Employee EngagementLearning & Development

Employee Reinvention

 How outsourcing helped a telecom company improve both worker and customer satisfaction.
By David Mallon
A telecommunications company needs to be as innovative as its product. Telstra, a Melbourne, Australia-based phone and data service provider wasn’t up to speed with the changing marketplace and the increasing number of younger, faster telecommunications companies. The company’s infrastructure for its 46,000 employees was antiquated, and costs were increasing while products stayed the same. Telstra sought to transform its business with better products, improved fixed and wireless networks, and high quality customer service through a five-year plan.
At the heart of the transformation was the need to reinvent its staff through an outsourced learning program. According to our firm’s “High-Impact Learning Organization” research, companies outsource training functions for three reasons: lack of internal skills and expertise; demand for rapid turnaround; and the need to reduce costs. To support the depth of changes and meet tight deadlines, Telstra opted to invest $140 million in an end-to-end outsourcing model. It vetted companies that had experience working with companies of the same size and geography. Also of importance was the expertise and ability to quickly provide the learning support Telstra required. After an intense selection process, Telstra forged a five-year partnership with Accenture. The global consulting firm provides the telecommunications company with the following: learning plans aligned to business requirements; curriculum planning; content development; classroom and online course delivery; support operations; technology services; and governance structures.
Accenture also created the Telstra Learning Academy (TLA), a training business that is accountable to Telstra for meeting business objectives related to business impact, learning outcomes, and budgets. The TLA acts and operates as part of Telstra operations, yet its staff is managed by Accenture. The infrastructure provides business outcome-focused learning, flexibility, scalability, and best-practice training delivery. It is divided into four service units.
Business Interlock. This division ensures alignment between desired business outcomes and TLA programs.
Learning Design and Development. This unit leverages the production and capacity and learning expertise of Accenture’s global content development network to develop TLA courseware.
Learning Delivery. This division schedules and conducts live classroom and virtual instructor sessions, with full-time master instructors.
Learning Adminstration. The unit provides administrative support for the learning operation via Accenture’s support and help-desk call center infrastructure.
In a fast-pasted, highly competitive marketplace, Telstra’s goal is to provide a customer experience that is a differentiator. Its employees bring their learning to consumer interactions, gaining a competitive advantage.
During the first two years, TLA has shown positive results. The TLA has trained 21,500 personnel in 70 training centers across Australia, and has conducted 7,800 instructor-led training days for Telstra’s operations business unit. Accenture has developed and delivered 350 new training courses aligned to business priorities.
With the help of TLA, Telstra is seeing larger organization transformation. In 10 months, the company deployed a 3G mobile network and an accompanying IP infrastructure over a physical area equivalent to the continental U.S.
In the latest employee survey, 60 percent of respondents reported that there are opportunities for job-specific learning and development. That’s up 11 percent from 2007 and 15 percent from before instituting TLA.
For their part, customers indicate rising satisfaction with fault repair. To the question, “Was the work worth what was paid?” Telstra’s scores now exceed those of its competitors for the first time. The TLA has also helped to achieve a 20-percent increase in field workforce productivity since November 2005.
Much of TLA’s success can be attributed to some of its implemented courses and programs.
Project Green.  This is the first major program by Telstra to restructure its field-work dispatch business and has resulted in an increase in workforce productivity of more than 15 percent.
Assess-First Health and Safety Program. Communication technicians are accessed for learning needs prior to training. Each technician who passes assessment saves the company 2.5 days of work time, reducing the percent of the learning budget from 90 percent to less than 5 percent.
Jumpering on the Network. A study reported a 60-percent reduction in network jumping fault rates for work done by technicians who completed the training, saving $1.2 million.
Communication Technicians of the Future (CToF) Program.Telstra has created a new suite of software tools designed to assist CTs. The TLA supported this program by providing program analysis service, content development and delivery, planning and scheduling. The CToF involves two days of training, and field workforce productivity has increased by more than 20 percent.
Establishing the outsourcing relationship with Accenture has helped Telstra accelerate its learning program and its end product. The backbone of the program—the TLA—was launched six months after contract signature. Its success is positioning the company to meet its transformational business objectives.
David Mallon is a principal analyst for research and advisory consulting firm Bersin & Associates.

Tags: Engaged Workforce, HRO Today Global, Learning

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