Hot data

Training
is an admin-intensive operation. How are departments exploiting IT to ease the
burden? Alison Thomas talks to three organisations about the software solutions
they have opted for

Administering
training and development programmes in a large organisation is a complex
operation. Engaging the right trainer, booking the appropriate room, making
sure it is appropriately equipped, checking the availability of the delegates –
these are just a few of the constraints that have to be taken into account simultaneously.

It
has always been a laborious affair, but modern technology has come up with
solutions which offer huge advantages in terms of increased efficiency, greater
flexibility, better use of resources and massive savings of time.

France
Telecom

ADE
Pro Intranet

“We
have around 1,000 trainers catering for a workforce of 150,000,” says Olivier
Laporte, manager of France Telecom’s Paris training centre.

“Co-ordinating
activities is no easy matter when you have almost 300 rooms, and numerous
audio/visual and computer resources at your disposal and 160 training sessions
take place each week.”

The
company, one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world, has
recently introduced ADE Pro Intranet – newly launched in the UK – to its 16
training centres throughout France.

This
timetabling software package, developed by French start-up Adesoft, is a
three-tier Java architecture client-server application, which allows schedules
to be viewed at any time from any place via the Internet using any web browser.

Once
the user has entered the needs, the system automatically calculates the best
solution, then sends the information to the relevant individuals via the ADEWeb
consultation tool or a personal information management tool such as Lotus
Notes, Microsoft Outlook or Palm Pilot.

Overall
control remains in the hands of a central co-ordinator, who is responsible for
authorising training requests and making the bookings.

Each
trainer however has instant access to scheduling information. “They can see
what is available whenever they want, day or night,” says Laporte.

“They
no longer have to phone in, only to find that the co-ordinator is not free or
that what they wanted has already been booked by someone else.”

As
manager of the project, he too benefits from the system’s state-of-the-art
technology. He can make reservations in as little as 30 seconds and perform his
function from anywhere in the country.

He
also appreciates the feedback it provides on the use of resources. “We have a
lot of sophisticated, expensive equipment,” he says.

“We
can see at a glance which facilities are being under-exploited and which ones
have proved a good investment.

“Information
of this kind is invaluable when we are making strategic decisions for future
training.”

Germain
Bourgeois, marketing director of Adesoft, believes that one of its key assets
is its ability to share information on a grand scale. “Large companies can
deploy it right across the organisation via their intranet, offering access to
everyone who has authorisation” he explains.

“As
a scaleable product it is equally suitable for smaller businesses. Our clients
range from Retraites Unies, the largest pension organisation in France, to the
small distance-learning company Info Convergence.”

Allied
Dunbar

Compel
Training Manager

Allied
Dunbar runs over 1,500 training activities a year, both for its own employees
and for external delegates working in the finance industry.

It
has used Compel Training Manager for Windows since 1995 and project manager Deb
Richings cannot imagine life without it.

“Since
the introduction of more stringent regulations governing the finance industry
we have had to be more rigorous in our tracking and recording of training and
competency levels,” she says.

“As
a result, we refresh over a quarter of a million records every month. That is a
tremendous amount of data, yet it only takes a couple of hours to get the
system up to date.”

She
also appreciates its flexibility and ease of use. When the company inherited
1,500 new staff following an acquisition, incorporating their records was a
simple procedure as data can be readily transferred from other systems.

As
Allied Dunbar has chosen to have the system customised, it is reluctant to
upgrade when new versions come out, as this would necessitate going through the
whole process again.

Compel
has responded to this dilemma by producing modular applications which can be
built into existing systems with relative ease. All Richings has to do is view
a demo of the latest product, select features that are of interest, and Compel
will write modifications to suit her requirements.

Compel’s
marketing manager Jo Holden says one of the main strengths of the system is its
comprehensiveness.

“It
enables you to book venues and trainers, manage resources, generate
correspondence and course documentation and cope with cancellations and other
unforeseeable circumstances.

“It
also has an integral budget and cost-management facility and a powerful
report-generating feature, which enables you to analyse post-course feedback –
a valuable tool when planning future training programmes.

“But
perhaps its most important function is its ability to track each employee’s
training history. This not only helps you to identify future training needs,
but can also be an asset when you need to redeploy staff.”

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