Whenever there’s a change in the organizational chart, training budgets come under fire. A change at the very top finds people rushing to save their individual jobs rather than attempting to save their jobs by making a business case for their department and its function. So, let’s make the business case for eLearning because no business can afford to let its eLearning program go the way of Kodachrome (with apologies to Paul Simon).

Game, Thy Name is Competition

“We must remain competitive,” says the CEO at her first pep rally. An elastic eLearning budget torpedoes the competitive edge. One year you’re at the top of the skills and capability curve, and the next year, you’re behind the curve—on your way to creating a skills gap and reduced productivity. Inconsistency spells “unreliability” to your customers and “unrest” and “anxiety” to workers.

Elusive ROI

When Ms. Newly-Minted CEO cuts the eLearning budget because she doesn’t see an acceptable ROI, chances are she cut the “frills,” the frills and follow-up support that boost the ROI. While eLearning can present five times the material of a classroom training, the material needs reinforcement, and it’s the frills like gamification, social learning and the opportunity to set up a personal learning network (PLN) that make the difference between a lackluster ROI and a significant ROI. The devil is in the details, and those are the first to receive the axe.

On the flip side, needlessly increasing the budget leads to waste, reduced ROI and excessive head count that’s ripe for the chopping block when the next CEO strolls through the C-suite door. On the bright side, it’s the perfect time to upgrade your learning management system (LMS).

Starve a Budget, Feed the Beast

What’s the purpose of a speed trap? Revenue enhancement for state or local government. Your CEO is likely to see the massive amount of new regulations that sprout wings each year as revenue enhancement for .gov. A well-trained and conscientious workforce is the only way to avoid the fines that accompany lack of compliance, and those fines can add up quickly—far exceeding the entire budget of the eLearning cost center.

Pay Me Now or Pay Me Later

Dismantling a successful eLearning program means higher costs in the future to reinvigorate a failing corpse of a program. It’s a law in search of a name. Minus a consistent (or moderately increasing) annual budget, you won’t get consistent results, but you will get unintended consequences.