Shortlisted team for the tmp.worldwide Award for Outsourcing: Personnel Today Awards 2000
A key aspect of Unisys strategy has been to create a reputation as a learning organisation and as an employer of choice. However, with 35,000 employees spread across 100 countries, its centralised training organisation was not always connected to the needs of the business. Training was carried out in individual business units, mainly via the classroom, and because of this the company had no overall picture of its overall level of competency or the true costs of the function.
To remedy the situation the company decided to outsource, teaming up with SmartForce to provide competency-based learning programmes through Unisys University. This manages both classroom and computer-based training (CBT), helping employees to obtain professional certifications faster and supporting them with on-line mentoring services.
This has brought about significant changes, according to European team leader Ettie McCormack. Learning is now role specific and aligned to a role competency model. It gives students the flexibility to manage their own learning, while remaining oriented to business needs. The result is a single source for cutting-edge IT training that has increased satisfaction levels among both customers and employees. There have also been substantial bottom-line effects in a 36 per cent reduction of training costs.
Together McCormack and SmartForce helped sell the e-learning vision to the Unisys population throughout Europe, conducting regular meetings to ensure the system is the first port of call for learning. This involved approaching each country individually to understand local cultural issues and gain buy-in. On the cost side, training can now be audited at an organisational level, giving dramatic improvements across the business, while management is provided with up-to-date information for resource planning. Improvements that have resulted from the partnership include automated registration, on-line pre-testing to match courses to skill levels, and a voucher system that streamlines administration.
Students have also benefited from on-line mentoring that has helped double the success rate of CBT courses.
“Outsourcing has centralised what used to be a very fragmented service,” comments McCormack. “We can also see some visible returns on the dollars we have spent, having reduced the number of days that people are out training, as well as the administration that goes with organising that.”
Keeping up to speed in a fast-moving industry is vital, she adds. Unisys is aligned with heavyweight players such as Cisco, Nortel and Microsoft, and a condition of these partnerships is that the company employs individuals qualified in these firms’ technologies.
“Outsourcing helps us stay on top of the developments that happen on a daily basis to make sure that what we are delivering is fresh and relevant,” she says.
Company fact file
Team Unisys University
Team leader Ettie McCormack, campus director
Number in HR team 12
Number of employees responsible for 10,000
Main achievements Centralising activities that were previously fragmented; achieving a cost reduction of 36 per cent by cutting the time spent on training and its administration
Priorities for next 12 months Keeping up with developments in a rapidly changing field to ensure that the training stays up to date