The world at your fingertips

first_imgThe world at your fingertipsOn 1 Jun 2001 in Auto-enrolment, Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Globalmanagement consultancy KPMG had to respond rapidly to its clients’ needs fornew e-business skills and knowledge. If it was to succeed, however, it had toputs its own house in order firstThedotcom bubble may have burst in the middle of 2000 but, as we all know, theInternet isn’t about to curl up and die. The need for companies to train theirworkforces in the new skills needed for the e-economy remains. Asa leading global management consultancy, KPMG felt this need more than most,with clients demanding e-business solutions of them – and fast. Thecompany needed to equip itself to deliver such new skills and knowledge in a”confident and certified way”, says Grant Ritchie, principalconsultant at KPMG. “We needed to act quickly and transform our positionin the marketplace.” Therewere several inherent logistical difficulties in the training task, namely thatthe company has 22,000 staff, located in 73 countries around the world. Itneeded to train 8,000 of the US workforce in a space of six weeks and theremainder within the year. What’s more, it needed a training programme that wasongoing and which could rapidly upskill its “learning-hungry” staffand keep them up to speed and “on message” at all times, says Ritchie.Inmany ways, the project marked the beginning of more than just a new trainingprogramme at the company. At a time of rapid technological change and whatRitchie calls “dog year” time frames, KPMG was conscious that it hadto be seen to be leading-edge through and through. “We had to establish anew language in our organisation,”says Ritchie. Ithad also embarked on a programme of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) andwanted to develop a training strategy alongside this. Anykind of classroom-based training was out of the question because of thetimescales and geographical locations. The management consultancy also hadother reservations about synchronous classroom learning – among other things,it believed it to be instructor-focused, not learner-focused, and leader-paced,not self-paced. Someform of e-learning or blended learning solution seemed to be the answer, andKPMG surveyed the market. However, it says it found lots of challenges, but nointegrated solutions, with little overlap between those offering content,technology and services.Eventually,KPMG believed it had found a company that could successfully bring together allthree, and engaged Digital Think to implement the training programme. DigitalThink specialises in bespoke e-learning systems, integrating the technology,course content and development. It has a track record of deliveringlarge-scale, tailored solutions that fit with a company’s culture and iscapable of understanding business goals and stretching a client’s thinking. “Wework with a lot of corporates and use e-learning as a strategy tool,” saysTom Murphy, managing director of Digital Think in the UK. “E-learning’seffect should be measurable – it should raise sales and improve the bottomline.”DigitalThink’s application server provider (ASP)-based system (see box) requires nospecial proprietary hardware, software or even plug-ins – it isplatform-independent (runs on PC, Macintosh, and Solaris) and can be accessedvia an average web browser such as Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator. Coursescan be taken up via KPMG’s learning portal, where individuals enrol for theirtraining, and this also acts as a learning management system (LMS) to trackprogress.Itwas important that the system put up no technical barriers for the learners, sothe e-learning solution developed for KPMG was designed to be accessed via anycomputer, anywhere in the world, connected by just a dial-up telephone line andmodem if necessary. A large part of the challenge in a job like this, involvingso many staff, is to ensure the delivery mechanism is up to the job, saysMurphy. “We wanted to make sure we had industrial-strength delivery 24hours a day. Even working across 28k modems, we had to guarantee that pageswould download quickly.” Thecompany works with a number of third parties on its course content, and KPMGwas happy with Digital Think’s e-business/e-commerce curriculum, although itwanted to customise it. It also wanted to combine it with some offline readingand CD-Rom-based material, so creating a hybrid solution. Thecourse, branded Internet 101 by KPMG, runs the full gamut of e-skills fromdefining the Internet and legal and security issues, to launching and managinga website and looking at e-business models and e-commerce fundamentals.”The courses were designed to be taken in bite-size chunks and comprisedaround 40 hours of content,” says Ritchie. Andhow did the workforce take to the idea of e-learning? “No-one really knewwhat to expect, but people found the content engaging and enjoyed theinteractivity,” he says. Staff do tests to assess their knowledge beforeand after the training. Oneof the keys to a successful training programme is to market it to the staff,but KPMG’s stance was even stronger than this, with a clear mandate from thevery top of the company that it must be carried through. “There was nodoubt that there was a strategic need for this training and it was very muchled from the top,” says Ritchie, who adds that even the top-ranking partnershad to do the training.However,motivating people to do the courses initially was the biggest obstacle of thewhole operation. “The change management aspect of it should not beunderestimated,” he says. “We had few technical hitches, but had topersevere with the communication, education and awareness sides of theproject,” he reports.However,the company now has around 25,000 registrations for the online training spreadacross 73 countries. The average student evaluation score is 8.5 out of 10 and98 per cent are certified competent. Perseverance, it would seem, has paid off.NewproceduresThetraining is now moving into its next phase and KPMG is rolling out newappraisal and goal-setting procedures, on-demand knowledge management systems,a range of specialised training programmes including customer relationshipmanagement (CRM), risk management and supply chain management, plus a newe-skilling programme. It is also setting up individual learning accounts,giving the workforce access to over 400 specialist learning programmes. In thisphase, staff are far more “self-driven”, reports Ritchie.Moreimportantly, KPMG can now embark on the objective of the training programme toput its new skills to use for its clients. This includes embedding thenecessary skills in an organisation to manage and improve its e-learningcapability. Ritchiesays he expects to see a return on his investment in e-learning possibly withinmonths, but certainly in less than two years. DigitalThink, meanwhile, recently celebrated the enrolment of its 1,000,000th learnerthrough its learning portal and has also launched the Enterprise Gateway. Thelatter is an open protocol that integrates e-learning with enterprise businessapplications such as CRM and ERM. “Increasingly,e-learning is becoming a core business function in Europe,” explainsMurphy. “And customers are demanding the flexibility to integrate andextend e-learning by embedding it into their enterprise businessapplications.” to KPMGKPMG’srequirement:  A fast and effectiveway to deploy new e-skills and knowledge to a workforce of 25,000, spreadacross 73 countries and in 12 monthsWhy: To become a major player in theInternet economy and service the needs of its clients who require e-businesssolutionsHase-learning delivered?:  22,000people have now registered for the training and 98 per cent are certifiedcompetent. It’s too early to judge the training programme’s impact on thebottom line, but Grant Ritchie expects a return on investment “possiblywithin months” but within two years.InsummaryWhat is an  ASP?Anapplication service provider (ASP) basically allows you to outsource aparticular activity, such as e-learning, but offers access to applicationspertaining to that activity across the Internet. So, if the tools and servicesare branded within your company name, it won’t necessary appear as anoutsourced service to employees. Digital Think goes beyond the ASP approach withits BSP (business solution provider) model, which provides a complete set ofbusiness services and development tools over the Internet. It claims thatorganisations can outsource an entire e-learning solution at a low overallcost. The system can be customised for a particular corporate environment. Kpmg’stop tips 1– Understand how e-learning fits in with your business strategy2– Remember that it is not a panacea for all ills3– Always bear in mind that the medium does not replace the need forgood-quality contentlast_img read more