Top Tips from Unicorn Client Forum

Integrated, simplicity, ease of use, all in one place – these were the key themes that kept coming to the fore as Unicorn held its third Client Forum in London yesterday.

kingsplaceevents2-300x225In a week where the latest elearnity ‘Learning Technologies Customer Satisfaction Survey’ suggests at least a third of organisations aren’t making a positive impact with their LMSs, our ‘SkillsServe – Maximising Your Time and Investment’ forum did everything to buck that trend as we gave our clients the chance to share how they make the most of their systems.

As Mike Bishop, Unicorn Training Systems Trainer, said when kicking off the event, “We have plan about what we want to do with SkillsServe, by end of day that list will probably be lot longer! But that’s what today’s about.”

Judging on the immediate post-forum feedback from our 80 client delegates, the event certainly proved worthwhile as competitive advantage and secrecy were nowhere to be seen as clients gladly shared their good and bad SkillsServe experiences and how they have best made SkillsServe work for their users to everyone’s benefit.

The event ended with an interesting debate on the appetite for mobile learning, which offered up some surprising views.

Thanks to Kings Place Events for making us so welcome.

Below is an overview of each of the sessions.

1.    Mike Bishop, Unicorn Training Systems Trainer

Mike demonstrated time-saving tips and hints in SkillsServe looking particularly at:
•    Automated new starter induction programmes
•    Reports
•    Events

2.    Fiona Goodwin and Gail Collins (Learning and Development, Towry) – Developing Towry’s ‘Evolve’ T&C System

T&C used to sit under compliance jurisdiction – everything was done on paper forms and used to have to go out into branches to do audits. Version-control was very difficult.

In 2010 T&C was moved into L&D section to get away from the ‘tick box’ nature of compliance towards a more personal, professional and business development approach.

Wanted to be able to do record T&C centrally and get relevant MI.

Unicorn Director, IT, Stuart Jones introduces Gail and Fiona

Unicorn Director, IT, Stuart Jones introduces Gail and Fiona

When were sourcing an LMS, SkillsServe didn’t have a reporting tool to give them what they wanted but Unicorn developed a tool to do it. Development of ‘Evolve’ system enabled Towry to manage all regulated and non-regulated training activities through one system.

T&C is called Professional Standards Framework (PSF) at Towry. All an individual’s L&D and PSF activities are displayed on their Evolve dashboard.

Creating forms – when first got system was complicated to create forms and make changes. Had to use HTML and was very labour intensive. Evolve has now got an in-built form builder for performance management that’s very easy to use.

Also makes a massive difference to version control as get full audit trail of who changed/updated a form and when – means someone knows they are always using the most up-to-date forms to gather MI.

Other highlights with forms:
•    Ability to carry information from one form to next – enables detailed actions from one meeting to get brought forward to the next. Also tool to ensure action points are followed through, and nothing gets dropped, by marking ‘Achieved’, ‘Not achieved’ and ‘In progress’
•    Can link events together – for example off the back of a supervisor meeting with an advisor the supervisor can add maybe a coaching session to the advisor’s action plan

Report tool and download function aid comprehensive MI tracking and reporting.

For supervisors there is a ‘My advisors’ portal, where the supervisor can, with one click, get an immediate overview of outstanding T&C actions and event of their advisors. Also simple functionality within that to enable supervisors to aid completion of overdue activities.

Evolve can talk to many different systems within Towry – means managers don’t have to log in and out of different systems to complete tasks. Everything is in one place, which from a management point of view is where want to go.

3.    Lynne Francis (Director, Professional and Skills Development, Willis) – Performance Reviews/appraisals in the Willis Academy

Before – had no real alynnefrancis_willis2bility to report on what was going into appraisal documents, what objectives were being set for people or reporting on ratings. If people weren’t doing appraisals every year, management were getting data on old years’ reviews etc.

Wanted to get away from very structured appraisal form, where boxes had to be ticked, to something that was flexible, and really did everything for everybody to assess multiple competencies.

Required new approach to performance management, where appraisals really captured development needs, objectives, values and performance ratings. Wanted forms to record conversations rather than structuring conversations.

Requirements:
•    Same process for all Willis Associates globally (17,000)
•    Process that was Associate driven
•    Accessed by SkillsServe
•    Fully reportable

What Willis did:
•    Designed a new form – simplified approach to capture and review conversations and ratings
•    Worked with Unicorn to be able to deliver the form via SkillsServe
•    Changed form so Associates drive the process by creating objectives, recording evidence and starting the process themselves
•    New rating scale – measured against what they’ve achieved against objectives and Willis values

WILLAchieve – Willis’ new approach to performance management – was introduced.

