EPISODE 48 – TOPIC SUMMARY AND GUEST:
Today’s guest has carved out a unique and profitable position as a learning technology innovator. Stephan Pineau is CEO of Training Orchestra.
20 years ago, he founded the company because he saw an opportunity to create a system that works in conjunction with any LMS to manage all the back-end complexity of training administration – scheduling, resource allocation, budget tracking, instructor optimization and more.
As the training world embraces new hybrid learning models, Training Orchestra’s system is in greater demand than ever. So I asked Stephan to share his perspective on how the training industry continues to shift in a post-pandemic world…
- Despite the rise of e-learning, classroom training remained a pillar of many learning strategies for nearly two decades. But that changed overnight when Covid struck and online learning became the only option. Now, hybrid learning models are starting to gain traction.
- Hybrid learning strategies naturally increase training administration complexity. This, in turn, is leading many organizations to automate logistical tasks they previously managed manually.
- Training resource management systems are a viable solution. They work side-by-side with an LMS to add value in ways that learning professionals may not initially consider.
Your company works with many huge training organizations. But it’s not a household name. So could you start by telling us a bit about it?
Yes. Training Orchestra provides a training resource management system that helps organizations coordinate training much more efficiently. This includes scheduling classes, managing trainers, assigning training rooms – all the logistics and financial operations needed in one system.
Also, we offer an instructor engagement portal to ease communication with trainers.
Interesting. So, does this replace a learning management system or learning experience platform?
Well, with more than 750 learning systems available today, there is no need for another LMS or LXP.
This is why we strive to complement the LMS and the LXP in everything we do, rather than to overlap.
How does that work?
Today we serve more than 600 clients. These organizations already have very good LMS and LXP systems in place, because they need a strong LMS to deliver e-learning content and manage learners.
However, these clients were wasting a lot of time because their teams were using Excel spreadsheets and Outlook to support instructor-led training, virtual instructor-led training and hybrid learning.
They were managing logistics and instructor support with phone calls and emails. That approach is not efficient. There was no guarantee that they could find the best available instructor for each class, or optimize the allocation of training space or other resources.
So our system makes it easy to schedule a session, find the best available trainer and collaborate with experts – which is sometimes very difficult because an organization can have hundreds or thousands of subject matter experts.
And you can guarantee that the plan is free of scheduling conflicts or errors. All of these things complement the strengths of an LMS or LXP.
Okay. And your company is 20 years old, is that right?
Yes. Think about what big systems like PeopleSoft and SAP were doing 20 years ago. That’s when the market moved to e-learning and those systems began transforming themselves into learning management systems.
As they progressively focused on e-learning, they began to put the learner at the core of their systems. Now, those LMSs have become heavily investing in managing e-learning, which represents something like 30% of total training investment today. And many of those companies are doing very well as a result of their decision to go in that direction.
But we focus strictly on the other 70% of investment in learning programs, where an instructor leads the session. This can be in-person classroom training, or a virtual classroom session, or a hybrid learning experience.
This kind of training deserves continued innovation. And so for 20 years, we’ve focused on helping organizations fully utilize their trainers, streamline communications with subject matter experts and make the most of their available budget and time.
This extends to any L&D department or extended enterprise learning organization or training company. Our solution can serve them all.
Could you tell me what an LMS is missing in managing ILT, VILT or hybrid learning resources?
That’s an excellent question. Organizations with an LMS can absolutely create a session, a training event, or an offering – to use concepts that typically exist in an LMS. And in the LMS, you can register a learner in a class, a session or an offering.
But what happens when it’s time to find the best available trainer for a particular class? Do you know who is authorized and available to teach that class? Can you guarantee that you won’t create a scheduling conflict for this instructor?
There are many other questions, as well. Do you need to assign a simulator to the class? Do you know how to find an available room with the necessary equipment and infrastructure? Does this class have complex needs that require multiple resources?
So as soon as you need to book the best trainer and find the best available resources, you need to manage the process manually. None of that exists in an LMS. But guaranteed conflict-free planning is what we do at Training Orchestra.
Let me ask you a question, John. Why have you been successful in your life? Probably because you’ve had great teachers.
It’s important to be a great learner. But finding the best available instructor for a class makes a big difference.
Also, we see a lot of financial pressure on training organizations. They tell us cost reduction is the main reason they moved from ILT to e-learning over the years.
But when we ask, “How do you control your training investments today?” They say, “We use Excel spreadsheets.”
I love Microsoft. Training Orchestra is built on Microsoft Azure. And personally, I love .xls. But how can you manage $100 million, $200 million, or half a billion dollars of training investment a year in Excel and Outlook? And how can you manage 500 full-time dedicated instructors or 10,000 subject matter experts with spreadsheets, email and phone calls?
Good question. So how did the Covid quarantine affect hybrid learning, from your perspective? How did in-person training providers adapt?
Thanks for asking this question John, because it’s very important. 18 months ago, managing a training operation with an Excel spreadsheet was difficult. But now it is impossible.
For example, in the past, a classroom training session may have run for 3 consecutive days with one instructor in one room. But in a hybrid learning world, there is much more complexity.
The same trainer might be assigned to the hybrid class, and you still need a classroom for the in-person training portion. But on top of that, you need a producer to support the trainer technically with a virtual classroom. So you expand from 2 key resources to 4.
And now, instead of running for 3 full consecutive days, you’ll want to organize a sequence of 5 or 6 half-day sessions. But finding great trainers who are available when you need them to lead this kind of hybrid learning class is more difficult than ever, with so much demand for the best talent now.
Hmm. I never thought about a lack of great virtual trainers!
So let me clarify something. How do you distinguish between virtual instructor-led training and hybrid learning…?