2007 Learning In Practice Vendor Award Winners

This year, CLO magazine added the Vendor Awards to recognize service providers that delivered innovative and effective learning solutions.


Gold: Ninth House

Leadership at American Express, a $64 billion financial services company with 65,000 employees throughout 45 countries worldwide, means creating exceptional outcomes for shareholders, customers and employees. They have built a talent strategy and leadership model that is intrinsically tied to their key leadership values: integrity, customer commitment, quality, personal accountability, teamwork, respect and citizenship. Senior leaders are held accountable to create goals and plans for their employees, engage and develop key talent for retention, and inspire a culture of diversity.

However, as an organization in the service industry, American Express realized that part of its overall talent strategy must include the ongoing development of employees at all levels of the organization. It is their people on the front lines who ultimately create the American Express customer experience.

A greater focus was needed to deliver training and development to more than just their top-tier leaders. They needed a solution targeted to their 20,000-plus directors and people managers that would truly effect behavioral change across the entire organization. Additionally, the program needed to be scalable to reach their widely geographically dispersed audience.

American Express turned to Ninth House to help them build a program to achieve these goals. With their Situational Leadership II course as an anchor, Ninth House designed a solution using a blended-learning approach.

Written by leadership expert Ken Blanchard, Situational Leadership II teaches leaders the right management and coaching skills to assist in building their employees’ competence and productivity. It provides a model whereby leaders partner with direct reports and diagnose and develop unique action plans, which empowers managers with the techniques to adjust their leadership style to their employees’ individual development levels.

The integrated, blended delivery of the solution involved several components:

• First the participants attended a classroom-type kickoff event where they discussed the focus of the program, the learning process and expectations, as well as how to apply the learning to their business.
• Participants then took the self-directed online SLII course.
• Following completion of the course, participants attended a wrap-up event that was a virtual classroom experience.

During this event, participants were encouraged to talk about what they had learned with their teams and their managers and how best to apply this learning, and they also were given an internally developed sustainability tool to facilitate one-on-one follow-up conversations with their leaders.

To gauge the sustained effectiveness of the program and quantify ROI, American Express implemented a rigorous measurement plan. They used the Kirkpatrick/Phillips five levels of learning, which was augmented by a sixth level: Transfer Climate. This level was developed by American Express researcher Paul Leone, and it measures the extent to which factors in a participant’s immediate work environment were either helping or hindering the “transfer” of the learning back to the job.

Their findings concluded that the blended-learning approach offered significantly higher impact than online courses alone and at a much lower cost than classroom-based training. In fact, the blended approach achieved a productivity increase 2.4 times greater than stand-alone online classes. At half the cost, it also achieved more than double the ROI than that of the classroom-based training.

Silver: Allen Interactions

Ecolab is a world leader in commercial cleaning and sanitizing, with 23,000 associates in 160 countries who help organizations in the food service, food and beverage, health care, hospitality, government and education, retail, commercial facilities, textile care and vehicle care industries.

Prior to developing a blended learning solution that included technology, Ecolab trained new managers with an instructor-led curriculum and self-study workbooks. Under the leadership of Dave Hooker, vice president of sales training, the company analyzed the curriculum and performance of its field sales managers.

This analysis determined that the existing curriculum was outdated, very expensive, passive and lengthy. Gap analysis in the field also indicated performance issues on product knowledge and the ability to solution sell.
At the same time this analysis was occurring, Ecolab was developing a new electronic system to manage data flow and processing for all of its clients. Field sales representatives each received a tablet PC with the new system to manage all parts of their clients’ business including service calls, ordering and territory management.

With technology in the field, Ecolab hired Allen Interactions as a consultant and a custom learning solutions development partner. They analyzed the entire new-hire curriculum and developed a new strategy for new-hire training. Hooker and Allen Interactions put together a four-year learning strategy to address the needs of the existing territory managers and district managers and met with the company’s executive leadership. Their strategy outlined how costs would be reduced with a one-year payback and how sales performance would increase as a result of the new training.

Ecolab partnered with Allen Interactions to develop 26 courses that would become part of the new blended learning solution for the new hire workplace learning curriculum. The courses were developed in Flash and delivered in multiple formats (CDs, on the tablet PC and through a corporate LMS).

