Four Strategies to Help SMB's Leverage E-Learning

On-Demand Learning and Performance Solutions Can Improve Your Ability to Tackle Learning Challenges

Small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) are joining the elearning and performance revolution in rapid succession.

The streamlined approach to e-learning offered by softwareas- a-service (SaaS) models makes assessing, delivering and measuring training as common and critical to SMBs as they are to large enterprises. In fact, research by Bersin & Associates shows that approximately 20 percent of e-learning expenditures now come from companies with fewer than 1,000 employees, and the percentage is growing.

E-learning capabilities have become necessary for SMBs to compete and grow in a global economy. It is a strategic necessity to address the challenges of training widely-dispersed employees, business partners and customers that are diverse in terms of the work they do, their IT experience, and their educational background.

Similar to their large corporate counterparts, many SMBs are now considering a multistage approach to e-learning, starting with their own employees, and then extending to customers and ultimately channel partners. In fact, SMBs may actually have a competitive advantage over larger organizations when starting or expanding an e-learning program because they often have little or no legacy e-learning technology when compared with large organizations. SMBs can essentially “leapfrog” directly to the forefront of the latest e-learning technology and use it to maximize performance and revenues.

FOUR STEPS
1)Start with Compliance –
Sixteen states have laws and regulations requiring or encouraging sexual harassment preventiontraining. For example, in California, employers with at least 50 employees must provide supervisors with two hours of interactive harassment awareness training every two years. Many SMB organizations are also impacted by other regulation compliance such as HIPAA, Sarbanes Oxley and OSHA. Each of these regulations has its own set of training requirements that SMBs are held to as much as large organizations. With requirements for logging and auditing compliance mounting, SMBs are consequently turning to e-learning to educate employees about legal requirements in the workplace. SMBs with remote offices and global operations face extra challenges in delivering compliance training, tutorials and training courses to remote employees cost-effectively because of travel costs, long distances and a shortage of instructors. SMBs can implement focused, on-demand e-learning to develop critical compliance skills for workers engaged in businesses or operations across regions, national borders, cities or companies.

2)Align Goals to Improve Performance –

SMBs seeking to unlock their company’s full potential can use online learning and performance management to ensure that all employees understand how each specific job/role contributes to achieving the company’s overall business goals. Success for the employee and the company can be driven by establishing a formal process for creating relevant goals for each employee, setting learning activities to support these goals, and monitoring/measuring performance against company objectives. Many SMBs are collecting positive results from this strategic approach to talent development and performance management, including:
>> Employees and managers achieve more through greater visibility into both individual and companywide goals.

>> All employees have access to the strategic plan for the company’s success and understand how individual goals fit into the company’s business objectives.

>> Managers more easily stay in touch with employees’ progress during every phase of goal completion, and offer immediate reinforcement or coaching to keep performance and deadlines on track.

Getting started with performance management can be overwhelming to some SMBs — but it doesn’t have to be. Start with communicating and managing organizational core values to lay the groundwork for maximizing competencies and goals.

3) Build Customer Satisfaction –

Froman internal learning perspective, SMBs can lessen growing pains associated with improving andmaintaining high service levels by using e-learning. Call centers, sales and service staff are crucial to maintaining customer relationships, so offering updated, consistent, on-demand training for employees in those areas can have a direct impact on profits.

From an external training perspective, customers increasingly seek value-added services when choosing between competing providers and desire access to on-demand training resources. Enterprises can use elearning with customers to support customers after the sale and improve customer satisfaction and retention. For example, a small software company can make training available through an e-learning portal to it’s customers about how to use the specific product modules. In addition,many SMBs offer training for a fee to customers as an additional revenue stream.

4) Improve Channel Readiness

Delivering knowledge, information and training to an audience beyond employees is one of the fastest growing segments of the learning industry, increasing at an annual pace better than 25 percent (Bersin & Associates). Similarly, competitive SMBs are looking outside of their own organizations for revenue opportunities and partnerships that can help expedite the distribution of their products and services. These outward-facing, revenue-building initiatives will require the delivery of
training, certification programs and knowledge assets to an SMB organization’s extended enterprise of franchises/ franchisees, partners, resellers, independent agents and distributor networks. E-learning delivered online and on-demand can help organizations increase top-line revenue from more productive channels, enhance information sharing with external audiences, develop and rapidly deliver training, improve the quality and convenience of training to an external audience, and reach large audiences at a fixed cost.

REALIZING THE BENEFITS

Although SMBs are often structured and equipped differently than their larger competitors, their needs related to compliance, performance management and communicating with external learning audiences are just as significant. By properly approaching learning and performance management, SMBs can gain significant advantages against the competition.

Exploring the use of ondemand learning and performance solutions can dramatically improve an SMB’s ability to tackle learning and performance management challenges for internal and external audiences with greater efficiency and influence.

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