Introduction & Business Needs
This case study will discuss the introduction of Microsoft SharePoint as a knowledge management and training repository for a Global bank in a financial services customer facing line of business. Direct groups supported include staff in North America, but due to the nature of the industry users also include teams in Europe and India in particular. The audiences are Client Service officers, who need access to functional knowledge of 15+ proprietary systems, financial market conditions, client specific product offerings, and many desk/client procedures.
Upon arriving in 2007 as trainer I encountered a group that had not had any training much less updates and revisions to material in three years. Previous training was conducted in three classroom sessions. Systems were introduced back to back regardless if they were critical or not. New Hires and refresher training were put on hold until these sessions could be scheduled.
In addition to the unnecessary amount of information about the systems, there was no possibility to have training pcs or virtual environments where people could practice without the risk of disrupting live accounts.
Training materials were stored on various levels of personal drives and shared folders with no version control so to speak of. Any other materials were distributed to staff via email. Staff currently receives close to 250-300 emails a day so many times updates are deleted in favor of client based traffic. Also it is fair to note that many times corporate email spacing issues inhibited the sending of key attachments to staff.
Subject Matter Expert and student time away from desks was also a large issue. At best staff could only manage one hour away for their desks and depending on their client relationship both morning and afternoon sessions were ruled out (typically European and Asian markets are am heavy, while US and Canada relationships close when the US market closes, i.e. afternoons).
This translated to SME and experienced staff having to do the lion share of work to cover any new hire during their long learning curve. These same people were also the ones called to give classes. Therefore if a SME taught more than one class in the previous paradigm their teams would suffer and put them behind for weeks.
The bank does have learning and content management systems (LMS & CMS) available but after an initial assessment I found them to be bogged down with enterprise level information and courses (Compliance, MS Office, out dated market materials). The GUI and navigation was long and cluttered. Users need to 1) log into an employee portal, and then 2) re-login to the LMS or CMS, and finally 3) run key word searches to finally scroll and filter through the results. Although this does not take long, it is extremely fastidious for the end users.
On the content development side, access and control of these systems were held in central offices in New York. Gaining access to upload materials consisted of going thru various corporate channels. I would have had to have all material documented to be reviewed and uploaded by the perspective teams who owned internal content and learning management systems. Again, being a part of a large corporate there are many bureaucratic steps that would have entailed proposals for server space, development costs for technology and infrequency when updating.
While the LMS & CMS systems could track results and build transcripts, the just in time training model and knowledge management needed for my team did not fit the parameters of theses systems.
Initial Assessment & Proposal
Previously training classes covered everything about each system then moved on to another system with out much background or interconnecting reasoning being delivered. Therefore knowledge retention was lost as soon as the employee either moved onto another system in training or when they reached the live desks.
It was decided by management that tracking usage was more important than tracking results. If the knowledge paradigm was to become one of libraries of job aids there was not a need to track assessment scores.
The first step would be to create confirmed and centralized library right away to enable the development and validation of procedures and materials. To increase systems training efficacy online “just in time format” tutorials that followed what staff needed to do in respects to their desk procedures rather than understanding the limits and capacities of each individual system would be developed.
Adobe Captivate was chosen to develop the 2-3 minute Web/flash based tutorials. This tool was chosen due to my expertise with it. Camtasia is similar product and would also have been sufficient. Soft copy procedures would be developed via the necessary MS office files were to be published as pdfs in categories.
Because versioning had gotten out of hand, keeping content in a locked down environment would lower the risk of gold copies being updated and dispersed without control. It also allows my group to brand materials and earn the reputation as a leader in Knowledge Management as files are passed throughout the internal global audience.
How SharePoint Fits in
SharePoint was chosen based on its efficient work environment. As previously mentioned corporate wide Content and Learning Management Systems did not offer the efficient ability to develop and maintain content. The fact that SharePoint was already deployed it enterprise-wide provided an opportunity to deploy materials at a cost benefit.
SharePoint also offered the ability to launch effective knowledge management by categorizing files and materials as apposed to having a large shared folder system. Centralizing all content would also provide a much needed reduction in email traffic as well as providing a one stop source for a global audience.
Other advantages that led to SharePoint being chosen as a solution was its familiar web based interface. The learning curve to use SharePoint is much easier since it resembles web pages rather than complex Knowledge management systems.
From a content development point of view it also allowed for permission based control to keep versioning under control. And finally it allowed for the publication of Multimedia Flash based tutorials that are a key element to the training roll out plan.