Building a business case for a learning platform (LMS & LXP) | The definitive guide

September 2, 2020
June 26, 2023

If you’re putting together a business case for a learning management system or learning platform, then your business is literally our business! Or at least it will be if we pull off a compelling argument that conveys learning platforms as vital to the development of people and progress towards company success.

Firstly, remember that the purpose is to convince a decision-maker that your proposition is worthwhile. Keep it brief, convey the essential information in an interesting way, talk positively about the future and hammer home the benefits. Here are a few of the key points your business case should include and address.

  • Justify why you need a learning platform
  • Present the costs and ROI
  • Discuss the risks and benefit of using and not using a learning management system or platform
  • Present a number of options and your recommendation
  • Support your argument with numbers

These key points and the structure for your business case apply regardless of whether you’re choosing a learning management system (LMS) or learning experience platform (LXP). If you’re unsure which might be best, we’ve explained the differences here. If you’ve already got a good idea, it’s time to focus on how you make a compelling argument for why you need it.

Justifying your need for a learning platform and including it in your business case – jump to:

Structuring your learning platform or LMS business case – jump to:

Justify your need for a learning platform with these statistics

Drive productivity by cutting back on time spent searching for information

Many learning platforms enable people to find information and resources in the flow of work, it’s one of their key benefits. When we talk about the LMS vs LXP debate, the words making up those acronyms tell us all we need to know. The LXP is all about the learner experience, while the learning management system makes life easier for managers, and the below explains some of that – these numbers will help you justify just how much time you’ll gain back by using one.

In 2012, it was reported that employees spent 1.8 hours searching for information each day, by 2015 it had risen to 2.5 hours. For most people, that’s a third of the working day. We have become slightly more productive since then, but a 2019 survey still placed the figure at around 25% of their day.

With your learning platform acting as a knowledge base for all your resources, you’ll drastically reduce this time. It’s estimated that an internal knowledge base reduces research time by up to 35%, but if you pick the right platform you might be able to surpass that average. These kind of numbers will be really useful in supporting your business case.

Why elearning is so important

Developing, engaging and retaining employees

It’s not all about the flow of work though, learning platforms help you create pathways to development for employees – giving them the tools to build new skills and move into new positions. The wonderful bi-product of that is that you’ll see a rise in employee engagement and retention, which will definitely help your LXP or LMS business case.

Here’s the quick rundown by numbers:

  • 68% of employees say training and development is the company’s most important policy. That’s according to ClearCompany, who also reported that 76% of employees value career growth opportunities.
  • However, only 29% of employees are “very satisfied” with the current career advancement opportunities available to them at work.
  • And yet only 29% of organisations claim to have clear learning and development plans for their employees.

So, training and development are important to employees, but the majority of organisations are neglecting this area. By investing in employee development, you can drive engagement, retention and your appeal to potential candidates. Here are a few more reasons why:

  • e-learning increases retention rates by 25-60%.
  • Employees who feel highly engaged are 87% less likely to leave their companies.
  • According to Oxford Economics, the cost of replacing employees sits at around £30,000, when you consider the loss of productivity and hiring costs.
  • Companies with highly engaged workforces are also 21% more profitable, which leads us nicely onto…

Using learning platforms to drive profitability

If we told you that the time wasted searching for information could equate to more than £6,000 in lost hours and productivity per employee, per year, would you be shocked?

We already mentioned that the average employee spends 25% of their working day searching for information, but we’ve not calculated the monetary costs. If the average employee works a 40-hour week then they’d spend 10 hours of that searching for knowledge, and with average hourly pay in the UK reported to be £14.80 in 2019, that equates to £148 per week. If we look at the generous end of the annual leave spectrum and say an employee works 42 weeks of the year, that would work out to be £6,216 annually.

Some less meaty maths also points to the fact that a learning platform reduces the time and money spent on face-to-face and formal training. Studies show that e-learning reduces training time by between 40% and 60%, while simultaneously reducing expenses for travel, instructors, venues and time spent out of work.

