Increase Focus on Employee TrainingWritten By Mary Seaman
Article Date: 07-01-2004
Copyright (C) 2004 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
Berry Companies is using AED's LMS to provide a path to training and succession.
Since Berry Companies was founded in 1957 by Fred Berry Jr. and his brother Paul, the company has maintained a strong commitment to employee training. As part of the company’s strategic plan to place a stronger emphasis on employee training and succession planning, the company has begun using AED’s new Learning Management System (LMS). The LMS is designed to help companies manage and provide employee education by allowing users to plan, select, coordinate and record employee learning experiences online.
"The action plan we wanted to pursue was the training of employees and succession planning," says Walter Berry, president or Berry Cos.
Berry Cos., based in Wichita, Kan., has seven operating divisions with 23 locations in five states. Five of the operating units are in construction equipment distribution, one is in industrial distribution and the seventh is a manufacturer of construction brooms. As the holding company, Berry Cos. provides financial, accounting, data processing, advertising and administrative support for the operating units.
“All we had were employee files,” says Berry.
Before teaming up with AED, Berry Cos. had hired a company to keep track of its more than 400 employee records.
“We tried to set something up with another company that didn’t work out for us,” says Judy Worrell, vice president-treasurer. “It was labor-intensive and cost-prohibitive.”
AED launched the LMS in April. Berry Cos. now has access to more than 200 employee records on the site.
“Training and development will become a bigger part of what we do. This LMS system is very timely and will be quite useful,” says Worrell.
What the LMS provides
The LMS provides dealers with the ability to record learning through OEMs, colleges and books, as well as seminars, annual meeting programs, independent study courses and e-learning through AED University. The system also allows dealer employees, supervisors and owners appropriate levels of access to employee records.
Worrell says they plan to have employees divided by divisions and branches, so a supervisor can view records of employees in his or her location.
The setup for the LMS includes automated email notification of course assignments and impending re-training requirements. Central tracking of training data and audit trails helps supervisors and users manage and achieve continuous improvement goals, as well as demonstrate regulatory compliance. After a student completes an AED Foundation course, they take a post-assessment. A copy of the results and related learning objectives are then sent to the supervisor.
With the student log-in, users can sign up for courses, view training records and check their progress. Employees can enter information on previously completed courses into their student profiles. Supervisors can check an employee’s progress, download employee records and enroll a student in a course.
The LMS has been designed to host and launch SCORM and AICC compliant courses.
Tracking employee training
The LMS will allow Berry Cos. to better focus on employee development and appraise employee performance.
“We want supervisors to be able to pull up an employee’s record and coach them, to help them plan for each employee’s progress and to compensate accordingly,” says Worrell. “Also, we want employees to follow their own development. The way the system is designed they can look at their own records.”
According to Angela Claney, Berry’s training coordinator, the LMS will be especially helpful as the company works to develop their own employees to move into management. Claney is working to assess training needs, which will provide employees a training path to follow to reach management levels.
Using the LMS, Berry Cos. employees have the ability to work toward their own development and move into the management track if they so desire. It will be between the supervisor and the employee to make sure the employee enrolls and completes the courses necessary for the management track, says Claney.
“I think the LMS will make us more purposeful about how we train,” says Walter Berry. “If we have an individual that wants to advance, we can set up the kind of training we think they should have and then track their progress.”
With the LMS, Berry Cos. can track what training the employees have completed, assess whether they think the training was effective, and supplement it with internal training programs, says Claney.
When the company is faced with a job opening, supervisors will be able to look at an employee’s file on the LMS to determine if they have the training necessary to fill the role.
“We’ll start by selecting a career path for advancement, then determine the employee’s strengths and weaknesses, then look at where they have had more structured training,” says Berry. “We are going to fill in the gaps more intentionally than just letting it happen, as we’ve done in the past.”
With 23 locations in five states, Worrell says the LMS is an ideal way to keep track of employee training records. The system gives the managers and employees the ability to access the information remotely from their locations.
“Most programs you can purchase are either cost-prohibitive or they do not allow you to share that information online,” says Claney.
The LMS is free to investors in the AED Foundation; non-investors can participate for a nominal fee. The LMS can also be customized into a private label site, like the one the Berry Cos. uses at an additional cost.
As for disadvantages, Worrell says there aren’t many. While it is a huge undertaking to get all of the information into the system initially, Worrell points out that it would be that way with any system.
“If you can’t measure something you can’t have much of an effect on it,” says Walter Berry. “The LMS will help us measure training.”
For more information on the LMS, call 630-574-0650.
Excerpted from July 2004 Construction Equipment Distribution.
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