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
- Increased profit
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.
- Better communication
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.
- Fluid environment
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.
- Reduce risk
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.
- Training given
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.
- Notifications provided
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.
- Incentive system
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.
- Integrations needed
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.