You know the benefits of training your employees, but what value do you place on training stakeholders, suppliers, and even your customers? If you don’t focus on extended enterprise learning, now is the time to do so. This is where company training and development is heading and you want to stay on the forefront of industry advancements.
So what exactly is extended enterprise learning? This type of learning is the development of anyone who is not an internal employee. As we mentioned above, these groups of people can be dealers, channel distribution partners, suppliers, resellers, franchisees, and customers. And training these people offers several positive benefits.
Extended enterprise learning benefits
While you may offer customer support for your products or services, today’s consumer wants to buy and use right away. By offering training to your customers, they feel empowered and knowledgeable right away. They walk away feeling satisfied doing business with your company, more willing to be a repeat buyer, and you have a better chance of these customers referring others. Another example is with your distributors. The more training you provide them, the faster they will be able to sell your product or service and the more revenue you make.
Communication is key in any organization. However, the more people you have involved in the buying process, the more lost in translation your messaging can get. Extended enterprise training can fill these knowledge gaps, clear up customer confusion, and handle misinformation from partners. It clearly defines your goals, puts everyone on the same page in terms of training, and ensures streamlined communication.
A lot of companies flounder because they fall back on the same processes over time. In order to stay ahead of the competition, you need to be flexible and willing to change directions quickly when something is not working. Extended enterprise training can keep your company agile. Plus, it helps onboard new partners quicker and more effectively reducing the learning curve.
Whether you are talking about lawsuits or bad customer reviews, reducing risk is always important. Extended enterprise learning can help lower this risk. When all your vendors, suppliers, and customers are on the same page, you will sell more and reduce the likelihood of negative issues.
Improve supply chain and processes
When you implement extended enterprise learning, you soon learn where processes are lagging or where certain people may need additional training. Just like training your employees, training external partners is beneficial in uncovering areas of improvement. With increased training, your processes will get stronger and your supply chain more efficient.
How does extended enterprise learning differ from in-house learning?
Before you implement extended enterprise learning, it’s important to understand how it is different from training your employees. Although you can use and should use your same learning management system, the training process is different. Here are some key points to understand.
Type of learning
When employees are given training, they are usually required to take it. However, when you are dealing with external partners, this is on a voluntary basis. As a result, less marketing needs to go into employee training since development is a “must” to stay an employee. When an external partner takes training, they need to be persuaded to enter a learning management system and have to “want” the training so more marketing and different design elements need to be considered to gain this audience’s attention.
During the onboarding process, employees are assigned a learning track. This is usually fixed based on experience level, area of expertise, and goals set by the department manager. However, this is vastly different when building an extended enterprise system. For external stakeholders, they are searching for an answer to a question or want to learn more about a specific product/service. So they use search and other navigation functions to get to a specific piece of training. As a result, it’s a good idea to focus on searchable catalogs, filters, tags, and more so that these audiences can locate information quickly.
Cost of development
As part of an employee package, training and development is usually built into this. Employees know what training they will receive over the lifespan of their employment and this perk comes free of charge just by being an employee. But when you talk about extended enterprise learning, this is a chance to charge your external audiences for your training and development programs. By selling your premium content, you’ll need a learning management system partner who can set up a system with functions like building subscriptions, accounting integrations, and more.
Employees log into a learning management system and once training is completed, their manager receives a notification. Or a manager may assign new training to their team and employees get notifications to take this training.
When you are dealing with external stakeholders, you’ll need to incorporate some sort of integration for these communications. For example, something like MailChimp or Drip. That way, you can keep track of similar communications as you do with your employees. Feedback like what content is most visited, what type of audience is using which content, and how many opened training sessions are actually completed. This data can help your marketing team better communicate with these audiences.
To award employees for completing training, some sort of reward is usually given. You may provide a certificate or something tangible like extra time off for further training completed. However, when rewarding external partners, this will need to be different. You can provide digital badges for example that can be put on websites, used on social media or added to electronic signatures. Plus, this gives you free advertising in return.
For employee training, human resources software syncs with a learning management system to upload details on employees. However when you deploy extended enterprise learning, you’ll need to consider other integrations to gain details on your external partners. Look for a learning management system that can integrate with a program like Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics. That way you can capture demographics that will help you tailor training externally.
