Speed to Proficiency     Creating a sustainable competitive advantage



A convergence of learning and knowledge management

ConvergenceThere has been a lot of talk over the years about the convergence of learning and knowledge management; I’d like to provide a concrete example.

Our customer was the 10,000 person IT department of a Fortune 50 organization, implementing a new time accounting/project management system, and extensive policies and procedures for their use.

They faced several challenges. The previous implementation of an early version of the software had failed, and only a small minority of employees were using it. However, failure now was not an option as time had to be accounted in the new version. There was little appetite for eLearning as the past training consisted of 160-slide eLearning megaliths. There were 300+ pages of arcane policies and procedures that had to be taught, which contained many procedures that simply didn’t work. And, of course, the software itself was complex.

Our solution was to first break the learning into small chunks like “start a project,” “close a project” or “create an order of magnitude estimate”. For each we taught the same way – a short CBT teaching principles followed by a demo and simulation.

But the heavy lifting was carried by the knowledge base we created. Its taxonomy followed the steps a project manager took during the life-cycle of a project. Each page was organized the same way. If it was a process page, it contained the inputs, outputs, responsibilities, time frame, and links to appropriate procedure pages. Each page also contained relevant resources, from P&P pages through Excel workbooks to links to appropriate experts’ profiles.

The last learning activity for each “chunk” was a scavenger hunt asking 10-15 questions for which the learner needed to go into knowledge base. Training time was dramatically reduced, as we trained to the tool, which was then persistently available for just-in-time learning afterwards. A spin-off benefit was that when P&Ps changed, the change could quickly be made in the knowledge base without needing expensive re-work of eLearning modules.

The customer was extremely happy with the solution. Not only did learners “take” to eLearning now that it was being done right, but training time was cut by 50% with a 96% completion rate. Manager surveys indicated that they were extremely satisfied with employee’s ability to use the new system. And best of all everyone’s getting paid, so something was done right!

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