The business world has never been so competitive. Companies and organizations are in a constant struggle to be more successful while still lowering costs. So, with such fierce competition, the people you choose to cooperate with are crucial. Sure, hiring the best talent and offering them excellent training can help you stay at the top of your industry -but why stop with them?
Recently, corporate training has broadened its focus from business’ employees to also include those in the “extended enterprise”. These external stakeholders can play a pivotal role in your company’s success, so you should not neglect training them.
In this post, you will become familiar with extended enterprise training and why your company needs to invest in it. Then, we’ll suggest a few first steps you can take to begin implementing it.
What is extended enterprise training?
Extended enterprise training refers to training offered to a business’ external partners. So, you’re making your training resources available to vendors, consultants, customers, users etc.
The goal of an extended enterprise learning and development program is to make your ‘extended enterprise’ more knowledgeable about your organization. For example, your vision, ethics, products, and services. Is this starting to sound like an unnecessary hassle? Hang on, there are solid reasons why you need to invest in extended enterprise training.
Why implement extended enterprise learning?
There are some major benefits to adopting an external enterprise learning program. Here are five that will greatly impact your organization’s performance.
1. Create a stronger brand
By offering extended enterprise training you can strengthen your brand. How? All your partners will get the same education on your company’s products or services. This consistency can bolster your company’s image in exactly the way you want.
Through extended enterprise training, these third-parties can gain better insight into the values and processes of your company. This makes them better brand ambassadors for your products or services.
2. Drive revenue
Aside from strengthening your branding, an extended enterprise learning and development strategy can also help drive more revenue. By now, your organization has most likely found that training employees on your products, services, and processes get them better results. Same can be said about your extended enterprise.
Distributors who know more about your products will know how to best sell them. Suppliers aware of your processes can adapt their products/services to your needs. Customers who are more knowledgeable about your products need less support, are more satisfied, and promote through word-of-mouth.
3. Reduce risk
An extended enterprise learning solution also lowers risk. It does this by ensuring that all your vendors and suppliers are on the same page. Whether you need to ensure they’re qualified to address the needs of your business or knowledgeable about your products and services to handle customer demands, extended enterprise learning has you covered.
Train your partners and the likelihood of losing customers decreases. It’s that simple.
4. Improve business processes
Have you been meaning to improve your business processes but have found yourself stalling? Just one more reason to adopt extended enterprise training. When you begin training your external partners on an LMS, it will be much easier to track their results and performance, as well as provide an easier feedback system.
This means that you’ll be hitting one bird with two stone: educating your external partners and improving your business processes at the same time.
5. Pick up more advocates
How does an extended enterprise training solution turn your customers into advocates? Easy. By training them. When you train your customers to use your product or service their knowledge grows and customer satisfaction improves.
Make your courses even more powerful by awarding those who complete them with exclusive promotions, certificates, and vouchers. Watch as your customers turn into advocates and your advocates turn into your most ardent sales representatives.
Simply put, more advocates = more sales.
How do you implement extended enterprise training in your business?
Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of extended enterprise learning, you might be saying to yourself, “I’m in, how do I start?” Here are five initial steps you can take once you’ve decided to implement training for your company’s extended enterprise.
Step 1: determine your ‘extended enterprise’
Like any other training program, you need to determine who your targeted learners are. Are these customers, vendors, distributors, etc.? Don’t forget you’ll be training an audience who are not your employees. So, you might need to adjust the approach, the content, or even the training itself to be more suited to the intended learners.
Step 2: define key performance indicators
Results speak louder than words. And like any training and development endeavor, expected outcomes of the program need to be defined and measured early on. Plus, your metrics will depend on who your target audience is.
For example, you will probably track your distributors’ and agents’ training success using sales and/or quality of service. Customer learners will have different KPIs, which will most likely include customer satisfaction, the frequency of use, or conversion rate after taking the training.
Step 3: assess the capabilities of your current LMS
The third step is to find out the capabilities of your current learning management system. Even if it isn’t packaged as an extended enterprise LMS, it might be capable of handling the requirements.
Learning management systems that can handle extended enterprise learning need to have separate content, user profiles, and rules for different groups of learners. As for the additional learners, you’ll be taking on? A capable LMS can accommodate more users as per the licensing agreement.
It’s a great advantage if your current LMS supports all of these requirements. If it doesn’t, then it might be time to transition to a learning management system that is more suitable for your organization and intended learners’ needs.
Step 4: calculate the associated costs of training
Step back and assess the online training process for your business. Is your training team creating online courses in-house? Do you outsource course creation? How much does this process cost, like let’s say, is it broken down for every learner? How do you compute for the return on investment (ROI) of each training course that you run?
You will need to forecast the cost of implementing this type of strategy because it will require a small investment on the organization’s part. Having this information beforehand will make it easier to create a business case to sway stakeholders into adopting the program.
Step 5: create the business case and get it approved
Once you have collected your data and analyzed it. it’s time to create a feasible plan for getting the extended enterprise strategy rolling. We’ve found that programs with a well thought-out implementation plan with a promised return of investment within a reasonable amount of time have higher chances of being approved.
So, crunch your numbers and ensure your plan is realistic and viable. You might even want to consider running a pilot program first before offering it to your entire extended enterprise.
Extended enterprise training solutions encourage learning across channels connecting organizations with customers, suppliers, partners, distributors, and contractors. This connection improves the way your company handles its external partners and can give you a leading edge over your competitors.
It can get you better services from your vendors and suppliers. It can push your partner distributors for more sales. It can also provide more support for your customers and turn them into evangelists. All it takes is convincing your stakeholders, both internal and external, that the investment is worth it.