Driving Learning Forward

New approaches are shaping how organizations train employees.

By Gary Bragar

Findings from NelsonHall’s sixth global learning business process outsourcing (LBPO) market analysis show continued LBPO growth, at mid-high single digits across all regions, confirming that organizations are increasing their investments in learning programs. Talent is a main factor driving this growth, with today’s competitive climate making it increasingly difficult for organizations to attract, engage, and retain top performers. Investing in employees by providing them with the necessary means to develop is proving to be a beneficial strategy. In recent years, learning initiatives have demonstrated business value and solid ROI.

The next generation of learning solutions is allowing organizations to incorporate the right mix of learning modalities to engage employees including:

  • Formal: traditional classroom and virtual instructor-led training
  • Enabled: job-specific, on-demand, micro-learning content delivered via mobile devices and social collaboration
  • Technology-based: corporate massive open online courses (MOOCs), gamification, simulations, and virtual worlds
  • Blended: driven by geographically dispersed workforces and virtual employees

The new workforce wants to be engaged in shorter learning bites with instant access to information. They want to learn collaboratively by using video and gaming technology. Social learning is also enabling organizations to experience a higher level of employee engagement and speed to competence at lower costs.

The research study revealed some of learning BPO’s top drivers, including:

  • The ability to develop and implement a centralized, standardized, and automated training process across the organization to support growing and global workforces.
  • Access to a common set of tools, processes, and systems with more efficient training methods including just-in- time learning, micro-learning, and mobile learning.
  • Cost reduction while improving training efficiencies.
  • The delivery of innovation and best practices, including new ideas, process improvements, and technology- based learning modalities such as gamification, simulations, and MOOCs.
  • Improvements in business results, workforce capabilities, and performance.
  • Increases in revenue by improving productivity and filling knowledge and skill gaps.
  • Access to analytics that align with business needs to demonstrate improved performance.
  • Improvements in compliance, especially in high risk/ consequence environments.

Case Study: NCR Corporation

Consumer transaction technology company NCR Corporation has experienced several benefits from learning BPO. They have been working with Raytheon Professional Services (RPS) since 2012. “RPS partnered with NCR Global Learning to reinvent NCR’s learning by leveraging performance analytics, technology, and innovation in collaboration with internal functional groups,” explains Russell O’Brien, managing director of RPS North America.

The challenge: NCR’s on-boarding curriculum was 90 percent instructor led and took 20 weeks to complete. As a result, it required three separate trips to NCR’s central training facility in Peachtree City, Georgia. This traditional approach to training drove up travel expenses while the time to competency was too long to effectively onboard a wave of more than 200 new hires. But the training program was imperative to the business, with the goal to maintain a high level of performance and customer satisfaction for servicing financial and retail equipment of NCR clients.

NCR sought a new innovative learning strategy that leveraged performance analytics, technology, and sound instructional design to transform the way customer engineers were trained. This included:

  • Leveraging performance analytics. RPS mined and analyzed data from 860,000 work orders, performed by 3,500 customer engineers around the United States.

The analysis included the areas of failure, root causes of these incidents, actual repairs performed, and revisit rates for each of these work orders. Some of the insights gained from these performance analytics included the following: the majority of work orders were covered by 20 most frequent areas of failure; performance profiles for individual customer engineers were mapped to targeted training interventions; and a U.S. density analysis with the most optimum delivery network (one hub and four spokes). 

  • Blending the curriculum with learning technology and a performance support tool. RPS applied its curriculum architecture process to dissect more than 800 lessons from the on-boarding program and allocated learning objectives to the most appropriate media. This curriculum analysis resulted in the design, development, and launch of new learning modules including online diagnostics exercises or highly interactive simulations. The remaining part of the curriculum was streamlined to remove duplicative content and better align learning with NCR actual field challenges. Over time, RPS progressively introduced new learning technology such as interactive PDFs, “chalk-talk” and emerging issue videos, virtual classroom training, and a new performance support tool.

Results: The new strategy resulted in improved learning system efficiency, accelerated time to competency, and increased employee engagement with a modern learning approach. NCR experienced these results:

  • Annual training completions increased by 167 percent to nearly 60,000 annual completions
  • Annual training-related costs (including travel, facility, parts, learning management system, development, delivery, sub-contracts, and learning management team) were reduced by 17 percent
  • Time to productivity was reduced to eight weeks (from 20 weeks prior to implementing the new curriculum) while maintaining the same level of performance
  • Blended learning solution also generated 6,959 new international completions

NCR reinvested part of the savings to establish a new hub-and-spoke model, and bring training closer to the field. Leveraging the outcome of the analytics studies, the organization decided to establish a network of four new training satellites in the West, South, East, and Mid- West, together with headquarters in Georgia. This new facility footprint increases coverage from six percent of learners able to drive to the next training location to nearly 49 percent.

With NCR’s 60 percent improvement in the ability to turn a new hire into a productive employee, the organization reduced non-productive employee expenses and lost revenue opportunities, and enhanced the company’s agility and reactiveness to meet new and evolving business demands.

The creation of a more efficient training program that leverages analytics has enabled RPS to demonstrate business value obtained by NCR.

Gary Bragar is HRO research director for NelsonHall.

Posted October 20, 2015 in Engaged Workforcein Learning

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