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  • 1. Engaging/Maintaining C-Level Support for e-Learning Francis Pring-Mill, Sierra Systems Learning: Re-Imagined
  • 2. Agenda
    • The C-level perspective
    • Our SkillSoft implementation
    • Engaging support
    • Maintaining support
    • Measures of success
    • Lessons learned
    • Questions
  • 3. The C-level perspective
    • Employee development is a means to a business end
    • What is the investment?
    • What is the return?
    • How long do I have to wait?
    • How will I measure success?
    • Who is Sierra and what business are we in?
  • 4. Who is Sierra?
  • 5. Our SkillSoft implementation
    • Sierra Systems
      • Management consulting, systems integration, managed services
      • 1,000+ staff, 12 locations, North America
      • Primarily project work, i.e., temporary teams of consultants
    • Pre-SkillSoft
      • Individual e-learning courses purchased from a variety of vendors
    • SkillSoft Pilot
      • June 2003-May 2006, 250 users, MML bundle
    • SkillSoft Company-Wide
      • June 2006, all employees, SkillChoice Complete
  • 6. “Means to a business end”
    • For professional services firms…
    • “ The purpose of employee development is to increase the competence and know-how of our consultants because this is what we sell to our clients.”
      • Client receives better service
      • Sierra Systems gains a more valuable asset
      • Consultant can command higher rates
      • Consultant’s salary can increase
      • Consultant’s job satisfaction increases
      • Sierra Systems’ retention increases
  • 7. What is the investment?
    • Value of consultant to client = knowledge + skills + experience
    • On-the-job learning produces all three
      • And we get paid
      • Anything less represents “lost billable time”
    • Only experience produces experience, but education can provide knowledge and skills
      • We typically do not get paid
      • Alternatives include e-learning and instructor-led
    • What is the best investment?
  • 8. Feature comparison Scheduled Immediate Time to learning (/productivity) No. Proceed at speed of slowest learner. Yes. Based on answers to pre-assessment quiz. Skip content learners already know? Speed of class 100% Self-paced Committed full-time (including travel) Accommodating personal work/life schedule Ease of scheduling Scheduled Learners pick from 24x7x365 Time of day Once Unlimited Access to course(s) INSTRUCTOR-LED E-LEARNING FEATURES
  • 9. Feature comparison Can vary Same every time Consistency Business skills, topics requiring face-to-face interactions (group workshops, role plays) Not requiring group work. Many technology topics, business analysis, mgmt consulting. Type of topic best suited Not so easy. Cost means typically used only to meet just-in-time requirement. Yes. Can expand knowledge in advance of pressing project need. Expand knowledge on non just-in-time topics? Not interruptible. Cannot multi-task on other things. Pick up & put down whenever means can use small time chunks during day or bench time between projects Interruptibility INSTRUCTOR-LED E-LEARNING FEATURES
  • 10. Feature comparison One classroom at a time Unlimited No. of learners Depends – can be significant Annual seat to 3,500 courses costs less than a single 1-day instructor-led course Course cost Depends (airfare, hotel, expenses) None Travel cost Depends (1/2 day each way) None Travel time No Yes New courses at no additional cost? Still appropriate for certain topics Access to e-learning resources is expected, especially by Gen Y Expectations INSTRUCTOR-LED E-LEARNING FEATURES
  • 11. Engaging C-level support
    • Assuming all else is equal, e-learning is clearly an appealing investment
    • In particular, e-learning
      • Can be used for reference while on-the-job
      • Enables value to be created during the natural pockets of lost billable time, i.e., time between projects
      • Is well-suited to self-study topics like technical certifications
      • Makes it easy for people to choose to spend personal time on learning
    • This is the “e-learning promise”
  • 12. What we did
    • Ran a two-week evaluation with team of 31 consultants (Feb. 2003)
      • Online orientations, then unlimited access to courses (some assigned, some self-selected)
      • Conducted survey, produced report
    • Ran a pilot with 250 users (June 2003-May 2006)
      • Paid for by business units
      • Conducted survey, produced report referencing our results and industry research
    • Went company-wide (June 2006)
      • Paid corporately
      • Now an employee “benefit”
  • 13. Maintaining C-level support
    • Are we delivering on the promise?
    • Measures of success
      • How much is e-learning being used and what for?
      • How is it helping us deliver a better service to our clients?
      • How is it helping the value of our consultants increase?
      • How are we achieving the above in a cost-effective way?
      • Any other benefits?
      • How are we sustaining success?
  • 14. How much is e-learning being used?
    • Quarterly measures, by business unit
    • Course usage statistics
      • Users as a percentage of headcount
      • Number of courses accessed, distinct courses accessed, course completions
      • Total course time, average time per user
    • Books24x7 usage statistics
      • Users as a percentage of headcount
      • Number of sessions, HTML pages read
      • Total Books24x7 time, average time per user
    • Comments
      • More is better, but what matters is business value created…
  • 15. What is e-learning being used for?
    • MEASURES
    • Quarterly program reviews
    • Top ten courses
    • Top ten book categories
    • Course evaluation feedback
      • Statistics
      • Free format comments
    • Feedback from follow-up with power users (identified through usage stats)
  • 16. What is e-learning being used for?
