Honeywell, a conglomerate of the 1999 merger of Honeywell Inc. and AlliedSignal, had a twofold dilemma: bringing staff members to one location for in-person training was a costly venture, and engineers found it difficult to take even two to three days out of the week for training purposes. In an effort to mitigate costs but maintain training quality, Honeywell turned to Web conferencing for communicating and training its employees.
As recently as five years ago, a company such as Honeywell would take up to five months to train its employees on a new product. But due to the competitive landscape and the introduction of new technologies, the company has found that it doesn’t have that luxury anymore. When five months roll around, the company should already have the next rev of the product ready to roll out.
A previous training approach involved transporting an expert in the field to various offices to educate the employees on new products. “Another approach consisted of ‘on-the-job’ training, which meant taking several employees and sending them to a central office for hands-on instruction with the specialized expert,” said John Gillespi, manager of ACS global training services, Honeywell. “Though the in-person meetings were an effective form of training, the end result was a costly and time-consuming investment. The expert would spend more time training employees than completing valuable work and/or the trainees would have to travel around the globe depending on where the expert was stationed.”
The ACS division was quick to jump on the Web conferencing bandwagon when Honeywell corporate adopted the PlaceWare solution in early January 2002. The Web conferencing solution immediately allowed Honeywell to utilize its instructors more efficiently. By offering a Web conference class, an expert could stay in a remote location and conduct the training exercise with all of Honeywell’s employees at once. Employees were not forced to travel to centralized offices, but could complete their training from their own computers. If an employee was unable to attend a live training session, he or she would have the option of logging on later to watch the taped training session.
“Using PlaceWare’s Conference Center, each division at Honeywell also developed their own training portals sites,” said Lee Allen, the manager of e-business operations who brought PlaceWare to Honeywell. “Each group indicated which seminars would take place in an upcoming time period, and as a result, staff members were able to identify which training seminars were most important.”
The ACS division alone has seen the number of classes quadruple as more employees find they have time to attend one-hour training seminars. And rather than take every expert out of the field for training purposes, the division uses only five instructors to conduct training sessions. Within a six-month period, the instructors conducted more than 240 seminars.
The end result has been a more effective use of the company’s time and money. Web conferencing has eliminated the majority of in-person training once required. Honeywell as a whole has seen an even bigger benefit for online training. “By reducing the amount of flights, hotel stays and other ‘hard cost’ travel expenditures, we have documented savings of over $10 million in just six months,” Gillespi said.
Dustin Grosse is the vice president of worldwide marketing and strategy for PlaceWare. Previously, he has held similar positions at Voxeo Corp., OnFiber Communications and Covad Communications.