Kendle International Inc., a provider of clinical research and development services for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, employs nearly 1,600 associates worldwide. Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, Kendle has conducted trials and provided services in more than 60 countries.
With a strong commitment to educating its associates, Kendle has offered formal training since 1989, when it developed an internal education program for its employees. In 1997, Kendle founded Kendle College, the first corporate university in the CRO industry to serve both associates and customers. And in early 2000, Kendle started working on moving its training to an e-learning format. According to Sherry Gevedon, Ph.D., director of global training and development for Kendle, the main challenge at the time the company was implementing its new training program was the fact that there were few benchmark partners and limited white papers and other information on e-learning.
“When we began working in February or March of 2000, there wasn’t a comprehensive report on learning management systems and e-learning,” said Gevedon. “So there was very little information, and we were one of three companies that we know of that were looking to do this.”
In July 2000, Kendle began transforming its traditional classroom-based training to e-learning. Kendle wanted to offer an e-learning environment that was available 24×7. The company wanted to be able to quickly develop and deliver project-specific and company-specific content. In addition, Kendle wanted to provide a competency-based model that was linked to employee performance goals. In May 2001, eKendle College was launched.
Kendle’s eKendle College is based on an internally hosted IT infrastructure and strategic partnerships with Saba, which provides the learning management system; Skillsoft, which provides professional and business courses; NETg, which provides information technology and computer courses; Centra, which offers live training over the Internet, and Macromedia Authorware, which allows for customized course development.
Through eKendle College, Kendle associates in 18 locations around the world have access to more than 300 courses, including live clinical training conducted over the Internet, 125 online soft-skill courses and 45 computer and IT courses. With virtual classrooms, Web conferencing, e-investigator meetings, professional, business, PC, IT, pharmaceutical and biotech courses, custom Web-based course development and e-learning consulting, eKendle College provides innovative offerings for both the company’s associates as well as its customers. For example, through eKendle College, customers can access continuing medical education for physicians.
eKendle College has seen a 50 percent associate enrollment and has reduced costs by 50 percent over instructor-led training. In addition, Kendle has seen a 75 percent reduction in travel expenses, while delivering 300 percent more course offerings.
“The biggest benefit is that we’ve been able to achieve 24×7 global access,” said Gevedon, “and a secondary benefit is that we were able to eliminate travel costs associated with training. And of course, the other major benefit is that we’re able to deliver content very quickly in a just-in-time environment.”
eKendle College is now developing individualized training for its associates. The team is working on competency-based models that reflect the knowledge and skills needed for each job role within the company.
“Moving forward,” said Gevedon, “we’re going to leverage the e-learning infrastructure that we’ve built to continue to grow Kendle as a learning organization.”