Williams Scotsman cuts training costs by 30+ percent
The pace of corporate training has reached an unprecedented rate. Training departments that once had the time and money to print courseware and fly attendees to multi-day sessions are nearly obsolete. Now, it’s online or bust. With rapid changes in technology, increased expectations for productivity and decreased tolerance for non-essential travel, companies are rethinking old training policies and practices.
Unlike the many companies struggling to keep pace, Williams Scotsman (WS) has been ahead of the curve in building a new model for corporate training. Throughout the company’s 50-year history, WS trainers have delivered traditional live classroom training. The organization began to reach a breaking point, however, when its training staff of only five people became responsible for educating nearly 900 employees as a result of rapid growth. The company realized a clear and immediate need for a distance-learning solution to support its diverse workforce across more than 100 locations in North America and Europe.
“At that time with so much change and expansion, we knew we’d need to double or triple our training staff or come up with an entirely new solution,” notes Ross Thornton, the company’s training manager. “After assessing the options, iLinc proved to be the best solution for providing frequent, content-rich training.”
INCREASING TRAINING EFFICIENCY
WS implemented its first iLinc software in 2000, originally endeavoring to reduce sales team challenges associated with traditional training (like travel time and costs, productivity losses and retention). With iLinc, trainers could deliver more frequent sessions in shorter durations, which subsequently proved to increase comprehension and retention levels. WS quickly reduced rollout time for new sales functions and tools while increasing overall training offerings.
Shortly after the sales rollout, the company expanded its use of iLinc across its entire workforce, producing training on everything from software skills and regulatory compliance to new-hire orientation and HR programs. Today, Williams Scotsman’s live instructors utilize iLinc to lead and control classes of geographically distributed students with all of the interaction and flexibility of a traditional classroom.
Instructors choose from varied forms of synchronized content within the iLinc interface, including PowerPoint slides, multimedia authored courseware, Web-based material, streaming video, white boarding, chatting and shared software applications.
WS adopted iLinc as the ideal medium for introductory and enhanced function training on its proprietary Sales Force Automation (SFA) software, as well as for more personalized on-the-job training. In its initial rollout of two proprietary software tools, Williams Scotsman delivered 795 hours of training in just nine weeks with no travel disruptions or expenses.
CONTINUING TO LEVERAGE
Today, several departments rely on iLincWeb and audio conferencing for meetings and online collaboration. And the training department has developed a comprehensive learning program, Williams Scotsman University (WSU), which delivers both online and traditional classroom courses. WSU staff takes advantage of the ability to record training sessions and make them available for self-paced study. The result is a full-service experience for learners — synchronous, asynchronous and in-person options — and continuing success for trainers.
“Our blended learning model is embraced by our staff because it doesn’t force any one method,” points out Williams Scotsman senior training specialist Ronald Hoogerwerf. “The vast majority of courses are taken online via iLinc, but the perception is that individuals can choose to supplement these classes in a way that works for them. It gives our learners more flexibility and enables them to learn more, faster than ever before.”
MEASURING THE BENEFITS
WS touts increased efficiency as the most significant benefit of iLinc. The training staff cites its ability, for example, to roll out a new application to up to 400 employees across 100 locations in a period of two to three weeks — a dramatic reduction from the old days of traditional training.
“We’re able to focus our time and energy on content because we don’t have to worry about the iLinc tool,” says Hoogerwerf. “Even in compressed timeframes, we’re able to focus on curriculum, rather than hassling over the technology.”
Williams Scotsman’s long term success with iLinc stands out as an example of how to achieve technology-driven efficiencies. In 2003, a staff of nine trainers delivered 4935 hours of training (including a small percentage of self-paced study). By 2006, a staff of only six delivered 13,852 hours — a productivity increase of 321 percent per trainer. During that same span, Williams Scotsman reduced training costs by more than 30 percent and increased online training participation by 195 percent.
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