Corporate Training – Blended Learning Programs (It Doesn’t Have To Be So Technical Or Expensive)

Classroom Instruction: It is the cornerstone of all business training and development – it is very effective and conducive to almost any topic. By allowing learners, or “human capital” (the newest buzz word for people) to interact with the instructor, students are enabled to ask questions and receive immediate answers from the instructor. Likewise, the instructor can facilitate group activities or discussions to get creative juices flowing. Learners have the advantage of being in an environment that allows peer-to-peer counsel, providing the opportunity for people to draw on each other’s experience. Overall, classroom instruction is clearly an effective way to train and educate your management, staff, investors and even your customers.

However, there are drawbacks. Classroom training is typically expensive, thereby impacting your operating expense dramatically. Even more difficult is trying to quantify the costs of the classroom training in relation to the benefits gained. In fact, it is so difficult to track, that many companies do not even attempt to monitor the expense or control the costs. It is important to remember that there is a lot more associated with in- person training than just the salary of your training staff. There are costs involved in procuring/producing training materials, costs of developing and maintaining a training facility, as well as travel and hotel expenses of employees who come from out of town for training. But perhaps the biggest and hardest to measure cost is that of reduction in productivity while your employees are seated in the classroom.

Internet or On-line Training: Internet training is gaining momentum. It is running a close second behind classroom training. As the business world continues to evolve and integrate more technology and fast pace business applications, the value of the online training solution becomes more and more apparent. On-line products can deliver training without the traditional associated expenses of classroom instruction. It can allow associates to complete training on their own time and you lose less in productivity. On-line training is a more effective distribution method for certain types of training and it opens up a global marketplace and outlet for training materials, which your company has already produced. On-line training is certainly the future and will continue to become more interactive and allow for more self-paced learning applications. It is a great option, allowing you to reach a larger audience for less!

Manuals & Reference Guides: This is good old self-study, a tried and true method that will likely be around forever. We will never lose the need to document all the various processes and methods utilized in our businesses and we will always need a clearing- house for these materials. Examples of this genre of training range from “New Hire” pamphlets to “Employee Handbooks” and desk reference manuals. These guides are an important part of initial and continuing training and should be maintained in a readily accessible, well organized form such as a physical library or an online catalog/database.

Some company libraries will include training aids contained in nontraditional media such as video and web-casts. While these are very effective ways to train on certain systems or processes, they are also typically the more expensive ways of distributing information to learners. Most companies do not have a media engineer or video production expert on staff, but don’t worry and don’t rush out such persons, as there are alternatives. Today, authoring tools are making it easy for company management or trainers to produce high quality multimedia training aids. Anyone who is competent with powerpoint can produce a visually impressive presentation without having to be a media professional and without having to learn to write complicated programming code. These authoring tools also allow your business unit leaders to manage and produce their own internal training without having to get IT involved in the entire training project.

Training management: This can be a large and daunting task depending upon the size of your organization. How do you track the progress of learners? How many different ways is ongoing education being managed in your organization within different business units? Is one type of training being produced, provided, tracked and maintained one way, and other training in a completely different manner?

My advice to you is: Invest in a Learning Management System (LMS)! These systems allow you to track and manage all of the blended training mentioned above with the click of a mouse. It is a must have for any company using numerous delivery methods to facilitate training.

A LMS can be installed on your own servers or hosted remotely. Installed systems on your servers allow your IT department to manage problems, but hosted systems allow you to basically rent space on the vendor’s server without the IT hassles. Both installed and hosted systems allow you to manage the content, users, and information. The major difference between the two systems is who is responsible for performing the maintenance. The costs vary between the two methods and you must decide which solution works best for your business.

I bet you’re thinking an LMS sounds wonderful, but very expensive? Well quite the opposite is true depending on how you look at your ROI for training management. Remember, to compare the LMS to traditional methods. Remember we have already established that classroom training is expensive and it is difficult to place figures on the costs. To really determine how much your training program is costing and benefiting you, an extensive audit would be needed (and this involves even more expense). For the sake of blending it all together, we will review and analyze two expense scenarios – one demonstrating a non-effective training program and the other exhibiting an effective blended training program:

Training Program with Opportunity Areas:

Company ABC: Insurance Company

Training needs: Sales training, Claims training, Leadership training, Customer Service training.

Current training program deliver methods:

Classroom training / Training Emails.

Current training management system:

Paper / Claims has a database

Current training staff:

Sales has 1 trainer per 60 remote offices (avg 2 agents) / Claims has 1 trainer per 189 adjusters

Customer Service has 1 trainer per 550 reps / Leadership training is facilitated by 2 trainers for 300 employees.

Manuals and libraries:

Each department has their own method / Some departments have 4 or 5 different places to access manuals / Each sales location has 1 manual / HR department has an online information site to access some employee benefits information as well as some sales agent information


Effective Blended Training Program:

Company DEF: Security Company:

Training needs: Safety training, Policies training, Leadership training, Investigations training.

Current training program deliver methods:

Classroom training (initial 4 week program) / On the job training (shadowing 1 week) / Online internal training to facilitate enhanced company procedures / Step by step guides and manuals (centrally posted and accessible from anywhere on secure network) / Online training program through vendors for investigation techniques, continuing education and enhanced corporate training (including HR) / Testing path and progression program (online interactive testing) / Online and classroom leadership training along with succession plan evaluations / Classroom Leadership training (quarterly – by vendor service) / Training Emails.

Current training management system:

Hosted through a secure network. Each district training manager monitors, updates and manages the employees in their region. Track pass/fail rates and quality of the training they develop through an interactive easy to use authoring tool. Back up everything on paper quarterly to submit to HR department on compliance.

Current training staff:

Corporate Security has 1 trainer per 50 employees / Community Security has 1 trainer per 50 employees / Industrial Security has 1 trainer per site / Home office has 2 instructional designers for course development / One trainer travels and does worksite / job duty analysis / One trainer develops courses through an authoring tool and posts to a hosted LMS. Both of these trainers manage access to all online training and assist the training manager with other duties.

Manuals and libraries:

Each department has their own access to all digital manuals posted online and all manuals are posted on this one site. Home office has a physical library room with all training, reference and legal information organized in a catalog system. Each location has an emergency manual as well as company contacts and procedures

As you can see, a well-developed, blended training program makes a great deal of sense and can have a very large impact on your company’s productivity and success in today’s business environment. A key factor in a successful training program is an LMS, which gives you greater flexibility and real-time management of your training needs.