Nowadays is would be difficult to find a growing company that has not tried or at least considered e-learning. If you’re reading this, it is likely that you’ve had your share of challenges with content creation and delivering your training to everyone in the company. This article will provide insights into how you can evaluate and choose technology solutions when you’re starting out in e-learning.
It is way past midnight and Sophie is finishing her fifth cup of coffee. As the company's HR manager, tomorrow she must present the new training process to the CEO. Sophie looks at her laptop again in the hope of finding the answer. The 350+ people company specializing in high-tech banking solutions is actively hiring full-time employees for a range of positions. Newly recruited programmers, bankers and lawyers arrive at the office every other week. Another pain point is the change in legislation concerning privacy which has impacted the way clients can be approached. Now all employees responsible for client communication need to be trained on proper conduct. The situation is also complicated by the fact that many people work remotely from their own computers and cannot come to the office to receive their training. Sophie realizes that classroom trainings are not an option anymore. She decides to go through her notes from a recent HR conference. Some concepts suddenly make more sense.
INTEA’s ten-year experience in helping companies improve training practices shows that organizations struggle with choosing the best e-learning approach. Lately organizations are increasingly turning to new forms of training. One of the solutions is training program automation. It can help managers like Sophie offer learner on-the-go training that they can complete in more than one go at work, at home or during their commute. Here’s how choosing e-learning technology is changing.
A mistake we’ve seen in many Baltic companies is choosing a learning management system (LMS) before properly analyzing its impact on daily operations.
Training, like any other internal process, should balance the organization's short-term and long-term training needs.
The risk lies in the process of choosing the right technology. We see company after company choose on functionality rather than on how the solution supports their business goals: types of test questions, gamification features, integration HR systems, mobile apps… The longer the list, the better! Choosing on functionality usually leads to selecting one of three technological approaches that we discuss below.
Some companies get an open-source e-learning platform like Moodle to benefit from zero license costs. Advantages of open-source platforms are zero license costs and the possibility to install and manage them internally. For example, Moodle is universally loved by the education industry where students have the same curricula repeating year after year. However, open-source solutions require considerable knowledge of the system to run it properly on a daily basis, as there is no-one to turn to when crowd-sourced code breaks or additional functionality is needed. Just like when buying a used car, you never know when and where it will “surprise” you – be it cracking of a tire or dead brakes. Such a ‘car’ might turn out very costly for a company like Sophie’s where she is the only training manager responsible to 'driving'. Also, while open-source platforms often compare well with commercial solutions in terms of functionality, their user-friendliness is rarely on par with best design practices.
When companies find their training needs to be unique and not covered by existing solutions, some decide to build what they need in-house. Custom-built solutions are like tailored clothes: pay extra and they will fit perfectly. Similarly, the costs of developing a custom platform are usually high and unpredictable.
However, cost is not the main reason why custom-built systems fall short of companies' goals. The true cause is change. Imagine a retailer expanding into a new market. Additional user languages and courses on local legislation are required. The company also starts employing more and more remote workers and needs to adapt the system for new browsers and mobile use. However, to change existing courses, visual design or promote video trainings, IT needs to reprogram every single part of the existing software or buy a platform that has such functionality. Eventually a company either grows out of a DIY LMS or maintains a legacy system until an industry tested LMS is procured.
When a company grows to a size where in-person training is no longer viable, most companies choose one of the many LMS products like Kallidus, Docebo or GrowthAcademy to organize their e-learning efforts. If the company wants to build a learning culture throughout the organization, the needs for modern user interface, use of videos, courses, tests, blended and mobile learning are too many to be covered by an open-source or DIY solution.
Professional solutions are well-designed, support the necessary types of training materials, can be accessed from anywhere, and platform maintenance is guaranteed by a technology partner. But soon managers realize that they have bought an expensive system for distributing just a few courses. To justify the investment, user engagement must be maintained over time by constantly publishing new content and channeling all training efforts to e-learning.
Training managers can end up paying for what they don’t need, like watching three TV series on Netflix but paying a subscription for thousands of titles.
This could happen to Sophie. Only two training programs – onboarding and customer service – are needed in her company, and it is very unlikely that the content will change very often.
To maximize e-learning ROI, organizations should look at the overall engagement of the training experience is, not its parts. An increasing number of LMS technology suppliers are developing micro-learning modules and apps to use alongside or instead of their e-learning portals. This gives companies a chance to test-drive their services before committing to multiple years with a specific solution. These programs are also built for user comfort and best learning experience.
More aspects to consider when selecting the best e-learning tech are the available resources such as time required to spend on platform implementation, the budget and the capabilities of people who will work with the system after it’s live. These factors heavily influence the options available to a company.
Time and budget
Sophie should start by thinking about the resources she has. Expanding the existing HR budget is undesirable, and there are no IT people in the company familiar with learning systems. Sophie assumes that it would be up to her to administer e-learning and create training materials. Finally, there is the issue of time: Sophie only has a couple months before the most active business season begins to launch the trainings.
Just like HR managers everywhere, we at INTEA have recognized the need for a solution that both covers learners’ e-learning needs and is flexible enough to grow over time. A solution like that would best suit Sophie's company goals and resources. We call this trend "automated training program", and it's on the rise throughout Europe. Our own training program automation offering, which we've just launched for Baltic clients, combines two important aspects – learning technology provided by CrossKnowledge Learning Suite and our long-term expertise implementing and maintaining e-learning platforms. With the new solution, companies can use their existing training materials - like valuable presentations from classroom training and videos - by organizing them into intuitive, structured programs.
Maintanance and support
Starting small also tackles the issue of resources devoted to administrator training and maintenance. This top-line technology is fully managed by INTEA, while predictable per-user pricing significantly reduces the cost of ownership. Once the training is launched, the supplier performs daily maintenance, like fixing bugs, providing training reports and managing users.
Organizations can focus on content creation and communication, which is a plus for those new to e-learning like Sophie. With this specialized model of operation, there is a higher chance that employees will actually engage in the learning process that is well-designed and technologically sound. When Sophie gains e-learning experience and builds an e-learning culture in her company, automated training programs can scale easily by adding other CrossKnowledge learning services, thus building on top of what she already has.
E-learning, like any other process in a company, should be based on the business goals that it supports. Automated training programs like Xpress LMS by INTEA are risk-free solutions that allow companies to test great technology when future e-learning plans have not been drawn up yet.
Like an Uber for learning, managed training programs are winning over companies new to e-learning due to their first-class, scalable technology, fast time-to-market and predictable cost. Added bonus? If something goes wrong or your training needs change, you have an experienced partner to turn to for support and improvements.