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Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

I’ve had two client discussions this week that are leading me to write this blog post as a public service to all my professional training colleagues.

lockPlease beware of getting locked into proprietary software platforms!

I have a long history with technology-fueled training, and I understand the appropriate place for software development. Many new systems had to be developed from scratch over the past 20 years, and I enjoyed being a part of that evolution when working with Pedagogue Solutions back in the day.

However – the software world has matured now, and when it comes to training applications and delivery platforms, if you have a fairly complex need, such as learning management, content management, on-line video training, event management, HQ-to-field information exchange – there are very likely some commercially-built solutions that you can license.

In the vast majority of cases, you do NOT want to have a custom shop (or internal IT people) re-invent the wheel for you.

One of my clients had some modules developed a couple years back into some kind of proprietary eReader software. Now, when it comes time to update it, what happens? They’re either stuck with the original supplier (with a very high price tag), or they essentially have to extract the content and have the modules re-developed using a commercially-available authoring tool so that it can be maintained and updated in the future by anyone they choose.

Another client told me about a pretty complex platform that cost an arm and a leg to develop from the ground up. After consuming all kinds of time and effort, it never really got off the ground in its intended form – while there were other commercially-available platforms that could have been quickly deployed, and would have been supported in an ongoing way.

Some thoughts, based on many years of experience in the industry:

  1. Developing new, complex platforms and applications is extraordinarily difficult and time-consuming. It should be left to companies that specialize in platform design and support. License what already exists!
  2. Training development companies that happen to also do some digital stuff are absolutely NOT the companies you want to take on the creation of an ambitious complex-system platform. They won’t have the resources to do it right, or to support it. I am especially thinking about overly-ambitious marketing/advertising agencies, who like to say that they can do anything.
  3. Every sophisticated software platform takes 2-3 times as long, and costs 2-3 times as much, as you and your development partner initially think. Trust me on this.
  4. Supporting a sophisticated software system custom-created for one client is enormously expensive. On the other hand, when a commercial software shop – say, a Learning Management System vendor – is spreading ongoing development and support costs across a larger number of clients, then it becomes a viable business model.
  5. It’s not just about the immediate need. You must think about sustainability.

One other thing: whatever software platform you choose to use for whatever purpose, make sure that it is written into the contract that you always have full access to all of your content and data, in a usable and industry-standard format, including the ability to completely remove your “stuff” and migrate it to another system.

I don’t want to tell you how many times I’ve seen this lesson learned the hard way. And I’d like for you to avoid costly mistakes. So here is my offer, for any of my life sciences colleagues who are considering training software applications and platforms: feel free to reach out to me ahead of time and let’s brainstorm a bit. I’m quite serious about this. I don’t charge you anything for this kind of advice, and I want you to succeed.

Just send me a note: AskSteve@impactiviti.com. I’m glad to chat with you.

Fifteen minutes could save you…well, you know the rest of the ad!

15 minutes

 

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In my discussions with dozens of training clients over the past year, one theme that came up regularly was the difficulty of finding long-term vendor/partners for POA meetings.

Here are the kinds of concerns I’ve heard:

“A training vendor will start off well, but then things get stale after a few quarters, and we move on to someone else.”

“Our partners do great with modules and workshops, but the POA training is often a mixed bag.”

“We’re not seeing much creativity.”

I’ve wondered about this problem/opportunity for quite some time, and while I think there are probably multiple factors at play, here is one thing that may be at the root: fundamentally, POA training is driven by last-minute scrambling.

Most of our training projects, which involve long cycles of design (including instructional design), review, and implementation, require a set of skills and practices that are more systematic and long-term-ish. But POA meetings are often marketing-driven, and marketers are used to a different agency type of relationship that regularly involves rapid change and quick turn-around. And a lot of stuff is going down in the couple weeks before a very hard deadline.

Are training vendors equipped for that? I think many are not.

Marketing agency relationships (retained AOR) and training vendor relationships (project-driven) run on very different business models. I wonder if this isn’t why it’s difficult for vendors to succeed with POA training.

Maybe there are some other reasons as well. What are your thoughts? What are you doing to make your POA training effective?

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I had some interesting discussions last week with training professionals in the Life Sciences industry, and one of the topics that came up was our approach to developing those rotating into (and out of) our training departments.

Some companies have a pretty well-defined training program for trainers, while other have good intentions, but not much of a plan (or too many time demands to carry it out).

As I see it, there should be (ideally) 4 “buckets” of emphasis when on-boarding and developing trainers from the field:

Training-specific skills (basic level) – such things as facilitation; basic ISD; adult learning principles; etc.

