Big businesses have big demands. And it is not some kind of posturing to scare off competitors, or because they forgot how to operate efficiently — it’s a natural result of doing things at scale.
It’s like how you can easily prepare a nice meal for a family in a small kitchen, but it would be a total nightmare if you had to cook for, say, forty patrons in the same space, especially if everyone was to order a different dish.
You’d need more stoves, more sinks, more and bigger pots, fancy mixers and blenders and food processors, and large enough baking pans for starters.
It’s the same with any kind of enterprise software, from a word processor to an online training platform — they need to have lots of features that might be redundant for smaller installations, but become essential in a large corporate context.
Note, however, that the inverse does not hold: small and medium businesses are perfectly fine with using enterprise-grade software, even if they don’t need all the features themselves.
To continue my earlier analogy, it would be like having access to a restaurant kitchen to cook your family meal in — you don’t really need it, but still, all the pro equipment makes cooking so much easier.
In this post, we are going to examine the kind of features that an online training platform needs to possess in order to cover the needs of a large enterprise.
1) An enterprise-grade LMS must offer flexible installation options.
Too many modern software platforms just offer a Cloud edition — which, while great for many use cases, it is not necessarily a good fit for every company or organization, especially one that wants to control all aspects of its enterprise servers and corporate intranet.
eFront, on the other hand, gives you the ultimate flexibility on the matter, as a company can run it on its own locally-hosted servers, on its own private cloud, or even as a fully managed private cloud solution hosted and administered by its creators themselves.
2) Installation might have gone great, but before doing anything with your LMS you need to be able to log in to it.
Sure, you could just sit back and marvel at its login screen, but logging in makes for a far better experience — and allows you to proceed to actually train your employees with it.
In the enterprise world, authentication is pretty much synonymous with Single Sign-On (SSO) support, and it’s one of the LMS features that large enterprises depend on.
With dozens of different software platforms running on their intranet, SSO allows companies to centralize access to everything and frees their employees from having to create and remember lots of different account credentials.
3) Small businesses can afford to play fast and loose with their software systems and networks. Big enterprises don’t have that luxury — there are literally millions (and sometimes billions) at stake.
Fortunately, securing enterprise systems is not the arcane art that it was in decades past. Nowadays there are a number of pretty well-established standards and best practices that software installations should offer.
Things like 2-factor authentication (2FA), access control privileges, SSL support, password rules and expiration policies, and all sorts of secure coding techniques to thwart hacking attempts (XSS, CSRF, and SQL-injection prevention, etc).
eFront offers all of the above plus several more (e.g. IP whitelisting, db configuration encryption, system information hiding, etc.) and adds support for “21 CFR Part 11”, the US Federal Government standard for secure and reliable electronic record storage.
What’s more, with eFront being available as a local or a private Cloud installation option, big enterprises get to totally configure and secure its environment according to their own intranet standards (something not possible with software as a service).
4) Seldom are two enterprises alike — even if they cater to the same market, they probably still differ in philosophy, approach, technologies used, organizational structure, and lots of other factors.
Enterprise software should be flexible enough to handle those unique needs, and your choice of online training platform is no exception.
It should be easy to extend with custom functionality, and it should allow for integration with all kinds of other software systems and services an enterprise might have (from their CRM and ERP platforms, to back-office applications, collaboration platforms, authentication systems, reporting backends, and more).
This includes the ability to brand the system to reflect your corporate identity (or multiple corporate identities, in the case of subsidies or extended enterprise networks).
eFront, for example, makes it extremely easy to integrate it with everything, as it offers not only dozens of native integrations (from LDAP and WordPress to IBM Connections), but also thousands of additional integrations through the Zapier middleware service, and not one, but two API options (native PHP-based plugin API, and REST API).
As for custom branding, eFront allows administrators to drastically alter its looks (creating custom themes, adding dynamic behaviors through JS, etc.) on a per-Branch basis.
Thus far we have mainly covered the many aspects of integrating a learning platform to your enterprise IT environment — that is, the features and requirements that apply to all kinds of enterprise software, whether it’s an LMS or an accounting platform.
With those aspects covered, however, it’s now time to talk actual business: what eLearning and talent development-related features should an enterprise-grade online training platform have, and what kinds of corporate training it should support.
Which leads us to…
5) Employee onboarding — the task of giving your new hires a thorough overview of your company, the resources available to them, the environment they will be working in, and their roles and responsibilities, is at the core of your large enterprise online training platform, and especially important for companies with seasonal hiring, large churn rates, or continuous growth.
An enterprise-grade online training platform should be able to handle all stages of employee onboarding, from the mere presentation of informational material (e.g. message from the CEO, company history, etc.), to making new hires aware of things like safety regulations, customer support policies, discrimination and harassment laws, and of course, to training them on their new roles.
eFront allows businesses to organize and structure their training programs appropriately for all kinds of target audiences, making it a breeze to, for instance, handle the automatic mass assignment of onboarding courses to specific groups of users based on their roles and prior skills.
Plus, since its role doesn’t end with onboarding training, it will continue to be a handy reference guide for new hires on their first months or years on the job, and it will be already familiar to employees undergoing training in later stages of their career.
6) Any large business, regardless of the industry that they operate in, will find themselves sooner or later having to deal with compliance training.
Some compliance training needs will be government- or industry-mandated (e.g. to be able to participate in some government tender), while others might be based on intrinsic company needs (e.g. to assure that only certain well-training employees have access to some specialized equipment).
Whatever the case, corporate users should be able to receive certifications for their training. This means that it’s imperative that any potential online training platform has the ability to track any certificates awarded and handle their eventual expiration and periodic re-training needs.
eFront, once again, offers a comprehensive set of compliance training features, from flexible certification options to certificate tracking, expiration notifications, and compliance reports. It also allows you to create custom certificate templates to match your corporate branding and styling.
7) The most important asset a modern enterprise has is its people, and a corporate training program represents an investment in both the company’s future and their career development.
This inarguably means that you need to be able to manage your investment, i.e. track and train users of different levels, to help instructors identify employees that need assistive training, and to help them assign appropriate learning materials based on each user’s needs.
On this front, eFront gives Instructors many useful talent development features, from Jobs and Skills tags for each employee, to tests that automatically identify and assign employee skills or inversely suggest further training options to them, in order obtain the skills that they lack.
8) Enterprises must have insight on every aspect of their operation, and their training programs are no exception.
The ideal enterprise online training platform must provide up-to-the-minute tracking of learning activity, detailed reporting on different granularity levels, and comprehensive statistics for various aspects of the training process. At the very least, it should provide insight into learner process (for individuals and classes/groups), attendance records, and course completions.
eFront’s report covers all that and more, including the ability to create Custom Reports with expansive filtering options letting you narrow down the displayed statistics to find just what you’re interested in.
Reports can also be generated automatically, scheduled for periodic delivery, and used to perform mass actions (such as assigning all users that are shown to perform low on a report to a specific course).
In this post, we had a look at the most important features and characteristics that a large enterprise online training platform must have, and examined how eFront, our flagship self-hosted and private Cloud Learning and Talent Development platform fares in those respects.
If you are interested in deploying your own enterprise training program, or you want to learn more about eFront’s features and plans, please contact our sales and support team. Alternatively, open your own eFront account (it only takes a minute), and take the platform for a test drive today!