Key features for extended enterprise learning
Now that you know some of the advantages and how extended enterprise learning differs from employee learning, it’s time to look for an enterprise learning platform. Even though you currently have a learning management system, it or your provider may not be equipped to handle external partner learning effectively. So it’s important to look for these key features in an LMS provider.
1. Online certification
Since extended enterprise learning as we discussed is not a required function of doing business with your company, you need to entice your external audiences to take your training. One way to do this is with online certifications. By offering skill or performances certifications that are easily downloaded, this provides an incentive to take your training.
2. Support resources
Another key feature your LMS should have is great support resources. With more and more competition available to your external audiences, you want to make it easy to keep their loyalty. By providing support resources such as training guides on how to use your products, mobile-friendly product q and a, and forums for free form questions, you’ll keep your partners happy.
3. Built-in analytics
Once you implement training for external audiences, you’ll want to capture this valuable data. Any feedback whether positive or negative can help tailor your current strategy to better meet your partners’ needs. So having strong built-in analytics in your extended enterprise learning platform is important.
4. Searchability and navigation
As we mentioned before, your external partners are not taking a set training regimen. As a result, your extended enterprise learning platform must be easy to navigate. For example, an existing customer may be looking for training on a specific product they already own. Whereas a new customer may want information on your various product offerings so they can select the one that works best for them. So your enterprise learning system needs to be easy to navigate and searchable with a couple clicks. That way you are satisfying every life cycle of your customers and other external partners.
People are wary these days of typing in any personal information online. It seems like every day you hear of a new data breach. So you need to make sure your extended enterprise learning platform is secure and your external audiences know what you are doing to protect their sensitive information. Also, with the rampant robocalls and the spam emails, people receive daily, while you want to communicate effectively with your audiences, make sure you are upfront about what outreach and marketing they will receive by signing up for your training. That way your partners will trust the training sign up process.
Top 8 extended enterprise learning platforms
If you know you need a learning management system that can accommodate extended enterprise learning or you know you’ll need to switch LMS providers, it’s hard to know which platform is best. Here are the top eight providers to consider.
Continu offers a versatile cloud-based interface and is one of the only LMS companies offering a blended learning tool for both online and classroom training. Their platform is easy to use, doesn’t over complicate the implementation process, and keeps up with changing technology. Besides using Continu as an LMS, the platform is also a knowledge base or Intranet system which helps cut company costs and save time. Learning Tracks is how administrators create courses, facilitate onboarding flows, quizzes, and more. Continu is also an authoring tool which means companies can create training materials directly onto this platform without the aid of third parties.
Adobe Captivate Prime offers customizable learning experiences whether on mobile or desktop. The set-up offers flexibility and the system is both scalable and measurable with reports. They also guarantee top-notch security. Some of the other features include fluidic player, compliance management, and collaborations.
3. Docebo LMS
Docebo’s system is intuitive and very user-friendly with a helpful customer service function to get up and running quickly. They offer features for tracking training taken and offer certifications and other rewards for completed courses. Docebo also offers company branding that can translate from mobile to desktop to tablet.
iSpring Learn starts with a training orientation an aim of getting your audiences on board quickly. This LMS is compatible with any device and can even be used when offline. Some of the other key features include detailed statistics and tracking training progress by individuals.
Northpass offers customer support, several integrations, and resources throughout training. This LMS is cloud-based and offers features for creating and distributing online training content to partners, customers, and employees. It also offers company branding and can be accessed anytime on all devices.
TalentLMS lets you create and initiate customized online training courses through a single portal. This system can also accommodate thousands of remote users. Some of the other key features are centralized management, flexible groups/branches, auto-generated infographics, option for self-paced learning and microlearning. Tracking is simplified by using reports.
The Academy LMS offers a social learning platform that promises to engage your partners and keep them entertained while learning. This LMS can be used by multiple channels, brands, and audiences. Some of the key features include customization, setting different access levels, and administration rights to group audiences in different ways.
360 Learning LMS offers fully customizable interfaces and can scale to include a global reach of partners. It’s easy to integrate already created content to this system and catalog learning by different searchable terms. 360 Learning LMS also offers training guides to help get users up and running quickly.
Maximize your learning management system
If you’ve only been focused on employee learning and development, you’re only meeting the needs of half your audiences. In order to get the most out of your learning management system, incorporate extended enterprise learning. That way each partner whether internal or external get their product questions answered and feels fully invested in your company. And the more your partners’ needs are met, the more they will stay loyal to your brand and the more successful you will become.