There’s a saying in French that the shoe-maker often has the worst shoes ― meaning that we often neglect our own needs even in the areas that we specialize in. This fits an enterprise IT department quite well, as programers, despite creating cutting edge technology are not very quick to adopt it in their job.
Languages like C and C++ still prevail, decades after their introduction and despite their warts. Millions of coders forgo modern development environments for 40 years old text editors. And, which brings us to today’s topic, IT departments are not among the first to adopt eLearning tools and technologies, that have taken the rest of the enterprise by storm.
It doesn’t really make much sense. If an accounting or a marketing company can benefit tremendously from using a learning management system (LMS), an IT company or a large enterprise IT department can get a whole lot more out of it.
For starters because an IT department has an increased need for training new hires, as the technology field changes much faster than most other fields (obviously much faster than accounting).
Second because it has an enormous breadth and depth of material (tens of popular programming languages, hundreds of frameworks, thousands of libraries and APIs, tens of thousands of specialized tools — and we haven’t even mentioned the core computer science: algorithms, complexity, linear algebra, etc).
And third, because the IT department can get even more out of an LMS. It’s trivial for them to use it (even if it’s easy enough for everybody to begin with, like eFront is), and it’s also trivial for them to extend it, taking advantage of its plugin API and extension capabilities, to fit any unique needs or processes they might have.
So, here’s a few ways IT companies and enterprise IT departments, big and small, can take advantage of eLearning:
Employee orientation is the task of introducing new hires to your working environment and giving them the basic information they need to start being productive, including your company’s operating procedures and policies, restrictions and guidelines.
I hope that an IT department doesn’t need to be sold in the value of automating employee orientation. After all automation is at the very core of what IT does. You might already have a crude scheme in place for that, e.g. tossing some relevant information in your intranet pages, but that’s nowhere as effective as using a proper LMS.
Because giving new hires online access to your orientation material is just the first part. An LMS covers that, lets you easily include third party information (videos, wikipedia articles, presentations, etc), and lets you organize the material in a formal way and even access your new hire’s progress and understanding of the material with tests and automated grading.
And if there’s a legal dispute between your company and the new hire, the LMS with its attendance and completion tracking, can serve as proof that you have indeed provided knowledge of things like company policy, sexual harassment laws, etc. to the employee (check this with a lawyer, as local laws may vary).
Training and re-training is a constant in IT.
Technologies change, project requirements vary, and even IT trends can influence your technology stack for year to year.
Instead of bringing in specialized and costly instructors, or asking your senior employees to train the rest (not only disrupting their workflow but diverting them from the actual job you pay them top dollar to do), you could invest in an eLearning solution, to help train your new (and old) employees without business disruptions.
eLearning also works for subjects that none of your employees knows about (e.g. adopting a totally new programming language, like Apple’s Swift), and can even be combined with classroom based instruction, in a hybrid learning scenario (which eFront supports like a champ, though we call it “blended” learning).
The same benefits as with eLearning based employee orientation apply here too: you get quantifiable information and statistics for your employees’ progress and understanding of the material.
Our product, for example, contains a comprehensive reporting system that helps you stay on top of your employee’s training.
Knowledge retention is a big problem in IT companies and enterprise IT departments. Every company has a few older employees or lone wolf programmers that only them know some crucial parts of its code or some special arcana related to older projects.
An eLearning solution will help you store all this information in a formalized and easily accessible way. Let your employees poor their wisdom into your LMS, describing their workflow and sharing any particularly obscure knowledge they possess.
If you do it thoroughly, the end result would be a detailed description of how your company operates that is safe from changes in your team and can be studied and taught to new hires.
Where an LMS trumps a document management system for this, is in that you don’t only get an online document library and a reference source, but you can also use that same material to train new employees or teach existing employees.
Understanding that one size doesn’t always fit all, eFront was designed from the start to be adaptable, and we provide an extension API with full documentation.
While this option might go whoosh over the heads of other customers, an IT company is perfectly capable of taking advantage of it and extending it.
If you can talk PHP (and even if not, a decent programmer can learn enough to create his own eFront plugins in a day or two), you can make eFront do whatever you want it to, from connecting to your logging system to being accessible from Visual Studio (or Emacs, Eclipse, IDEA, you get the point), to talking to your REST based service.
Then contact us without any further obligations for a demo, and start thinking of the ways it can improve your business and your workflow. Oh, and here is the plugin guide: http://www.efrontlearning.net/blog/2015/03/introducing-efrontpro-plugin-guide.html – your coders will appreciate that too.
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