Online compliance training: technology as tutor

by 21 Jul 2009

There have been a number of important technological developments in online compliance training. Craig Donaldson examines these trends and looks at how HR can maximise the return on investment in online compliance training

Online compliance training has evolved over the years to become a sophisticated, yet cost-effective, method of delivering training, and there have been a number of recent technological developments in the area, according to experts in the field.

The improvement in standards-based integration of learn ing assets with Learning Management Systems (LMS) will open new doors for flexibility and maintenance of online training content, while Open Learning Services Architecture (OLSA) is also gaining traction as a preferred integration method for the online learning industry, according to Julian Fenwick, CEO of Blake Dawson Technology, which offers a web-based legal compliance training solution called salt.

The implementation of OLSA allows for the separation of content repository from a client’s LMS, he says, and organi sations that have an LMS that has OLSA, such as NetDi mensions, Saba, SumTotal and others, can benefit immediately.

Rob Stewart, director of sales and marketing for SAFE TRAC, which was launched by Minter Ellison Lawyers in 1999 and provides a number of compliance training and testing solutions, also says that ways of maintaining up- to-date content and data are becoming far less onerous because different platforms are able to accommodate and cross pollinate each other. “Customised solutions are becoming more and more commonplace as online tools are developed to make this easier to achieve,” he says.

Adam Dunkley, marketing manager for e3Learning – which provides a number of solutions, including a learn ing and compliance management system called LearnForce – also notes that technology in online compliance training is moving rapidly, and one of the key areas of growth is the need for online hosted solutions to integrate with existing HR systems. “This will ensure records between systems are synchronised, reducing administration,” he says.

Improving results and ROI

Where online compliance training is considered as insurance against the risk of a breach, it is easier to consider return on investment (ROI) as just insuring business collateral against loss or damage, according to Stewart.

“However, users need to see value in the time they invest, so the mere fact that they are exposed to knowledge train ing that can assist them, not only in the incumbent role but for future roles, is quite powerful,” he says. “On from that, it is important that they are engaged by judicious use of scenarios and graphics that relate directly to their role/business/industry.”

Dunkley says the starting point of good ROI is negoti ating a good deal. “Don’t get locked into contracts – there are enough suppliers out there who will not charge you exit fees and penalties for leaving contracts,” he says.

In gaining traction with any online compliance train ing, Dunkley says any such programs must be manda tory. “We have seen many e-learning rollouts fail because companies insist on a voluntary program. The reality is that people are too busy to voluntarily take up compliance training. Our advice – choose a great prod uct that is engaging and educationally sound and make it compulsory,” he says.

Fenwick says that in developing an ROI methodology for compliance training, it is important to look at the pos itive factors of implementing a compliance culture in your organisation. “It is easy to say that by having a Trade Prac tices training program in place, we have reduced our risk of exposure to fines and other penalties under the Trade Practices Act, but this has to be matched with data inform ing us of the risk,” he says.

“Today it isn’t enough to just report on how many staff completed a course. Legal counsel, risk and compliance managers need data that will help them quickly see trends and act on those trends for continuous improvement and risk mitigation. Senior management wants metrics linked to business objectives.”

Technology trends

Over the coming three to five years, Dunkley says, every company in Australia will either be using online compliance training or exploring its benefits. The cost comparison of traditional training versus online for compliance is “too great a divide”, he says.

Businesses will also have a broader selection of “off the shelf” courses and a library of internally built courses, according to Dunkley. A key to success will be SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model, a collection of standards and specifications for web-based e-learning). “This international standard will ensure that courses built internally, from multiple suppliers and custom developers, can all be run seamlessly on the same system,” Dunkley says.

With broadband becoming more readily available, Stewart predicts richer and more sophisticated solutions that can operate only in a high-bandwidth environments, such as rich plug-ins and media players underscored by online assessments.

In the future, Stewart also says, outcomes from online compliance training will need to be reported in much smarter ways, and an organisation’s compliance policy will drive the behaviour of the management, analysis and report presentation of its online compliance management system.

With the advent of the global financial crisis, Fenwick says the online compliance training market is sure to grow, as organisations move toward e-learning for improved cost benefit and as governments react to the situation with an increase in regulation.

He predicts a number of key changes in content and delivery, including: an increase in role/risk-based curric ula to minimise unnecessary training and improve user interest; an increase in on-demand resources, refreshers and updates; and enhancement of testing and reporting functionality to meet the increasing demands of regulators and management.

Key factors to include when measuring ROI

• What boards and CEOs need to know about compliance activities in their organisation

• The link between training and positive compliance outcomes

• Business result linkage through staff satisfaction, improved brand reputation and other factors

• Actionable metrics which identify potential and actual

compliance breaches

• Measures to communicate and improve as per the

Australian standard on compliance AS3806

Source: Julian Fenwick, CEO, Blake Dawson Technology