Now in year two, costs have been reduced with a one-year payback, as was presented to the Ecolab executive team. Initial metrics indicate the new blended curriculum has led to higher performance. In the study of one course, sales increased 119 percent in the groups that received that training versus the ones that did not.


Gold: Prometric

Founded in 1933, the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) is one of 24 certifying boards that comprise the American Board of Medical Specialties, and it is tasked with certifying general pediatricians and pediatric subspecialists to ensure high-quality care for infants, children and adolescents. The certification of medical providers by the ABP, via the careful review of professional credentials and administration of continuous evaluation of practitioners’ core competencies, provides a layer of protection for the American public in its efforts to ensure that ABP board-certified physicians are maintaining their competence in the field.

As a way of continuously evaluating the skill sets of physicians, the ABP administers more than 5,000 recertification examinations each year as part of the Maintenance of Certification Process. When the organization made the decision to move the recertification exam from paper-based to computer-based testing, it needed a testing vendor that was global, secure and willing to work with it as a true partner throughout the entire exam conversion and maintenance process. The ABP found that partner in Prometric, a leader in testing and assessment services.

Prometric provided the ABP with the secure facilities needed to support their mission to protect the public good, along with the global availability required for candidate accessibility. The ABP was also assured of having the right number of seats at the right time, thanks to the flexibility of Prometric’s online scheduling software and the individual test centers within the Prometric network.

One issue that could have derailed the start and the continuation of the project was the test driver itself. Due to the complex and scientific nature of the exam, the ABP sought to develop and maintain its own test-delivery driver, so that they could maintain complete control over the exam’s content and format. For many networks, the implementation of such a nonstandard piece of software could create utter chaos and throw the entire operation in jeopardy. But Prometric’s team of developers worked with the ABP’s internal development team to ensure that whatever challenges arose could be quickly dealt with.

The ABP and Prometric also worked together to effectively communicate and prepare candidates for changes within the testing environment. When a new biometrics initiative was due to be launched within testing centers for the recertification exam, Prometric and the ABP worked together to educate candidates about the process and what they should expect when they entered the center. Prometric even provided candidates with online demonstrations of format changes, including sign-on procedures and sample questions, to increase familiarity with the process and the software prior to the actual administration.

The partnership is continuing to grow, with Prometric aiding the ABP in the continued evolution of its CBT program. This is being achieved in part through the implementation of Prometric’s proprietary item banking technology, known as Intelitest, which will allow ABP to more efficiently manage its own test items, quickly refresh test content, and enhance the examination development and delivery process for all of its CBT examinations.

With all of these solutions, the relationship between the ABP and Prometric has grown beyond “client-vendor” to a true partnership.

Silver: Performance Impact

Performance Impact won the Silver Award for the development, implementation and support of Merck & Co.’s flagship program for new manager development, Managing@Merck (M@M). The program is the company’s most complex and challenging learning program and reaches global audiences in more than 24 countries.
When Merck realized its new manager orientation program did not equip managers with necessary skills, Performance Impact helped the company define and develop M@M.

The new training program facilitated early development of management skills such as leadership and coaching through a comprehensive, blended program featuring media-rich situational case studies, video scenarios and on-the-job activities that realistically depict the managerial role to ensure instructional relevance.

Last year, Merck and Performance Impact embarked on an effort to extend the program across global operations and to update it for several new strategic leadership initiatives.

Performance Impact revamped the entire three-month management training course to meet rolling launch dates in Europe, Asia and South America. All program components were reviewed and updated to ensure they met specific localization requirements. The five-phase blended learning solution includes two facilitator-led classroom sessions with videos and computer simulations, seven Web-based modules, 12 virtual classrooms, 36 manager/mentor-guided activities, and countless online job aids and tools — all supported through a dedicated M@M learning portal. To date, the M@M program has been translated into four languages (and will be available in nine languages by the end of 2007).

