The telecoms giant Vodafone’s senior management development officer Vanessa
Clothier explains the strategy used to centralise its library of learning
Earlier this year, telecoms giant Vodafone initiated a venture with Pete
Bennett’s Learning Resources International and revolutionised its self-learning
strategy by centralising its vast library of learning resources.
Since 11 June, Vodafone’s 10,500 UK employees have been able to access and
order all learning resources and support materials via the Internet, irrespective
of their location
Since its foundation in 1985, Vodafone has been an active proponent of
employee learning and development.
This philosophy, combined with the organisation’s phenomenal growth, meant
that we found ourselves operating independent Learning Resource Centres
locations including Newbury, Birmingham, Abingdon and Croydon.
Each centre was equipped with a wide variety of resources – books, journals,
audio and video cassettes, and CD-Roms – but there was no facility for the
exchange of materials between centres.
And, while we wished to retain our LRCs as quiet rooms for study, we also
wanted to offer staff the widest possible diversity of resources.
We sought to broaden and simplify the learning process for all our
After an extensive inter-departmental consultation, we decided on a method
of training and development delivery that would maximise our resources in a
Nigel Brocklehurst, the organisation’s UK human resource director, adds,
"Vodafone acknowledges that people learn in different ways at different
times and, that a successful strategy is dependent on offering people a choice.
"Our objective was to make all our learning resources available to all
our employees, a process that could only be fulfilled by establishing a
centralised library that was instantly accessible from each individual
This is how we started our association with Pete Bennett and Learning
We were aware that LRI’s range of products included the Development Zone
Learning Hub, a software program developed by the company to enable
organisations to manage and distribute learning materials online.
It also had the added benefit of accurately monitoring the use and location
of each learning programme and was employed by such reputable organisations as
GlaxoSmithKline and Norwich Union.
LRI created a Development Zone Learning Hub that incorporated a remote
ordering and delivery service exclusively for us.
It was agreed that the system should be easy to use, while providing
instantly accessible information on all the resources available.
All 2,000-plus learning resources have been categorised in the generic
Vodafone UK competencies – Drive for Results, Communication, Customer Focus,
Judgement, Planning and Organising, Working with Others, Improving own and
others Performance, Innovation and Change, Leadership, and Commercial Acumen.
Each competency has a variety of programs, that use a mix of media, and,
degrees of complexity to suit a variety of experience and learning preferences.
Since June, users can log on to the registration page of our secure training
On completing the application, they are issued with an ID number and an
individual password, which they subsequently use each time they access the
Once this process is completed, the user is taken to the library page. There
they can select a competence and view the various resources available to them.
When a title has been highlighted, the user has the option of clicking the
view details icon, which opens a separate window giving a synopsis of that
particular resource and details of its competency level.
Should they wish to proceed, a click on the "order" icon reveals
an order form with the user’s details already in place. The order form is then
e-mailed to LRI’s central library and a "thank you" page appears
on-screen confirming the transaction.
The user is informed should the product be unavailable or if there is a
delay in its availability. They are also given the option of ordering an
alternative program that meets their requirements.
"Fulfilling the brief presented LRI with an intriguing challenge.
Vodafone’s standard of excellence demanded a world-class system that was
foolproof and easy to use. I believe we achieved that goal. To date, the system
has been working very efficiently," says Bennett
"We devised and designed the website in accordance with Vodafone’s
brief, including the generic order form and an e-mail and fax submission
"These systems monitor and record each transaction by user name, title,
department and location which allows LRI to provide the client with a full
monthly report of all activity".
It is almost four months since the system was inaugurated, and the multiple
benefits are already evident.
For the first time, we have a detailed overall picture of which resources
are most in use throughout the organisation – this in turn allows us to monitor
and accurately target future learning requirements.
The financial savings made through centralisation have given us a valuable
additional budget for the acquisition of new resources that meet the workforce’s
demands as derived from Learning Resources International monthly reports.
If a fundamental shortage of requested programs is evident, then LRI can
immediately draw it to our attention so that we can acquire further copies for
The convenience factor is acutely measurable – like most organisations with
Learning Resource Centres, we were aware that some staff members were reluctant
to actually visit the LRC room.
The ability to access learning materials directly from their desk has
noticeably increased their curiosity and, hopefully, their desire to learn.
On the first day that the system was up and running, over 350 members of
staff made use of the system, within two months the number of requests for
resources had exceeded 2,500, and demand is still growing.
These figures are a clear indication of the new system’s success – they far
exceed the numbers that used to visit our Learning Resource Centres and are, I
believe, indicative of our ability to provide optimum support for our staff in