Courage to the LMS!
-A practical example-
Let's be honest, when you hear Learning Management Systems (LMS), you will think: "Much too expensive", "not affordable for us anyway", or: "We don't have enough personnel for it". Sound familiar? Don't worry, you're in good company. Many customers, above all small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) share exactly the very same doubts.
The example of SundG Automobil AG shows why the purchase is still worthwhile. The world's oldest Mercedes Benz dealer has been using imc's LMS for its 1,300 employees since 2016.
In an interview, Christian Mai from S&G, reports on his experiences with the implementation, gives practical tips and explains why an LMS can even increase the appreciation of employees within the company.
Mainly responsible for Learning Management System at S&G
Hello Mr. Mai, thank you for your time. First question: What does good e-learning mean to you?
An opportunity to give employees knowledge they enjoy and what they not only see as a duty, but what makes them feel entertained and what they like to do. Good e-learning should also offer a change from the normal working day.
When it comes to the introduction of LMS, many companies, especially medium-sized ones, are still sceptical. Why did S&G decide to do this?
On the one hand, we wanted to show that we are moving with the times and are open to new technologies. On the other hand, there were of course also very practical reasons. We have around 1,300 employees at 19 locations and wanted to provide fast, direct information across locations without email traffic.
Sometimes it was also the case that employees travelled from location to location to hold training courses, which was neither up-to-date nor efficient. In addition, some employees were informed directly by their superiors about individual training courses, which led to a certain "dispersion loss". It was also never exactly known whether messages were received and read.
Basically, we simply wanted to bundle the whole topic of training and at the same time meet our obligations to provide evidence in respect of training on topics such as money laundering, compliance and data protection. But we also had other concrete problems that we wanted to solve.
...Which ones were there?
Very practical things, for example we have employees who work in the workshop (garage) and don't have their own PC. But they also have to access the LMS, which we call "Learning World", and above all cope with it.
In addition, before "Learning World" was introduced, employees were unable to register for classroom courses on their own. This was a rather complicated process, but it could be replaced by the LMS.
What were the special challenges during the introduction of the LMS?
What we really underestimated, on the one hand, was how time-consuming the administration of "Learning World" would be. On the other hand, it was difficult to find out which employees would actually be able to design visually appealing training courses.
With the Content Studio, which is included in the LMS, it is relatively easy to create training courses yourself, but they still must be created by someone with the appropriate expertise. Previously it was simply that PDFs were created for training courses and sent to the participants, but with the introduction of "Learning World" and its possibilities, the requirements have naturally grown, also of a graphical nature.
What kind of courses do you produce with the Content Studio?
At the moment we mainly use classical presentations with speech synthesis. We once tried to record our own voices to make the whole thing more personal, but that was too time-consuming.
Then we started to use Content Studios artificial voice tool again, and now we're getting away from them. We found out that it simply isn't suitable for many of our employees to have a training with sound, because they can't play it anyway. If, for example, a salesman is sitting in the salesroom, the loud playback disturbs the colleagues. But sitting with headphones does not make a good impression on customers. It's also difficult for fitters who travel a lot.
Since automotive mechatronics technicians, service consultants and sales staff are our three largest professional groups, we tend to get away from speech synthesis in these groups.
How does the creation of training content work?
Originally, we had appointed a total of 20 authors from various fields. However, we have now reduced this number to five to six people, because we have noticed that it makes more sense to have fewer people who have more practice in creating the training. We now have the authors and those responsible for the content.
The authors coordinate the trainings with the responsible persons, check them and determine for which employee group the training should be obligatory. Then all the training sessions come to me, I check the framework conditions, such as compliance with the corporate identity, test on various end devices and then transfer the whole thing into Learning World.
How did you train the authors?
The authors first received a two-day workshop from imc. That was a very good basic framework, but afterwards it was still a lot of learning by doing. We strongly supported each other and gathered a lot of feedback from the staff. That was very important for us, because we first had to learn what each individual employee group needed individually.
If, for example, it was self-explanatory for me to have to click on an arrow at the bottom right to go any further, it might not have been clear to an older employee from the assembly department. So, we had to get to know our target group and their needs and adapt the training specifically.
Which function of the LMS do you use most?
For us, automated assignment is something that saves a lot of time and administration. When each user is created, they aresorted into a specific group according to their activity. Depending on which user group, i.e. which department they are in, they are automatically registered for certain courses. The system is linked to our SAP and if, for example, a new trainee joins, he is automatically assigned to the "Trainee" group and the corresponding courses are automatically booked for him.
Some courses are also mandatory for all employees, such as fire protection, data security or first aid training. There are also specialist training courses, some of which build on each other. Only if the new trainee has passed course A, in order to stick to the example, can he start course B, and so on.