Structuring your business case for a learning platform

Creating a compelling case for a learning platform

The executive summary

This is the greatest hits of your business case: following the same structure, picking out the key points and selling them in a compelling fashion that convinces the decision-makers. For some, this is the only section they’ll read or the influential factor in whether they continue beyond the summary. It’s recommended that you write this last, or at least finalise it as your final act.

Why do you need a learning platform? Address the problem or opportunity

The important thing is to establish the context that led you to this point. Have you reached the limit of the system(s) that you’re already using? Are you operating without a platform and that’s created a different ceiling to learning and development? These are two of the likely reasons you started looking into learning systems and platforms.

Two strings to your bow here are your ability to link it back to the company’s goal or vision and the inclusion of any data that supports why this issue needs to be addressed. If it is a case of replacing the current platforms, you should provide details on why they’re no longer fit for purpose or providing a return on your investment. Ideally, you should be impartial and factual at this point.

Dive into the specific L&D goals

Setting the general scene is absolutely vital, but so is explaining the more specific goals a platform will help you achieve. You can also think of these as the smaller problems or opportunities through which you highlight who will benefit and to what extent. Ultimately, this helps your cause as it shows how you plan to use the learning platform in practical and relevant scenarios.

  • Will it help you create a more efficient onboarding process that enables joiners to contribute sooner?
  • Do your customer-facing teams need better access to more useful resources?
  • Is knowledge currently being buried in silos where it should be shared?
  • Are you facing an upskill battle when it comes to developing the traits and competencies your team’s need?
  • Could it be the key to addressing poor levels of staff engagement and retention?

Think of the specific instances and pain points that drove your search for a learning platform.

Discuss the competition

If there’s one guaranteed way to get attention, it’s bringing up how your competitors are using and benefitting from learning platforms, especially if you can draw on some data. If you can’t get the scoop on your rivals, support your argument through insights on a similar company from a related industry. As we’ve alluded to throughout this, hard data will trump anecdotal evidence in your business case, so make sure you crunch a few numbers.

Assess the available platforms and options

You will have drawn up a shortlist of learning platforms, and this is the time to present the risks and benefits, costs and implementation timelines for each. Remember, doing nothing is also an option, so it’s important to address the risk and cost of no action.

Your recommended learning platform

You’ve been factual and diplomatic up until now, so it’s high-time you unleashed your passion for driving a better L&D future through your desired platform. There are a few ways that you can do this: you may choose to further explain the risks and benefits of adopting this platform, you might outline the project timeline in detail to highlight when the decision would pay dividends or discuss who will be involved in its delivery.

The important idea is to show that you’ve considered the resources required and the scale of moving to that platform.

Sell what the platform will help you achieve – ‘Features tell, benefits sell’

Possibly the best way to present your argument is to forget about the features and focus solely on the benefits and value your preferred tool offers. This is more powerful because you can talk about how it will positively impact return on investment, which is arguably far easier when talking about an LXP or ILP.

You could focus on how they cut down the time it takes to search for knowledge, which increases employee productivity and helps create a culture of learning at the point of need. In turn, that reduces the training costs associated with the traditional methods of learning and development. Learning platforms also cut down the ramp up time for new starters, by connecting them to useful knowledge and people in one searchable platform. Combine all of these points and you’re more likely to engage and retain your employees, meaning the cost of staff churn is reduced.


Keep this short and sweet. Simply summarise why it’s important to address this problem and reinforce why the plan you’ve proposed is the most effective way of solving it.

Click the image below for your PDF version

Business Case For A Learning Platform

Your PDF version of building a learning platform business case/LMS business case

Need help with your learning platform business case?

Putting together a business case can be daunting, right? Especially if you’re not familiar with learning platforms!

We’d be happy to lend an ear if you’ll give us a few minutes to discuss the benefits of HowNow. We’ll scratch your case, if you help ours!

Check out our other learning management system (LMS) resources