Extended Enterprise Learning

The supply chain stuff is really tricky.” – Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX

Business and human endeavors are systems…we tend to focus on snapshots of isolated parts of the system. And wonder why our deepest problems never get solved.” ― Peter M. Senge

Extended enterprise learning for the supply chain

And yet most businesses are so much more than the one organisation. Increasingly, business delivery relies on a supply chain or a co-joined system of businesses working together.

How successfully this is achieved is, amongst other things, associated with the ability to transfer knowledge across the chain. But this requirement flies in the face of traditional training, usually commissioned by Learning and Development teams, for internal employees.


The role of the LMS

Most LMSs are brought in to train the employees of the company but what happens when the target audience is different; when the audience is the sales channel, the customers of the product, the distributors or intermediaries?

This is known as Extended Enterprise. Business Dictionary describes the extended enterprise as the:
wider organization – representing all associated entities customers, employees, suppliers, distributors, etc who directly or indirectly, formally or informally, collaborate in the design, development, production, and delivery of a product to the end user.

Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/extended-enterprise.html


Benefits of Extended Enterprise Training

The many benefits of putting specific extended enterprise training procedures in place include:

  • Standardisation of understanding
  • Brand consistency
  • Customisation of training
  • Tracking of learning outcomes

It can also mark product owners apart where there are choices for intermediaries. It is worth remembering that in some industries churn of staff can be very high. Anything which motivates and engages people is very helpful in reducing that churn and a reputation on delivering excellence in training is a clear help.

Many of the ‘top quartile’ LMSs tend towards attempting to facilitate talent management and can become ‘bloated’ and complex both for the administration team to set up and for the learner to come to terms with. So when it comes to managing the extended enterprise, the focus of the LMS and the LMS supplier needs to change and other priorities become the focus of attention.


Core requirements they need to focus on:

  1. Ease of navigation for the learner
  2. Integration with other platforms such as CRMs
  3. Ease of white-labelling or branding both of the core domain and also by course
  4. Support with learning solution design to ensure understanding of complex products ad services and enhancement of product reputation


Delivering Capability into Sales Channels

The supply chain for many services and products can rely upon partners and channels for delivery to the end user. Consequently, channel partners require support in understanding complex products and it is the product manufacturer or supplier that is in the position to deliver excellence in product knowledge.

Increasing sales confidence and competence among external partners has direct impact on sales numbers and adoption. High performing sales organisations are twice as likely to provide on-going training support as low performing companies. Delivering this competence and confidence is a defining USP which marks high performing organisations apart from the rest. Online delivery can be exceptionally helpful in this area. The target audience is frequently distributed, requires training according to their timetable and not a training calendar. What is more, referral to learning support at point of need for the sales channel representatives is critical. All these aspects mean that online learning is an ideal solution.

Success factors for online learning delivery in the extended enterprise include:

  • An intuitive interface and operation so learners focus on the learning, not the platform.
  • Multimedia supporting learning with best media including animations, podcasts and video.
  • A portfolio of learning tools and content.
  • Certificate trail and flexible assessment to reward progress.


In Conclusion

Success in achieving end results through the supply chain relies upon great transfer of skills and knowledge whether that is increased sales, greater adoption of products or increased confidence. Achieving this relies upon bringing together the subject matter experts, capability in learning design together with a suitable LMS/platform delivery. Above all, ensure that all these are flexible, timely and relevant.

Interested in how we can help your organisation to deliver supply chain excellence through extended enterprise training?


Further Reading

Bespoke sales training solutions and expert consultancy from WillowDNA.

Evaluate your sales maturity now by using our interactive PDF.

Our approach to helping clients use extended enterprise training for selling complex products effectively throughout the supply chain.