Knowing how to expand your training reach to external learners can seem confusing and even daunting. But extended enterprise training can have huge rewards—so long as you harness it correctly.
Recent research conducted with more than 1,000 businesses and carried out by learning analysts Fosway Group has shown that seven out of ten organizations believe digital learning has the most impact on their product training. Among these companies increased learning ability, improved agility, increased speed of learning, and enhanced learner engagement are some of the main drivers for implementing eLearning across all areas of the business.
The challenge is, how do you deliver your product training to organizations outside of your own? Successfully implementing extended enterprise training relies heavily on navigating the hurdles that arise when customer product training reaches outside of your internal business systems. (See my February 12, 2019 Learning Solutions article, "Extended Enterprise Is a Game Changer for Product Training.") How do you ensure clients are accessing the latest version of a course? How do you easily deliver training to hundreds (or thousands) of client LMSs? How do you gain visibility into usage?
Whatever your circumstances and infrastructure, there are a range of technical "hurdles" associated with distributing training content to third-party systems outside of your LMS.
In this article we’ll take a look at some of the most common challenges associated with implementing a distributed training model, and provide an approach for more easily managing product training across systems.
Delivering your courses to disparate learning systems
If you’re sharing your training content with multiple audiences, you’ll almost certainly be relying on a variety of systems beyond your internal LMS to deliver those courses. Taking learning outside of your system requires a strategy for delivering content. For example, you might be looking to deliver courses to:
● Client LMSs, LXPs or other learning platforms
● Distribution partner LMSs
● Reseller LMSs
● Internal employees via your LMS
● External client portals
Internal training tends to be relatively straightforward to deliver, and is usually a simple case of importing the course into the LMS and assigning it to the right employees. However, it’s harder to control how your partners deliver your product training. How do you know training is even being used?
Connectivity with your partners’ existing systems is important. In many cases you might need to deliver courses to your clients’ preferred learning platform.
This provides the added bonus of giving them the ability to correlate and manage all of the reports about how their employees interact with your content, and align this with other training reports. We’ll talk more about that later in this article.
Inevitably, there will be cases in which your customers and partners don’t have a training platform in place. When that happens, the best approach is to clearly define what can and can’t be done—otherwise you might unintentionally turn into an LMS provider, which most organizations don’t have on their roadmap.
You could meet this challenge by licensing an off-the-shelf LMS or even creating a training portal that allows the delivery of your training directly to users.
Keeping up to speed with the latest product information
Speed of change is one of the greatest challenges facing organizations that provide product training. If we think of employees working in customer-facing or sales roles, there’s a clear need to be able to understand and explain complex products.
In technical practice, it is crucial that new versions of your courses are released regularly to keep up with new product features, best practices, and regulations. The best way to give a global cross section of employees, customers, and partners access to the most current and accurate information is through up-to-date digital learning at an enterprise level.
This means you need to consider how to manage the distribution of courseware so that new versions of training can be easily shared across a variety of systems. The right technical expertise makes this process far less complicated than it used to be. For example, a solution that enables you to centrally host your training content allows you to seamlessly deliver the most up-to-date training to hundreds of LMSs automatically.
Gaining insights into the impact of your learning is critical
The only way to know if your training content is working is to track it. In the past, learning was a passive activity across companies, with executive teams having little (or no) idea of who was engaging with training tools—even if a lot of time had been put into creating them.
Historically, it’s been even harder to measure the impact of learning when it’s delivered by third parties. Fortunately, having the right technical infrastructure from the start can give you wide-ranging, invaluable insights into the actual usage of your training.
With the right data-gathering and analytics tools, you can validate what you’re building and using, and prove that it’s properly serving your audience and growing their knowledge. According to a Brandon Hall study, almost 90 percent of organizations think reporting and analytics is the most important factor in extended enterprise technology. At Rustici Software, one of the ways we help companies make the most of their extended enterprise learning efforts is by providing products that provide insights into course usage—including question-level analytics—no matter what platform the course is delivered to.
Organizations use these reporting tools to understand who uses their courses, and how. This breakthrough allows them to spot patterns across clients and learners, and create strategic content plans and more effective courses, leading to business results.
With the right technology you can truly understand what’s happening as you deliver content, and whether your objectives (such as reduced customer care calls or improved sales) are being accomplished.
The solutions are out there
While the provision of external training undoubtedly brings with it a number of technical considerations, successfully implementing programs outside of your existing LMS is a rewarding process.
We have seen organizations successfully implement an extended enterprise approach by centrally managing eLearning courses and seamlessly delivering them to third-party systems. Whether you want to improve compliance and product awareness or maximize client retention and reduce support costs, the solutions available today give you the power to take advantage. Extended enterprise learning is an opportunity not to be missed.