Recession beating tips

by | Oct 31, 2008 | Articles

With job cuts perhaps on the way and a drive to cut costs here are eight ways trainers can preserve the one and deliver the other. 

1. Introduce e-coaching supported by a shared working tool.

Getting virtual teams to work better together speeds up transformation, improves production, enhances customer service and cuts costs; just what is needed in a recession. It capitalises on the skills of the existing workforce spreading the knowledge of the experts around the organisation by e-coaching. But when the coach is not immediatelt to hand the support tool is.

In the case of Johnson Controls they used the QuickwinsTM tool from Relay Consultants.   This provides an operational change approach aligning small crossorganisational teams with strategic change initiatives that are typically delivered in parallel over longer time-frames.

But other and cheaper methods can be made to work (See the Coke-Cola story mentioned below). The ingrediants needed are: good internet access across the company (not always Broadband), subject experts or tutors who are prepared to work on-line, telephones, access to a discussion forum that can be focused on specific topics (and for guidance on discussion forums read how London Gifted and Talented do it) and learners who are willing to learn and collaborate on-line.

2. Get a steer from the Royal Navy.

If you think your subject is too practical; think again. The Royal School of Marine Engineering trains engineering, a very practical subject. E-learning increased the amount of time spent on practical activity and reduced the overall length of the training saving more than was spent; and trainees still quailfy as Modern Apprentices.
The e-learning simplifies the theory of electrical circuits, fluid flow, hydraulics, propulsion systems and a host of other marine systems. It makes it easier to understand and is available 24/7 for those who want to revise or get ahead. The case study is coming soon but meanwhile listen to Cdr Andy Cree of HMS Sultan

A similar approach might use video recordings of maintenace tasks especialy on equipment that is diificult for people to get to. Video can be simple to shoot and edit well with the expertise of a subject specialist or trainer.

3. Follow the lead of Subject experts; they produce content.

Bowie Castlebank  has produced four major courses in 4 months. They estimate that the same courses would have cost over £100,000 to commission externally. The courses were launched over a new company intranet and although there were teething problems with the PC’s and intranet, the uptake rate of 57% was excellent compared to the 30% that Bowie Castlebank had researched as the norm externally. In addition they have been able to re-organise how they deliver training at an estimated saving of £300,000. How’s that for recession beating.

They used Atlantic Link but there are other rapid e-learning tools click the tag on Towards Maturity or read the article by Kineo

4. Think about the environment

The Environment Agency have to do that all the time. That may not have been the over riding factor in investing in e-learning in water law but that has been a benefit as well as eliminating travel costs when training the inspectors who licence the abstraction of water by companies. The task is not particuarly frequent but all Inspectors need the training. Learners are located throughout the UK and previously attended a classroom course. Now they learn in their own office and are tested on their knowledge not only eliminating travel costs but they no longer have to wait for a course to be arranged; they get the learning when they need it. An additional benefit is that inspectors can refresh their knowledge easily just before visiting a client.

This course uses a story telling approach for a largely theoritcal topic but the second tip from the Environment Agency

5. Use virtual walk throughs instead of actual visits

The Agency give permits to intensive farming units (large pig and poultry farms to you and me). This is another infrequently performed task but inspectors must be familar with large pig farms; the e-learning solution uses a simulated farm visits. Read the case study.  This is a sophisticated product from Can Studios Ltd with simulations of the farms that change as the learners make decisions. Possible applications of this technique might be health and safety inspections, technical maintenance (perhaps of heating systems), factory equipment, any situation where the learner has to travel to a site to learn a task.

Similar benefit may be achieved with simplified walk throughs; perhaps recording video and editing into a framework that reflects the layout of the facility to be visited. The same type of learning can be undetaken with the difference that learners cannot see the consequences of their actions.

6. Get advice from the Pensions Requlator

The word from the Pensions Requlator is that print costs plus distribution and storage costs are more than the cost of developing e-learning. Listen to Terry Clayworth telling you what they did. They used to distribute workbooks and study packs to Trustees of Pensions Funds around the country. They commissioned e-learning from Epic and this cost less than the print, storage and distribution annual charges; not only recession beating but good for the environment.

7. Take a leaf out of Coke-Cola’s Book
Eliminate travel costs by taking the classroom to the learners, at home and in the office. This is the approach used by Coke-Cola to train staff in South America from Europe.  A combination of a virtual classroom Webex , telephone conferencing, a discussion web site, survey tools and on-line management tools and expert tutors meant that learners stayed at the office (or in many cases at home) during virtual classroom sessions that were supported over time with the various other tools.
The course worked much as a classroom course woudl with periods of individual work (off-line), syndicate work (using the discussion forums), asking questions (via the survey tool and the virtual classroom) and interactive presentations (via the virtual classroom).

The result was about 6 days of intensive study and practice ove a period of three weeks during which learners attended 6 90 minute virtual classroom sessions with the remainder of the work being done at times to suit their personal convenience and the demands of the business.

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