by Nick Mead
Published on 8 March 2016
Extended enterprise training (EET) is all about ensuring those connected with your company - such as suppliers, contractors and freelancers - are trained in the methods, culture and systems of your business.
It's especially important to those employers and businesses that work on a franchise model such as fast food restaurants because success depends on their partner network. This is also true for resellers, authorized support centers, subsidiaries and other symbiotic relationships where the values, operating procedures and know-how of an organization needs to spread to its partners. This is where EET software comes in.
The idea and the software behind EET is usually similar or the same as those used in learning management systems (LMS), but extends training beyond your core workforce to all partners connected with your business.
Eleni Miliou, marketing manager of Epignosis, parent company of eFrontPro and TalentLMS LMS solutions, says the benefits of an EET program, and specifically an eLearning one, are principally in terms of training costs and control. "With an EET program, a business gains the ability to centrally deploy and manage training across its whole partner network, and even across the globe, in a cost and time effective way," she explains. "Moreover, it gets finer control of what is taught and the quality of the training than it would have by simply providing some training manuals or similar guides and letting partners implement their own training schemes."
More control over training content and methodology also means that your company network becomes more standardized and predictable -especially important for customer service industries - but also makes it more agile. The holding or parent company can quickly and easily issue new training modules to every part of its extended network as soon as the need arises.
However, deploying an EET solution isn't always straightforward, depending on how far and wide your network is spread. "A key issue is that you cannot assume that your extended enterprise learners share the same background either with your in-company learners or even between different external partners. You might have to tailor your training content appropriately to their level," says Miliou.
For small business networks operating within a single country or state, this might not be much of a problem, but when dealing with companies that have offices in different countries, running an extended enterprise program is much more complex. For instance, on a basic level, you have to take into account localization issues and time zone differences when scheduling webinars or other real-time training activities sessions. On a more complex level, there are cultural issues to take into account as well as differences in local business practices and regulations, in which case the core training materials have to be adapted appropriately for each region.
Miliou adds: "A result of these considerations is that technical support may have to be available at all hours along with, of course, the instructors too. If the company has several branches across the world, it then has to hire support staff and instructors in several select locations so that between them they cover as many hours as possible."
This is where EET software can help as it can be designed to reflect the organizational structure of the entire network to make it more adapted and customized for regional and global rollout. Miliou says: "When implementing an EET program, it's important that the LMS allows us to correctly reflect the organizational structure of the partner network. This gives us control and supervision over what content gets assigned to which partners and what the progress is at individual branches."
One such EET solution is eFrontPro which includes several organizational tools, such as branches, sub branches and job positions, that can be used to customize different kinds of training for different organizational structures and extended enterprise networks. This allows instructors using the LMS to provide tailored trainings to all job lines.
"Teachers or trainers can customize courses to particular branches and subbranches vertically or across everybody holding certain job positions horizontally," says Miliou. "You can have a different supervisor per branch such as someone working in local office hours and also set a different language at the branch level. Of course you also get reporting at the branch level to help you access the progress of your training program."
eFrontPro also offers a "skills" qualification system which represents concrete knowledge acquired from completing a course or from prior education and experience that can be assigned to user profiles. This can help companies in handling mixed educational and experience backgrounds by allowing them to implement "prerequisites" and skill gap tests.
This increased control over grading and employee achievement also means that the success of EET programs implemented with eFrontPro is easy to measure. The app allows you to report on the training achievements of your network members more easily, which should bear fruit in increased sales performance and profits.
As your company network grows, an effective EET program makes sure that everyone involved in pushing your company forward is on the same page.
This post was brought to you in conjunction with LMS solution provider eFront Pro.