A corporate university must have some sort of unified delivery system for scheduling, online courses, classroom course schedules and descriptions, tracking, and instructor and facilities scheduling. It would be difficult to plan so heavily for the roll out of the corporate university only to find out that there is no way to deliver. So the next best practice is to purchase or build a Learning Management System (LMS).
Choosing an LMS is an important step for any Learning and Development organization. In fact, some organizations may already have a functioning LMS when they make the transition from training department to corporate university. But if you do not have an LMS, the setup phase of your corporate university is the time to buy, build, or “freeware” a system. You definitely don’t want to have to backtrack in order to catch up on scheduling, curriculum paths, and course tracking after the university is up and running.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 24, 2010 NO COMMENTS
You’ve put quite a bit of time and effort into the planning of the corporate university and you may have already spent some of your budget money. The next best practice to consider is the structure of the corporate university, which includes policies, procedures, and standards. Let’s examine some common elements of a university structure.
First of all, a key point to keep in mind is that a corporate university is not like a regular university. Regardless of the name, your corporate university is still based on creating value and not just delivering academics. If your planning process gets too complicated, step back and look at the university entity with this key point in mind. But in the meantime, you should definitely create a structure that includes policies, procedures, and standards.
What policies will the corporate university and its learners have to adhere to? For example, will you set a class size minimum for delivery? If not, you may find that instructors are engaged to teach classes for two people versus 12, which may not be cost effective. What about an honor system code for training, especially online training that may be reportable, such as compliance. It may seem silly to think this way, but some learners will “cut corners” if given the opportunity, so putting them on guard to begin with is a good way to start. On the other hand, does the corporate university plan to become a cost center and charge for training or no shows? If so, what are the rates for this going to be and how will you determine the rate for each course offering? Consider how far in advance a learner needs to cancel his or her course registration. If you’ve set class minimums, you may need to consider a timeline policy to avoid engaging instructors when there are too few learners. In relation to grades, is the university going to determine a passing score for courses, such as 80%, or will courses be offered on a pass-fail or attend-did not attend basis? And also keep in mind that any new hire offerings may need to fall not only under the university but also human resources if participants have to pass to keep their jobs.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 17, 2010 NO COMMENTS
The worst thing you can do when setting up a corporate university is to get it rolled out and then find that you have too much or too little staff. In today’s economic climate, you’re probably leaning toward having too little staff, but regardless of whether you can hire one person or ten you’ll need to plan carefully. Let’s examine best practices related to staffing your corporate university.
First, examine your current staffing model in relation to the current training offerings and organizational needs. Is it working? For example, how much time are instructors spending in the classroom versus the “ideal”? Do you have online courses sitting on a shelf waiting to be developed? Who is developing classroom training, if at all? Is the current staff overworked or pulled in numerous directions to the point that they are not accomplishing much of anything? If you could staff to your ideal in the current department and climate, what would that staff look like? Although it’s fun to create wish list for staffing, you’ll need to maintain your realism, as well.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 10, 2010 NO COMMENTS
If you’re ready to build your corporate university, one of the next best practices revolves around creating sponsors, obtaining buy-in, and building a marketing plan. This is an important best practice, as a corporate university with no traction is basically going to be a training department in an ivory tower. The idea here is to get people involved, get them talking, and get them excited about what the corporate university will have to offer. And you can do all of this with a well-planned marketing campaign.
The first step is to create sponsors, or the people who will drive the corporate university’s public face. It’s understood that your Learning and Development department will be a major sponsor, but we are talking about people outside of L&D. This group of sponsors can be your stakeholders, learners, and executives, and preferably a mix of all of these groups. But how do you “create” sponsorship? Show each group how the corporate university will benefit their departments, the organization, and their careers. Tailor this message based on the group you are courting. For example, career benefits are perfect talking points for learners, because the discussion starts on a personal level. When you line up sponsors who will “talk up” the university, you’ll see how the news catches on.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 3, 2010 NO COMMENTS
Building out a corporate university may be one of the most daunting tasks a Learning and Development department faces. Creating the university is more than creating a training department – it involves the entire organization, its future, and even its perceptions of training and development. There are several best practices that you can follow in order to set up your corporate university effectively. This doesn’t mean that you have to follow each best practice, but use and modify them based on your organization and its needs. The first best practice is consistent and constant assessment and analysis.
One of the first assessments you’ll want to make is the need for a corporate university. Some Learning and Development departments are simply instructed to build a university, and if that’s the case you won’t need to assess this step. But if not, the idea to keep in mind is that you don’t want to create a corporate university for its own sake. Determine if the organization has various departments that need curriculum paths and courses just for those areas. In addition, you’ll want to discover if cross-training and succession planning are part of the organization’s future. Even more importantly, is the organization looking for new ways to retain employees, especially by enticing them to become “mobile” within the organization’s structure? If your organization fits this description, you may be a prime target for a corporate university.