The supervisor can also see when he has completed the courses and can determine when each course must be completed. The trainee can, however, decide flexibly when he wants to take the course and whether he prefers to take it in one go or on several days.
How is the acceptance of Learning World with your employees?
Very high almost throughout. We first had an official information event where Learning World was presented. In addition, our Executive Board, which was really behind the project from the very beginning, was personally very committed to it and, for example, talked about it again and again at works meetings. He also said to me once in fun: "If there are complaints, just refer the people directly to me".
With such a project a strong backing helps immensely and, in my opinion, this is also an advantage of SMEs. We can react more flexibly and are closer to our employees than is the case with large corporations.
But what was also extremely important for the acceptance of Learning World was to make it clear that we don't want to impose any additional work on the employees, on the contrary we want to save them work and paperwork. Although there are still a few sceptics who don't like these "new-fangled things", on the whole we received very positive feedback. Especially when the employees find out that it is the company's own colleagues who create the trainings, they find it great and are proud of our "S&G products".
Could the system in general meet your expectations?
Mostly yes. What we wanted above all was a reduction in paperwork and bureaucracy. The paperwork has really improved a lot, but we still have to struggle with the bureaucracy and the right settings.
But what is definitely already there is a significant time saving, since we were able to convert many classroom training sessions into online courses. In addition, the automated assignment of training courses and instructions saves us a lot of mail and time.
Would you say afterwards that you underestimated the introduction of the system?
As a company, probably yes, as is often the case with large projects. Things are always added or interfered with that you haven't taken into account. In the beginning we didn't really know what possibilities there were and what we could do with the LMS.
As a person, however, I think I assessed it reasonably realistically, but only joined the project when the decision had already been made. I am an automotive salesman and worked in the human resources department of S&G. I also studied business administration and business psychology. My boss, however, wanted there to be a person with the main responsibility who already knew the company, so he brought me into the project team in 2017.
Therefore, because I am not a computer scientist, I had great respect for the topic and the scope. In the meantime, I've worked my way into it quite well and most of it runs relatively smoothly. Of course, there are always minor problems that you can't see coming before.
What would you like to use the system for in the future?
There are some topics that we still want to integrate. One example would be induction concepts for employees according to activity groups, which are currently still controlled manually by their superiors. In some cases, signatures have to be obtained from the instructing employees. That would be an idea to represent this process digitally.
But quality management topics that are currently still on the intranet could also be linked to further reduce administrative effort.
If you had a wish for a good LMS fairy godmother, what would that be?
I am now used to it, but when I started working with the LMS, I, as someone with no IT background, found it was not really intuitive at first. There are so many masks and possibilities that I felt a bit exhausted. For each small topic you have to open new buttons and enter new terms.
In the meantime I have developed my routine and found my way around, but in the beginning I would have liked the system to have been more self-explanatory.
Finally, do you have any concrete tips on what a company should bear in mind when introducing an LMS?
Difficult question, there is a lot! It starts with the question of whether you control the whole system centrally, as we do, with regard to organisation and administration. Then you have to think carefully about how the authors should work and who should become an author at all.
Here you have to weigh very carefully and the basic question you have to ask yourself is: Do I want employees to create courses that are already familiar with the processes and structures of the company, but first have to be didactically integrated, or do I hire someone who has the technical, didactic background, internal structures for it does not know.
Also very important and to be clarified at the beginning is the question of the main responsible person and contact person. This is not only essential for system implementation, but also plays an important role for employees and acceptance. Employees need to know who to turn to when they have questions. In my opinion, it makes little sense to appoint different contact persons, for example, one who is responsible for the design, the other for the content of the training courses, and so on. It is better to have a person in charge who is centrally in charge.
But you have to be aware that the introduction of an LMS, like all major projects, is always associated with certain difficulties and never goes smoothly.
Thank you very much for the exciting discussion, the good tips and continued success with the optimisation!
SundG Automobil AG is the oldest Mercedes Benz dealer worldwide. Since 2016, the company has been using imc Learning Suite for its 1300 employees.
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She has prepared a new way to train customers for using imc's Learning Management System.
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The success of introducing a learning management system hinges on those responsible for the launch - and not underestimating them. We have compiled some expert tips and a checklist to help you in convincing your stakeholders.
More information about the LMS
If you would like to find our more about the Learning Management System of imc, please find all information here.
I have been working in the Marketing & Communication Team at imc since March 2019.
Communication, creative content and social media are my passion. "KISS - Keep it short and simple" is my credo.
To explain complex content in an understandable way and thus make the topic of e-Learning accessible to everyone is an exciting challenge every day.
Privately I love to read, play poker and travel a lot.
I am always happy to receive feedback or suggestions.