How do Willis appraisals work now?
•    Annual for each calendar year – to set objectives and development needs
•    Forms used by Associates all year round – working document – to add thoughts, evidence (attachments, emails etc) as opposed to scrabbling round ahead of appraisal time trying to find bits. This can’t be seen by manager at this time.
•    Manager can add business needs / MI objectives driven by the ‘numbers’ of what an Associate needs to achieve each  year
•    Fully reportable means of capturing performance discussions and ratings

Willis now has a form, system and process, which is the same for 17,000 Associates globally.

4.    Helen Watts (Director, Unicorn Training) – CIPS Academy case study

MCIPS is the premier qualification in the procurement and supply management industry.

The huge catalogue of eLearning content was developed 5/6 years ago in large tranche – moved from StudyServe to SkillsServe in March 2012.

Brief for 2013 eLearning Project:
•    Complete syllabus rewrite – 100% rebuild
•    Demand for more practical case studies – came from user survey
•    Creation of single-entry point for all qualification-related activity
•    Demand for mobile content – really important as CIPS has presence in Africa where computers can be scarce but everyone has a smart phone
•    Requirements for flexible transition arrangements

What we delivered:
•    Rebuilding everything in mobile compatible format
•    17 units. 68 modules, 136 eLearning solutions, 136 case studies – across Levels 2-6
•    Four different styles of case study – no audio as have to have something that works on every type of device in CIPS sphere, including smart phones in Africa.
•    Revision assessments derived from previous modules
•    Newly designed routemaps comprising all qualification-related activity

Everything that was previously a document has been converted into an eBriefing through in-built SkillsServe tool – means activity can be tracked and is more engaging than flat text doc.

Our latest mobile-friendly e-learning for CIPS – the mobile learning module produces exactly the same experience as if we’re doing it on the desktop. Click on the image for a demo.

CIPS mobile learning demo

CIPS mobile learning demo

5.    Sammy Awad – Unicorn Help Desk Manager

Over the past year have bolstered help desk team as seen how important support is to clients – help desk role has evolved from previously more technical advice to more rounded guidance on getting the most out of system.sammyawad

Response times to queries have improved hugely – always looking at more ways to open up channels of communication with clients.

Following customer feedback Unicorn are launching online Customer Help Desk Forum – enables clients to ask questions and answer questions for each other. Also throws up possible FAQ articles when a question is posted.

The forum is also searchable and if a client still needs help, their query gets flagged automatically with help desk. Sammy urges clients to attach screenshots to query as really helps get to root of queries quickly.

Also reveals instant chat is being investigated as another communication tool for help desk.

6.    Debbie Fairman (Customer Care Director, Learning Nexus) – Return on Learning.

Valuable, sustainable and cost-effective learning is most important things – how do businesses evaluate return on learning?

What makes a comprehensive learning environment?
•    Culture – got to be right to enable learning to be driven but what creates and supports a learning culture?
o    Leading by example – top down approach
o    Offering time for study and learning
o    Recognition of the value of learning – business benefits not just individual
o    Sometimes regulation
•    Objectives and strategy – organisational and departmental
•    Support – for everyone regardless of level
•    Learning tools / interventions available
•    Opportunities to go and learn – one thing having tools, another having time
•    Personal drive
•    Evaluation – did I learn something new and how did I take it back into workplace?

Incredible shoes Debbie!

Incredible shoes Debbie!

Debbie opened up the conversation to the floor – point raised on difference between a training culture and learning culture?

How inclined someone is to share knowledge and learning not simply tick a box to say they’ve done something without in impacting of their workplace behaviours.

The ‘do they take it back to the workplace’ is the hardest part of evaluation process.

Is there too much focus on delivery of next activity/project to detriment of proper, effective evaluation of last task? Have to be realistic of how much effort/investment can be put into evaluation.

Ways organisations evaluate success of learning/culture:
•    ROI (financial)
•    Skilled workforce
•    Attrition levels
•    Internal fast track programmes
•    Motivation and commitment of staff
•    Reduced risk of litigation and bad publicity

Ways individuals evaluate success of learning/culture:
•    Motivation
•    Self-confidence
•    Job satisfaction
•    Increased earning potential
•    Increased promotional prospects
•    More marketable as individual
•    Skills to transfer to non-work environment

7.    Open Mobile Learning debate

Deserves it own blog posting – Mobile learning – where’s it really at? The debate!

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