Magazine Article | May 1, 2002

E-Learning At Your Desk

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

A successful business change often entails implementing new CRM (customer relationship management) solutions that require new sets of skills.

Integrated Solutions, May 2002

Technologies such as CRM (customer relationship management) and ERP (enterprise resource planning) give enterprises a myriad of customer information. Enterprises use this information to forecast orders, find out more about customers' needs, and to realign their business practices with customers' needs on the fly. However, a CRM solution's effectiveness is limited by its user's understanding of how to use it and execute on the information it provides. Colorado-based StorageTek (Louisville, CO) is no different than many other businesses in its need to respond quickly to changes within its market. StorageTek , a $2 billion worldwide company based in Louisville, CO, delivers a broad range of storage solutions for digitized data. The company serves more than 22,000 customers in 47 countries.

New Business Strategy Requires New Software
In 1999, StorageTek responded to a change in the way enterprises purchased storage solutions. Because of the host of enterprise storage solutions that had become available, most companies needed education and advice before they could even begin to know if they needed a Fibre Channel SAN solution, an automated tape library, or some other type of storage solution.

StorageTek decided to tackle this challenge and get to know its customers' and prospects' needs better by implementing a CRM solution. After checking out several vendors, it chose Siebel 99. "We wanted to change the way we managed customer data," recalls Rhonda Duesterberg, training and development manager at StorageTek. "And we knew that this shift in our business philosophy could not be accomplished without proper training."

StorageTek hired consultants from Knowledge Impact (Wayland, MA), a provider of end user e-learning and performance support solutions for enterprise applications, to help get its workforce up to speed. Knowledge Impact assembled a team of training and course design experts to help StorageTek reach its goal of training 700-plus end users who were spread across 10 cities throughout the United States. Due to budget and time restraints, Knowledge Impact's instructor-led training program had to be trimmed down from a 12-week training period to 8 weeks. StorageTek appropriately named the training program Accelerate Project.

To aid in the development of the Accelerate Project training program, Knowledge Impact's training team formed user acceptance training classes, which were held for selected members of the sales team. After evaluating the sales team's feedback, future training classes were adjusted accordingly. "The trainers from Knowledge Impact were able to complete the training within an eight-week period," says Duesterberg. "Each employee who attended the training received a minimum of two days of instruction." To help extend the benefit of the training further, Knowledge Impact developed a reference manual for each user and quick-reference cards to help users recall training shortcuts once they were working on their own. For additional help, StorageTek purchased help desk support from Siebel.

CRM Empowers Field Sales Force
With its new system in place and workers properly trained to take advantage of all its functions, StorageTek has been able to capitalize on its CRM initiative. "Our field workers have access to our customer database through laptop computers," says Susan Schleusner, project manager of Siebel training for StorageTek. "The software helps us keep track of important customer information such as account information, purchase history, opportunities for storage solution implementations that a customer will need down the road, and short- and long-term goals that our salespeople set for the customer." The system is especially helpful for new employees taking on an existing account. Having access to the history of contacts made with the customer, a hierarchy of contact names and telephone numbers at the customer's site, and a good idea of the revenue potential of the company, as well as its storage needs, is a valuable benefit.

E-Learning Reduces Training Costs
Another initiative that StorageTek has in the works is an e-learning solution. Knowledge Impact's software tool, called EPSS (electronic performance system support), would allow workers who have trouble navigating through the CRM system to use built-in tutorials with screen shots. "The EPSS simulates a specific screen shot and allows the user to input data and see the results without affecting the actual database," says Duesterberg. "Additionally, the tools have querying abilities so that users can ask specific questions within specific screen shots to help them understand the CRM system better." By using the EPSS, StorageTek will be able to reduce training costs associated with flying trainers and trainees to classroom training sites and also to reduce the costs of its help desk service. And most importantly, the e-learning will help employees to learn on the fly.