Performance Impact also manages the translation efforts of the globalization vendor, trains all of the trainers and coaches around the globe, supports the hardware requirements for all classroom facilities globally and maintains the master classroom schedule.
Additionally, Performance Impact rolled out Merck’s HR training for managers to the global research community last year. The vendor team also developed and implemented other learning solutions for Merck last year, including a software application training for performance management processes globally, a classroom training with competitive computer simulations to promote understanding of what it takes to work well in the organization, and a high-performance organization (HPO) strategic initiative for all Merck employees.


Gold: PulseLearning

CA (formerly Computer Associates), one of the world’s largest software companies, recently decided to outsource the program management, project management and content development of instructor-led courses. The main objectives behind this move were to reduce overheads, increase productivity, reduce time-to-market and enable CA management to focus on longer-term business strategy. CA also wanted to move toward blended learning solutions to place more emphasis on self-paced and Web-based development.

PulseLearning was selected by CA with the stated goal of accelerating clients’ educational mandates through measurable solutions based on specific objectives.

Specifically, PulseLearning defined its commitment to CA as follows:

• Support CA in its focus on core business requirements.
• Help CA improve profitability through cost reductions
and time-to-market.
• Accelerate CA’s ability to make substantive improvements
in learning processes.
• Provide scalability for CA to achieve its change agenda.
• Respond flexibly to CA’s business challenges.

Before engaging PulseLearning to develop their training solutions, CA had a 14- to 16-week development cycle. This consumed time, money and resources, and was at odds with the business goals that the company was pursuing. Tasked with devising, implementing and managing development processes that reduced time-to-market, PulseLearning created two new development processes. The selection of which process to employ was based on the availability of SMEs and the development cycle of the application software.

“Before outsourcing training development to PulseLearning, CA developed 270 days of training with a staff of 50 people in-house,” said Mike Yakiemchuk, vice president of education for CA Technology Services. “Today, with PulseLearning’s assistance, CA has developed 411 days of training for the same cost. That represents a 52 percent increase in productivity that can be attributed directly to the success of the outsourcing arrangement.

“CA also benefits financially from the outsourcing relationship with PulseLearning by moving away from a significant fixed cost with in-house resources to an on-demand pricing structure, which means we only pay for resources as and when we need them.”

As part of a broad change in the corporate structure, CA outsourced learning content development services to PulseLearning. To date, CA has seen a 50 percent reduction of development time, with attendant savings on cost and resources, and a 50 percent reduction of time-to-market. All training solutions are available within four weeks or less of a software product release.

“The challenge of working with CA and helping them to meet their business and learning goals has been immense,” said Jim Breen, chief executive officer of PulseLearning. “It has required us to be creative, flexible and to adapt more than we ever had to with any other client. But the challenge has also been hugely rewarding; just as it has proven a success for CA, it has brought home to us the market requirements for outsourcing and how best they can be achieved through real partnership.”

Silver: ACS Learning Services

As part of its long-standing teaming with a “big four” professional services firm, ACS Learning Services supplies the outsourced design, development and governance of learning technology, content development, talent management and administration services for the firm. ACS team members build and support all the learning and development systems, design, tools and processes the firm needs.

This undertaking entailed development of a robust competency management and performance management and development system to support the firm’s global decentralized administration model. The first stage of the project combined access to performance management with learning management through a single portal interface.

Using this new system, the firm now manages their technical learning with enterprise mandates against performance goals and milestones. The project brings this capability to all 114,000 personnel worldwide.

ACS also provided solutions to leverage the firm’s existing infrastructure to better assess and manage the organization’s talent. ACS conducted research that took them around the globe, capturing the linkages and gaps between the firm’s “future state” client service professional and current state profiles.

The result was a new role profiles and competency framework and the technical requirements for platform integration and enhancement, which enabled decentralized administration of performance cycles, annual plans and competency assessments; reporting to enable administrators to monitor status and ensure compliance; a reliable competency management interface; role analysis based on the employee’s current or aspirational role; and an embedded analysis tool that identifies developmental needs.

Periodic feedback reports are integrated into the individual’s internal firm “passport,” so the individual and the organization have a clear view of employee potential and a pathway to success. Other services provided by ACS include documentation of measurement scope and approach, identification of tracking/reporting requirements and audit procedures, communication and training, and change management strategy.


