The best companies, in some form or fashion, understand the importance of providing training for their employees. Improving skill sets and broadening knowledge are keys to unlocking and unleashing the value of a workforce. And providing on-going training is, by far, the most cost effective way to keep your employees motivated and loyal to the organization while reducing employee turn-over and improving work productivity and job satisfaction.
In these uncertain economic times, training tends to take a back-seat for most organizations as they, instead, tend to focus available budget on go-to-market initiatives or other business activities that deliver immediate business results that directly impact bottom line revenues and profits. And this approach, in the short-term, makes sense as companies tend to believe that typical training programs distract senior company personnel from their main responsibilities of driving bottom line results, and that they will pull valuable employees ‘off-line’ for significant periods of time – undermining productivity. The cost/benefit equation, if viewed through this prism, leads companies to conclude that developing and rolling out a training program, at this time and in this business climate, is not a wise investment.
And developing the content is not typically even the main concern. Instead, concerns center on how to roll out the training; when employees take should take the training; how to measure the effectiveness of the training; and how to make the training available globally and across devices from PCs to smart phones. These are justifiable concerns. Asking executives to fly to each office location to deliver the training – or taking the time to turn local executives into training/content experts is time consuming and expensive.
Turn to the Cloud
Instead of rolling out training with the tried to true traditional methods, companies should look to cloud platform solutions that are available in the marketplace that alleviate many of these legitimate concerns. A cloud-based training platform enables companies to: (1) reduce the costs (both hard and soft) and roll-out time of training (2) make training available to employees regardless of location (3) enable trainees to engage with training when they want and where they want on the device of their choice, be it PC or Smart Phone (4) seamlessly localize all content for engagement across global theaters (5) track, in real time, who is taking the training, how far users are progressing through the training and, (6) via quizzes, confirm that employees are in fact absorbing the content.
All of this probably sounds great… but let’s show you how this works in practice, not just in theory.
In 2012, we partnered with USA Pears, the Washington Apple Commission, the US Apple Export Council, the California Strawberry Commission, the California Pear Advisory Board and the California Table Grape Commission to launch a global training program to educate foreign Importers/Wholesalers, Produce Managers and Produce Staff on the best practices for receiving, storing and displaying US fresh fruit.
The Request for Proposal (RFP) from the US Fruit Council asked for recommendations for how to best launch a training program that made content available to users online and via mobile devices, in over 15 countries around the world, with localized all content in up to 13 languages and with a quiz mechanism to document an understanding of – and expertise in – the training content. All of the bids received involved building proprietary learning platforms – with costs ranging from $500,000 to $800,000 – and with production timelines ranging from 6-months to 1-year.
The Fiction Tribe won this bid because we were the only agency to recommend leveraging a cloud-based education platform – Litmos – that capped program costs at significantly lower budget levels and included a production timeline of 3-4 months. And with extremely low platform cost (under $500/month), we recommended that the US Fruit Council dedicate the majority of their budget to the training content – where it should be focused – versus platform/technology costs and development.
Litmos was a natural choice for this global training program.
The Litmos platform delivered two additional significant advantages: (1) a plug-and-play, intuitive platform interface that enabled us to easily set up courses and course modules that ranged from static, on-screen content, to animated videos and (2) an intuitive and simple methodology for flowing training content into the platform. If this platform enabled ME to set up the training program, to establish courses and course modules and to flow that content it, believe me… it’s simple to use.
And so, with the allocated training funds dedicated to content development vs. technology development, we were able to create a series of short animated videos to highlight and reinforce the key information and instruction for each training module – and for each target audience. Viewing is always better than reading, and the animated video shorts we developed helped turn trainees into experts across subject matter – from unloading trucks, keeping fruit cold and storing fruit in the cold room to displaying fruit and running in-store promotions.
If there is one thing you take away from this article, it should be: Look to the cloud before you decide to build anything yourself. More often than not, there is a cloud platform out there that will help you re-think how bring a solution to market – or to your own employees – saving you time and money, improving speed to market, and all without sacrificing quality and accountability. And best of all, you can use your budget on what matters most – the content – and not the technology.