Learning Management

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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It is the goal of the learning management field to give companies the tools they need to track and manage their employees' success. Admittedly, this is a broad and vaguely defined goal, so it is helpful to break learning management down into its constituent parts. Only then can a company identify where it is succeeding and where it is failing in the training of its employees.

Learning management includes a number of features both conceptual and practical. It may, for instance, measure an employee's aptitude with a specific software application such as Microsoft Excel or PowerPoint. At the same time, it can be used to track his or her grasp of principles such as leadership, conflict management, and customer service.

What, Specifically, Does Learning Management Do?

With learning management software, employers can follow their workers' progression through training courses and manuals, keep apace of their credentialing, administer tests and quizzes, and maintain contacts with clients and customers. A good learning management program can also help bosses identify possible bottlenecks to efficiency throughout their corporations or in specific departments. In this respect, learning management is a suitable alternative to professional management consulting, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Another primary feature of learning management systems is standardization. These days, many companies operate from distant reaches of the globe, in busy central offices as well as remote satellite buildings, in big cities and small towns, and all at the same time. What's needed then is a way for CEOs, CFOs, and managers to ensure that all workers are being trained uniformly.

The Value of Standardization

Many of the world's leading companies make standardization the watch word of their organizations to ensure a robust bottom line. From Starbucks and McDonalds to Nike and Microsoft, companies that wish to "go global" must ensure that their customers and clients are receiving the exact same product throughout the world. A double venti latte in New York should (and does) taste exactly like a double venti latte in New Delhi.

It's not just "nondurable" items such as food that must adhere to strict standardization. A software product such as a word processing program or spreadsheet must have the same features no matter where it's being deployed. In that same vein, customer service operations for worldwide companies such as airlines and automakers must have a roughly uniform system of receiving and managing calls as well as providing solutions. With learning management software, this is no longer just a dream.

The Push for Profitability

There is one goal that unites each of the companies that embarks on a learning management system, and that's greater profitability. To that end, corporations must make hard decisions abut how and where to allocate resources, how best to train employees, and where to cut the proverbial fat. With this mandate come a few looming dangers, one of which is the inherent unquantifiability of such decisions.

What does a department reduced by half translate to in real dollars? What sort of return on investment (ROI) can a supervisor expect after updating his or her staff's training literature and software? One of the aims of learning management systems is to assign hard numbers to these floating values in order to distinguish successful initiatives from failing ones.

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