    • COURSES
    • Core Concepts in Business Analysis
    • Enterprise Analysis and Making a Business Case
    • Introduction to Project Management
    • Analyzing Requirements Using Models
    • Eliciting Requirements
    • ITIL V3 – ITIL and the Service Life Cycle
    • BOOKS CATEGORIES
    • .NET Framework
    • Best Practices
    • Communications/Negotiations
    • Career Development
    • Coaching/Mentoring
    • Brand Management
    • Change Management
    • Business Analyst
  • 17. Course evaluation feedback (stats)
    • “ I will be able to apply the knowledge and/or skills gained from this course to help me perform my job better.”
      • Agree 56%, Strongly Agree 18%. 74%
    • “ The course content was organized in a way that allowed me to meet the learning objectives.”
      • Agree 64%, Strongly Agree 15%. 79%
    • “ I would recommend this course to other employees in my organization.”
      • Agree 54%, Strongly Agree 13%. 67%
  • 18. How are we delivering a better service?
    • “ The true power of SkillSoft didn’t dawn on me until I watched a developer using the Books24x7 as a cookbook to install and use some new software.”
    • “ (1) Not having to read, or browse, a whole book only to find it doesn’t have what I want. (2) Being able to find if anything has been written on a given topic. (3) Getting nuggets of specific information relevant to the task at hand.”
    • “ My present assignment came as a result of a successful interview… in part due to my having access to metadata books on the SkillSoft site. Even if I had used it that one time it…” (the assignment) “…paid for years of access.”
  • 19. How is consultant value increasing?
    • “ I can decide when to take the course. I can take certain sections more than once. I can print relevant course information. It gives me feedback right away after an assessment.”
    • “ I like that I can go back to a course even when I’ve completed it. I can use small chunks of time for learning, e.g., 20 minutes at a time.”
    • “ I liked that on Saturday night when I couldn’t sleep I was able to learn something through the wee hours of the morning. It’s kind of addictive. I wanted to take so many courses.”
  • 20. Where is the cost-effectiveness?
    • MEASURES
    • Cost savings over instructor-led training
      • Assume we might have purchased only half the courses
      • Assume only half the time is “lost billable time”
      • Estimate cost “savings”
    • Cost savings on learning for certifications, e.g., PMP, Oracle, Microsoft, Java
    • Cost savings on reference books, e.g., PMBOK, Oracle
    • Cost savings on maintaining PDUs
  • 21. Where is the cost-effectiveness?
    • MEASURES
    • SkillSoft’s ROI calculator: user survey questions ask
      • Estimate of personal Productivity Gain
        • What skill were you seeking?
        • What percentage of your job requires this skill?
        • How much of a skill increase did you experience?
      • Estimate of alternative training costs*
      • Assume only one quarter of licenses experienced similar result, then
        • Estimated Enterprise-Wide ROI = Productivity Gain + Cost Displacement* per respondent x No. of licenses divided by 4
  • 22. Where is the cost-effectiveness?
    • “ Amazing. I found about four books that would have been valuable to projects over the past year that are not locally available. I showed this product to three of our Technical Architects and they all found materials that would be immediately of great use. One of the architects recently spent $125 on a book that was online. This is a phenomenal resource.”
    • “ This gives me access to current information which is more valuable than having a book in my office which is quietly becoming obsolete without me knowing it.”
  • 23. Any other benefits?
    • Visible investment in employee’s career development
    • Promotes retention (ever-present challenge in professional services industry)
    • Recruiting tool
    • Meeting expectations of current generation of workers
  • 24. Maintaining C-level support
    • Are we delivering on the promise?
    • Measures of success
      • How much is e-learning being used and what for?
      • How is it helping us deliver a better service to our clients?
      • How is it helping the value of our consultants increase?
      • How are we achieving the above in a cost-effective way?
      • Any other benefits?
      • How are we sustaining success?
  • 25. How are we sustaining success?
    • Building e-learning into the fabric of the enterprise
    • CORPORATE “PUSH”
    • Mappings of e-learning resources
      • Core competencies for all consultants
      • Job families: role > level > responsibilities/activities >skills > e-learning resources
      • Tools for career development planning
    • Sierra corporate folders by topic for Books24x7
    • Education request process promotes SkillSoft as first stop when shopping
  • 26. How are we sustaining success?
    • CORPORATE “PUSH”
    • Ongoing communication plan
      • CEO messages, business unit leader messages
      • Articles, especially with user testimonials
      • Periodic company-wide e-mails
      • Leader’s Guide equips management with FAQs in advance
    • SkillPort 7.0 has created re-branding opportunity
      • Webinars
      • Posters
      • Contests
  • 27. How are we sustaining success?
    • New marketing theme as of April 14, 2009
  • 28. How are we sustaining success?
    • BUSINESS UNIT “PULL”
    • Use of e-learning resources by:
    • Location-based PMP study groups
    • Junior Business Analyst Study Group
    • Special Interest Group (SIG) meetings
    • Internal “certification programs,” e.g., for Sierra managed services solutions
  • 29. Lessons learned
    • What engages C-level support is the promise
      • Supported by evidence: best is your own
      • Next best is information for your industry, next best is research reports on general trends
    • What maintains C-level support is business results
      • Business units must champion the value
      • Corporate can “push” but the business must “pull”
    • Make the most of the intangible results
      • It’s more than usage statistics
      • Two anecdotes do not make a dataset, but comments from an outspoken respected business champion carry weight
  • 30. Lessons learned
    • You’re never done marketing
      • User community
      • Middle management – need special attention
      • C-level
    • Be proactive
    • Act on the feedback you receive
    • Art and science
  • 31. Questions