Employee EngagementLearning & Development

Elevating Higher Education

CIGNA University raises learning results through an outsourcing engagement with General Physics.
by Don Duquette
Headquartered in Philadelphia, CIGNA is one of the top health insurers in the U.S. CIGNA covers more than 11 million people with its various medical plans, which include PPO, HMO, point-of-service (POS), indemnity, and consumer-directed products. CIGNA also offers other health coverage in the form of dental, vision, pharmacy, and behavioral health plans; and it sells group accident, life, and disability insurance.  

CIGNA’s strategy for learning and development is focused on the following:
Business. Building and supporting the overall CIGNA business strategy. To support the business strategy, it is critical for learning solutions to not only touch internal employees but extend to all external stakeholders including health care professionals, customers, employers, suppliers, distributors, and partners.

Talent. Building the right attitudes, the right leaders, and the right overall talent pipeline required to sustain the changing needs of the business over the long-term.

Continuous learning and employee development. Ensuring learning is available anytime, anywhere so employees can truly take advantage of self-serve learning opportunities to build the skills and knowledge they need for their particular roles. CIGNA University is responsible for executing the company’s strategy for learning and development by providing direction on how to best align training priorities, dollars, and resources. The university’s centralized structure enables the learning organization to take an enterprise business focus while targeting key, strategic business priorities. It promotes best-practice processes and tool deployment across work streams and provides specialized resources to effectively and efficiently meet customer needs.
The leadership team consistently engages the input and support of three different sources:

  • An internal advisory board comprised of 6 to 8 well-rounded leaders in the company;
  • An external advisory board comprised of 5 to 6 academic and corporate representatives from outside CIGNA;
  • Voice of the customer data represented by internal and external sources through employee and member focus groups, surveys, etc.

CIGNA University conducted an evaluation of its learning strategy and determined a change was needed to support the broader objectives of the company by moving from a fixed staffing model to a variable staffing model for the development and delivery work streams.

In March 2007, General Physics Corporation (GP) was selected as CIGNA University’s outsource training partner. GP had to provide a wide range of outsourced learning services that include the following:

  • Learning management system (LMS) implementation. CIGNA had an existing LMS that was not meeting its needs. GP would replace the existing LMS with an industry-leading LMS and commit to an extremely aggressive implementation date to launch the new technology.
  • LMS administration/call center/help desk. GP currently provides LMS administration, call center, and help desk services for more than 26,000 users.
  • Project management (PM) support of CIGNA’s development activities. GP assumed the responsibility of providing PM support for all development activities. Several CIGNA employees were transitioned to GP to support CIGNA’s development efforts.

Development. GP is currently CIGNA’s primary training development partner. As a
result of the partnership with GP, CIGNA’s ability to respond to the organization’s variable development needs has been improved.

Delivery. GP assumed the responsibility of supporting all of CIGNA’s instructor-led training (ILT) delivery needs. CIGNA transitioned its trainers to GP, which augmented the staff with additional resources to ensure CIGNA’s delivery needs will continue to be met.

Vendor management services. CIGNA transitioned approximately 30 managed training vendors to GP, which is now responsible for the day-to-day management of all of CIGNA’s training vendors.

To ensure a successful relationship, GP assigned a full-time account manager to oversee all activities relating to delivered services. The account manager is charged with managing the day-to-day relationship with CIGNA and is the primary escalation point for any issues.

A six-month transition plan was implemented to manage the LMS implementation as well as track the progress of migrating the remaining services to GP.  Regular review meetings were established with CIGNA and project progress was closely tracked.

Since initiating the relationship with GP, CIGNA has posted the following successes:

  • Implemented a new LMS in six months;
  • Reduced internal PM, development, and delivery staff by more than 50 percent;
  • Greater flexibility in meeting the organization’s development needs. CIGNA is able to utilize GP’s flexible staffing model in which resources are brought on as needed; and
  • A single point of contact regarding the management of training vendors. By consolidating all training vendors under GP, CIGNA now enjoys a single point-of-contact for all training vendor issues.

The provider also supports CIGNA’s external partner training, which is critical to CIGNA’s growth and success. The insurance giant leverages third-party partners to capture market share by selling and supporting its products. Online annual certification programs, product training, and refresher curriculums have proven to provide CIGNA with the tools it needs to be competitive.  

Tags: Engaged Workforce, HRO Today Global, Learning

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