Keeping Training On Track

Finding the best way to train a workforce is the never-ending ordeal of the business world. With its offerings of Internet-based training, click2learn.com has been helping organizations meet this need since 1984. Its Ingenium learning management system has increased the opportunities for employee training by offering a system designed to manage every learning approach, including online, on the job and even instructor-led.

Ingenium includes tracking and skills analysis and course authoring capabilities, as well as access to a variety of off-the-shelf courseware, reporting capabilities, and other features to enhance learning opportunities.

Ingenium's component-based architecture can be scaled to the enterprise or workgroup. The five-component solution allows users to track and launch content built with click2learn's ToolBook II Assistant and Instructor course content authoring tools.

Breaking It Down

Administrators use Ingenium Workstation to manage, as well as administer training. Its graphical learning maps allow administrators and trainers to arrange and track development paths and progress, schedule events and register multiple trainees. Roster management and attendance tracking tools are also offered. Workstation also features corrective remediation options that are linked to the registration process. The user interface is based on Microsoft Office 2000 for ease of use.

Ingenium Web Connect enables self-directed training and career development for employees via the Internet or corporate intranets. Managers can review and approve requests for training, track progress and develop learning plans. Employees can register online for training sessions. Web Connect also includes a calendar function, training gap analysis capabilities and an information and inventory system to track past courses and current actions.

Using Messenger Express, users can automatically notify learners and managers via e-mail of training events, cancellations and registration approvals. Messages are hyperlinked to Web Connect and can also include hyperlinks to training documents or online content.

With Ingenium Report Browser, the solution's report management tool, users can create 80 types or preset reports or customize, create and categorize individual reports. Groups of reports can be automatically distributed to appropriate parties, and data filters can be attached to each report.

The Data Update and Import tool allows data to be exported in Excel or HTML easily.

Putting It Together

White Plains, N.Y.-based starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide faced a challenge in maintaining timely information flow among its 120,000 employees in 80 countries, including the staff of its 12 call centers. Often, promotions offered at its hotels and resorts would appear in print advertisements, but when customers called to inquire about the deal, they encountered call center agents who were unaware of any offer.

In the past, starwood had relied on faxes and e-mail to distribute the information that eventually reached the employees who distributed them to call center associates. There was really no way to ensure that agents received or retained the information from their mailboxes and desktops, and extensive training sessions were often required to bring agents up to date.

Ken Dufault, starwood's manager of new media, realized that the entire enterprise could benefit from a learning management system.

"Being able to track what individuals are doing, what the overall quiz scores are, what the training plans are, what the skills gaps and competencies are, what the jobs are as they relate to the hotel industry and how to measure the level of knowledge at a hotel property is key," Dufault says. "But...if you're not running any type of statistics, you really don't know how to fix the problem. You need to make an investment in corporate knowledge."

"starwood came to us with requirements that weren't different than most of our other customers," says click2learn.com Director of Engineering Jim Federico.

starwood's original implementation targeted the immediate problem: training associates in promotions. Then, in the spring of 2000, starwood put its six largest call centers--about 1,700 associates--on Ingenium. "We got it up and running and in use in one day," Dufault says.

Now, faced with a new promotion or change in the system, the training director uses click2learn's Toolbook Assistant to create a course. That course is then published to the Web server where Ingenium picks it up and automatically registers appropriate associates to take the course. When the associate logs into the starwood system, a training icon pops up that, when clicked, will immediately take the associate through the training. Using Ingenium Workstation, the supervisor can automatically check training status and quiz scores.

Associate learning improved with Ingenium, and downtime has been decreased, Dufault says. "We took that 43-minute process of hauling an associate off the floor and got it down to an average of seven minutes," he says.

While other facets of starwood's return on its Ingenium investment are difficult to quantify, the ROI is nonetheless substantial, Dufault says. "The ROI is your investment in the corporate knowledge of your employees."

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