Operational/Functional skills – HQ orientation; MLR review procedures; project/vendor management; etc.

Corporate collaboration skills – influence with/without authority; communication (verbal, writing); networking; etc.

Next-role-prep – specific training as the employee gets ready to transition to a DM or Marketing or (whatever) role.

What do you think? Are these the right categories? What are other topics that you cover in your department?

The question also came up as to whether there should be defined competencies at the front and back end of training rotations – seems intuitive that there should be, but I’m not sure many departments have them (does yours?)

By the way, LTEN offers many of these topics in their Total Trainer Certificate Series. Joining those courses with other customized in-house and outsourced workshops should provide quite a strong foundation for the development of trainers into successful corporate performers.

LTEN TTC

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Leaders need to continually develop new skills (and improve on current ones). But there is one skill that, hands down, is more vital than the rest.

The ability to communicate clearly and effectively.

In sales, management, training, marketing, and executive leadership – in every career role – nothing matters more than communicating effectively with others.

That’s why I spent so much time writing about Clarity. And, that is also why I have a partnership with a company that specializes in communications training.

Led by a published author with a PhD, who lectures at Wharton Business School AND who has many years of experience in the life sciences industry, this partner does workshops (and keynotes) nationwide.

Squirrel_Standing

SQUIRREL!!

As we all know, attention spans are getting shorter and shorter….

SQUIRREL!!

…so it is up to us to train our colleagues in the whole range of communication skills (including facilitation, slide design, writing, and interpersonal collaboration).

If you’re interested in learning more, contact me (AskSteve@impactiviti.com; 973-947-7429) and I’ll connect you up!

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The managed care environment is complex, and ever-evolving. Many learners (new and experienced) struggle to retain all the information presented in eLearning modules, and they rarely go back to reference them.

One of Impactiviti’s partner companies has come up with a customizable Managed Markets Overview in an easy-to-navigate flipbook that makes for a great reference guide for the entire organization. This production incorporates the patient story, and the thoughtful layout and graphics make it easy to retain the information.

Customized pull-through activities that target your team’s specific needs can be created to enhance the impact of this content.

If you would like a sample, please let me know (asksteve@impactiviti.com) and I will connect you with my preferred managed markets training partner.

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Your product is going global, and sales forces from multiple countries have to get up to speed with customized launch meetings and messaging.

Where do you turn for help?

Here is how one of Impactiviti’s preferred vendor-partners helped a growing client with this challenge:

>> Case Study: Global Product Launch Training (single-page download)

global launch

Reach out to us here at Impactiviti (973-947-7429) for any outsource training needs you have – we’ll be happy to recommend an optimal partner!

——-

Impactiviti provides vendor-client “matchmaking” services in the life sciences training area, built on a unique trusted referral network model. We consult and provide vendor advice at no charge for life science companies. Contact Steve Woodruff at asksteve@impactiviti.com

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As I talk to business leaders – owners of small businesses, leaders of departments, etc. – one common theme emerges. It’s the power of the immediate to derail long-term strategic direction.

Tyranny of the UrgentIt has several aliases:

  • Tyranny of the Urgent
  • Reactive Thinking
  • Tactical Overwhelm
  • The Daily Grind (also useful for coffee references)

Call it what you will, it boils down to the fact that being in the weeds of day-to-day execution tends to obscure our long-term thinking. We lose sight of the goal.

In ice hockey, have you ever seen those scrums on the boards where several players are piled up, all kicking at the puck (and whacking each other’s ankles)? The focus is entirely on that little piece of ice and that rubber disk – no-one’s looking at the goal.

Ever felt that way during the week? Yeah, I thought so. Bad for the ankles, I find.

Losing sight of the forest while in the trees is a very common leadership struggle. In fact, for my friends who lead Training and Development groups in biopharma companies, one of the ways in which this is accentuated is the perception that T&D is a “servant” department – Sales and/or Marketing tosses stuff over the wall for Training to execute. No strategic alignment need get in the way of the “Need it NOW!” ;>((

As a solopreneur, I have to fight this battle all the time. I get immersed in low- or no-return activities that pop up in front of me instead of staying on track. I fail to keep my focus on the clients, partners, and opportunities that are most productive long-term. I have to remind myself constantly what really matters – and even then it’s still way too easy to lose sight of the goal.

What about you? How do you stay on track in the midst of the reactive mode that presses in on you daily? Share your tips and practices for the rest of us to learn from!

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