Gold: GeoLearning

Altiris, a leading provider of service-oriented management software that allows IT organizations to manage, secure and service IT assets, was looking for a learning management solution to implement for a training commerce initiative targeting its clients’ end users.

Altiris needed a robust and intuitive learning management system to manage online and instructor-led IT training, and also required robust e-commerce functionality to calculate multiple international currencies, including U.S. dollars, Japanese yen, Singapore dollars, New Zealand dollars, Australian dollars, British sterling pounds and euros. As an extension of its multiple-
currency provision, Altiris also required that its solution calculate domestic state taxes and the international Value-Added Tax (VAT) and Goods and Services Tax (GST), which are required for international transactions.
Additionally, Altiris required a flexible system that could be integrated with its existing licensing processes and fulfillment tools. This would allow the company to improve existing business processes and incorporate the new LMS and its capabilities to streamline process workflow.

Initially, Altiris had hoped to find an out-of-the-box learning solution that could meet its needs. After conducting a great deal of research, Altiris realized it needed a provider that could centralize instructor-led training and online learning registration, a locator map to help students select instructor-led classes that are offered near them, and an e-commerce system that could provide comprehensive, multiple-currency reporting.

While Altiris already had an e-learning system in place to provide training classes for its clients, it needed help scaling the solution for global use. Through collaboration with Altiris, GeoLearning was able to create a one-stop location to facilitate all of the online and instructor-led course registration needs of the students.

• Online and instructor-led e-learning that is available globally 24x7x365.
• A world map for selecting classes within each student’s learning area.
• A point-and-click function that enables learners to find an instructor-led course being held near them and register for the course at the same time.
• E-commerce functionality capable of handling multiple currencies and credit cards from around the world.
• E-commerce functionality to handle domestic and international taxes.
• Integration from the GeoMaestro LMS to the Altiris ordering tool, thereby eliminating highly manual work and follow-up.

“When taking our training to a global market, we needed a system to handle diverse communication and financial issues,” said Robert Rose, director of global services operations at Altiris. “With GeoLearning, we were able to put a system in place that has helped us to take our learning to a whole new level.”

In the first three months of its inception, the system has hosted 36,000 online training events and registered more than 1,000 customers for instructor-led training classes globally.

With the expansion of its registration program, Altiris has been able to release a new series of lab-based courses that are far more advanced and hands-on than the previous foundation courses. “As our business continues to grow and evolve, our e-learning program must also be flexible and scalable,” Rose said.

Silver: Softscape

LandAmerica Financial Group Inc. provides title insurance, as well as a broad range of real estate transaction services, and operates through more than 1,000 branch offices and a network of more than 10,000 active agents in the Americas. Customers include mortgage lenders, real estate developers and brokers, attorneys, and home buyers and sellers.

Fueled by the nation’s recent housing boom, LandAmerica nearly doubled in size from revenues of $1.8 billion in 2000 to $3.5 billion, acquiring companies, boosting head count to more than 12,000 employees and entering the Fortune 500 for the first time. With an increasingly distributed workforce tasked with managing the real estate transactions for LandAmerica’s clients, it became difficult to consistently measure, develop and train employees and ensure that managers had the tools to grow and retain their key contributors.

LandAmerica chose Softscape’s human capital management platform to align employees’ performance with its corporate mission and drive organizational growth. The integrated solution enabled employees to select learning activities to meet their performance and development goals and empowered them to take charge of their development.

LandAmerica’s Softscape solution included integrated performance, goals, 360-degree feedback and a learning management system that served as the platform for LandAmerica University (LAU), the company’s training and development center. A development wizard helped employees identify appropriate learning opportunities that met their development needs, enroll online and access online courses, all within the application.

In the first 12 months after its launch, LandAmerica conducted more than 20,000 online learning sessions and more than 200 classroom sessions. More than 75 percent of LandAmerica’s employees have used the resources available through LAU.

In addition, as part of its leadership development strategy, LandAmerica has connected the 360-degree feedback of its top 300 leaders into the performance development process. This helps them build their development plan and offers learning solutions through LAU to meet their performance and development goals.