Yesterday, while browsing the Internet to learn more about the experiences of companies that have benefited from successful Extended Enterprise Learning (EEL) initiatives, I learnt that these organizations faced 3 issues in effectively transferring knowledge to their business partners. Let me share more about these problems and how they were resolved. The 3 challenges were:
Organizational and bureaucratic issues
Establishing proper procedures to transfer the company’s ideas and knowledge to the business partners and customers goes a long way in ensuring smooth EEL. This is particularly important in the case of large multinational firms that have many training units spanning across several countries. Some of these galactic organizations encountered serious problems in coordinating the training efforts with external stakeholders. According to the research firm IDC, the successful implementation of EEL is possible only when there is synergy in the efforts of the company and its business associates. The seamless exchange of information benefits the components of the extended enterprise because the symbiotic relationship between them is strengthened.
IDC has observed that many successful implementations begin at the line-of-business (LOB) level. Learning at the field level ensures that business needs remain the focus of the EEL rather than the training process. The research firm has further stated that the LOB model yields better results when the training units are decentralized as the likelihood of conflicts among the stakeholders is low.
Concerns about loss of intellectual capital
Some companies hesitate to share information about their business processes. They are protective about these because they consider these processes to be irreplaceable intellectual capital. An employee of an organization who is trained on these processes and who later switches to a competitor could be a very potential business risk. It is fears like these that inhibit sharing of processes that an organization considers confidential.
Many companies are therefore reluctant to provide access of their LMS to business partners. An effective solution to this problem is the use of a second LMS, which could be exclusively used for EEL. This eliminates the possibility of proprietary information leaving the four walls of the organization. Hosting courses on a second LMS is very cost effective, thanks to the various open-source LMS (such as Moodle) available in the market.
Effective measurement of impact
Companies wish and need to know how EEL has affected their performance. Lack of meaningful metrics acts as a disincentive to effective training of the extended enterprise. LMS helps to keep track of the learning process and assess the performance of the trainees.
But often, it is the ‘indirect’ outcomes of the learning process that matter the most to companies. For instance, an EEL program designed to educate the distributors about a new product can be tracked effectively through an LMS and the personnel’s knowledge of the product can be measured. But these have no meaning if the sales of the product has not increased. Organizations, therefore, should evolve proper mechanisms to measure the impact of learning.
The removal of these three hurdles helps organizations to implement EEL better. Have you encountered any other problems that have hampered the effective transmission of information in your extended enterprise? Do share your experiences with us in the comments box below.