Most Production or Service companies who provide goods or services to the Auto, Aerospace, Medical, Food, Defense, or Software are required to implement Quality Systems compliant to ISO 9001:2015. Even if you are not required to comply with the requirements of ISO 9001, it is worthwhile as a company to develop a robust training and development process. Clause 7.2 Competence of the ISO Standard states that organizations shall:
- a) Determine the competence of employees doing work that affects the performance and effectiveness of the quality management system (QMS),
- b) Ensure individuals are competent based on education, training, or experience,
- c) Take actions to acquire the necessary competence and evaluate the effectiveness of these actions, and
- d) Retain documented evidence demonstrating competence.
These for many companies represent the minimum standards. However, for many companies, the struggle to hire, train, and develop employees is an ever-difficult chore and often falls on individual departments to implement, administer, and maintain training needs. There are a lot of companies that are using spreadsheets and other forms of training matrices to keep track of scheduled and completed training. The actual classes or types of training could consist of a meeting, a sign-off on a procedure or work instruction in the document control software, an online class, instructor-led onsite/offsite event, or some hybrid of these arrangements. Often these situations exist because there is a lack of leadership or assignment of Process Owner to establish the protocol and coordinates the training needs consistently across multiple sites/departments.
If your training process is fragmented and leadership is lacking by providing a consistent approach between sites or departments then consideration should be given to implementing a Learning Management System. A Learning Management System (LMS) is a is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, automation, and delivery of educational courses, training programs, or learning and development programs. It is not enough to agree that the current system is broke, fragmented, ineffective, and time-consuming to pursue an LMS solution. The organizations must acknowledge that they do not have the right culture for training and development and must be willing to look at the Training and Development process in a new light.
The Road to Change
- Create a Steering Committee - review the current state and identify the objectives for improvement. This will require an introspective look by each site, department, or work area to determine what areas of training and development need improvement. In my previous article and I indicated that the most effective training processes are those that show alignment to the metrics, growth, and overall strategy of the organization. This would be the first place to start to begin identifying training needs. There will also be unique individual needs to develop and prepare some employees for advancement or moves into new positions.
- Determine the Learning and Development Objectives - Who are you hoping to teach and what are their learning objectives? What skill sets are you hoping to improve? What kind of result are you hoping to implement? Will you be training the whole team simultaneously? A clear idea of your learning goals will make it easier to find an LMS or portal that can contribute most effectively to your needs. After figuring out your learning objectives and course logistics, the next step is to consider your audience. A good understanding of who will be receiving your training, how many users you will have, and what kind of content will be most effective is the best way to make sure the content delivery matches the learners’ needs.
- Identify the List of Features - a fully-functioning LMS provides for scheduling, content authoring, content management, Event/Webinar Integration/Tracking, Mobile Access, Establishing Learning Tracks, Available Content Libraries or ability to Import Courses in a SCORM format, Self-Enrollment, Establishing Sites/Groups/Departments, dashboards, escalation features, Manager notifications, Pre and Post Test Options, Hybrid or Blended Learning options, video capabilities, integration with the payroll system for importing employees, tech support from the LMS provider, gamification, discussion boards/forums, ratings for courses, etc. These are just some of the many features that many of the LMS systems offer. The User interface and overall attractiveness of the web page are also important to entice individuals to use the system.
- Determine Type of Content by Department, Process, or General Headings – there should be an initial attempt to identify the categories of training to then be able to perform a deep dive into the actual class selection. One could set up training under the Sales Department and then identify categories such as Leadership, Sales Techniques, Diversity, Quality, etc. For Manufacturing there might be additional categories of training that include Safety, Lean, Statistics, Maintenance, etc. It is hard to get Managers to think of specific classes without first trying to generalize the needs on a higher level.
Consider what type of content you’re hoping to exhibit (audio, video, interactive activities, PDF documents, PowerPoint presentations), and how the learners will be accessing it.
These are the first four steps to prepare for your Journey. The remaining steps: Determining the Budget, Assignment of Responsibilities, IT Support, Choice, Evaluation, and Ongoing Assessment are examined in detail in the next article. Stay tuned as we examine a better way to learn, record, and develop our greatest asset – our employees.