple types of reports means that everyone involved in the training program can get the information they need without having to wade through anything extra.

Your LMS is probably able to answer simple numerical questions like:

  • How many people take our training?
  • How many courses do we have?
  • What's our most popular course?
  • How much money does an individual learner spend on our courses?

These are absolutely important! Knowing some of the simple metrics is a great start when you're evaluating the success of your online training, but you should be able to answer more complex questions if you want to prove the value of your online training to your stakeholders, provide meaningful feedback to your developers, or improve the quality of your instructors.

Let's look at some of the questions that your LMS reports should be able to answer, and what kinds of data you can examine to help answer them.

How effective is our training?

The most important thing you should want to know about your training is how effective it is. Are learners actually learning? Or are they doing the dreaded "click-through", trying to get through the lesson as quickly as possible to fulfill a requirement? Course sales and completion rates are only a part of this picture, as a mandated course like Controlled Goods or First Aid could have very high numbers in those areas and still not be very effective for the learner.

A more precise look at effectiveness can be found in looking at some additional metrics. When a learner tries a quiz or evaluation, how often do they get it wrong and have to go back to the course? This could indicate that there is a problem with the quiz, or with the learner's engagement throughout the training. Are there specific sections that consistently have high failure or re-try rates? These would be good places to examine more closely.

Another part of the answer to this question is in the time spent on the course. A good LMS should be able to tell you how long a learner spends on taking a course, and whether there are sections that learners go through unusually quickly or unusually slowly. If the timing estimates for your courses are way off, this could indicate that learners are bored and merely clicking though as fast as they can. On the other hand, a consistent slow-down in a specific section could mean that learners are struggling with the content, and it may need to be clarified or presented in a different way entirely.

What can we do to help our learners?

Instructors and facilitators will of course want to run reports on their students' completion rates and grades, but they may also want to get specific information about any areas where learners require additional help.  One way they can see this in a data set is by running reports on individual learning items, or even individual questions in assessments or quizzes. If there is one question that learners consistently get wrong, a facilitator can see that the content needs more clarification in the lesson or that the question is poorly worded. Completion rates can also show any learners who seem to be stuck in a course or have forgotten to finish. Following up with these learners is a great way to show your investment in their experience, and that they are more than a number.

It's also useful to be able to see the learning history of an individual learner. Your LMS should be able to show how long each learner has been taking courses through your LMS and their overall completion rates. You can use individual learner reports to check for expiring courses and alert the learner that they need to retake a course. Having some learner history can also allow you to make recommendations for the future. For example, if you are updating a course or adding an advanced version of something they've taken, you can contact that learner directly to offer them the new course. Recommending courses to your existing learner base is a great way to market new and updated courses and ensure that your learners keep up with courses that require annual renewal.

How cost-effective is our training?

Running reports on financial metrics is essential for understanding the financial state of your LMS and being able to calculate the return on investment (ROI). These number are the foundation you need for presenting your training program to stakeholders. It's a way for them to assess the success and long-term viability of their investment in developing the online training. Stakeholders and executives want to know more than how many people took each course and how much learners pay per course; they want to know which courses are the biggest earners, and whether or not learners are coming back for further courses after taking one. Your LMS should be able to produce reporting on retention and popularity so that stakeholders can see these numbers at a glance.

If 90% of your learners take 10% of your courses, your stakeholders need to know this so that they can decide if it's worth maintaining the rest of the LMS content, or if there is a way to promote the rest of the catalogue. Your stakeholders should also be able to see if learners are returning for additional online training or if they are doing a single course and then disappearing. If stakeholders and executives have this information, they may be able to ramp up the focus on retention or offer promotions for returning learners. Being able to examine the financial metrics beyond revenue totals and learner totals can help your team focus their efforts in generating additional revenue from your LMS.


The people who develop your online training, whether they're in-house staff or outside vendors, need to know what works for your clientele. Your stakeholders need to see the value they're getting from their investment in the training program and how they can get more revenue from existing training. Your learners need to know that you take their learning seriously and care about the results they get from it. All of these can be addressed in part by having an LMS with excellent reporting capabilities and knowing what numbers and metrics to look at when running reports.

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Jill W.

Jill is an Instructional Designer at BaseCorp Learning Systems with more than 10 years of experience researching, writing and designing effective learning materials. She is fascinated by the English language and enjoys the challenge of adapting her work for different audiences. After work, Jill continues to leverage her professional experience as she works toward the development of a training program for her cats. So far, success has not been apparent.