According to Matt Cohen, director of learning strategy and operations for PTC University, the purpose of learning at PTC is to increase the capabilities and performance levels of individual employees and thus, the entire organization. “Hopefully, the end result of it is a supportive learning culture for all of PTC,” he said.
Cohen said that the current economy is causing numerous challenges for PTC’s learning organization. For one thing, he said, learning initiatives must have a proven value. “Especially in these times, we have to be able to tie it back, that somehow development is tied into revenue,” he said. To do that, Cohen said that he and his colleagues have to help the organization’s leadership understand that development is a key component of revenue generation.
A second challenge that is exacerbated by the economy is the lack of funds for learning initiatives. “There’s not much room for growth, so you’ve got to do what you can with the resources that you have,” said Cohen.
In May 2002, PTC’s sales department moved to a blended learning program, using e-learning and classroom events that are managed with Saba’s HCDM Suite. “We decided we needed a learning management system because we were spending an inordinate amount of money, and we really had no idea where it was being spent, and as far as those siloed organizations go, we had no way of sharing it,” said Cohen.
As PTC has moved toward a blended learning strategy that is more heavily dependent on distance learning, Cohen said it has been important to get management involved in order to ensure that there is a proper environment for employees to learn. “If we’re telling people they can learn at their desk, the manager’s got to buy into that notion and keep away distractions,” he said. PTC has instituted some policies to address this challenge, establishing separate areas for learning where necessary. “You don’t want the employees to see this as ‘Develop, but develop on your own time,’” said Cohen.
Moving to the blended learning strategy and implementing the LMS has helped PTC reduce duplication of courses and content, reducing the cost to develop and deliver learning. “We started out with eight or nine training organizations and through Saba and some other infrastructure, we’ve been able to create an environment in which we share some of those learning assets,” said Cohen. “We’re trying to make sure that since we’re a collaborative software company, that we actually collaborate when it comes to training.”
Cohen explained that implementing the LMS has driven the company and its separate training organizations to reevaluate the way training is delivered across the organization. “It’s not often that technology can be a change agent for you, but Saba really has played that role for us,” he said.
Cohen added that PTC has really seen its distance learning strategy take off. “Whereas before only sales had a small group that was doing Web-based training or distance learning, now the entire company has shifted its mindset, and we have a platform that enables us to do that,” said Cohen.
Moving forward, PTC has planned two major learning initiatives: competency profiling and customer education. While PTC has delivered customer education in the past, it is now reworking its programs to accommodate an online catalog, distance learning and Web-based training.
PTC has also rolled out pilot competency profiling programs for its sales and software solutions groups. “In terms of competency profiling, we have a goal of every job type within PTC having an associated profile and to drive development plans off of identified gaps within those competency profiles,” said Cohen. PTC hopes to unveil this program to the entire internal audience within the fiscal year.