CIC’s 10 education and training associates, based in Fairfield, Ohio, serve 2,500 headquarters associates and 1,000 field associates who work from home-based offices across the United States. These headquarters and field associates include claims adjusters, sales and marketing representatives, machinery and equipment engineers, loss control representatives and field auditors. From 1999 through 2003, CIC increased the number of courses it offers its associates by 300 percent without adding to its training staff. Course topics include management and leadership, insurance-specific topics and company policies and procedures.
“Education is a high priority for our company,” said Mark DesJardins, CIC vice president and director of education and training. “We develop professional people from within and help them build careers. That strategic advantage makes our company more competitive and better able to serve our customers.”
As CIC rolled out new products and services, its training department scrambled to ensure that the company’s field personnel completed government-mandated training requirements as well as instruction associated with the company’s insurance products. While CIC’s human resource system could store some class information, the software could not deploy and automatically track Web-based courses.
“The size of our training staff wasn’t increasing, but our workload was,” said DesJardins. “So we wanted a system that would cut costs, automate an array of training processes we had in place and boost our ability to offer top-notch courses to our associates.”
Before selecting a new system, CIC used a mix of computer spreadsheets, faxes, phone calls and e-mails to register employees for training, coordinate locations for classes and verify that training had taken place. By all accounts, the process in place wouldn’t grow with CIC’s needs. So the company explored other options.
In 2001, the company bought Pathlore Software Corp.’s learning management system (LMS), which would deliver, track and report on training distributed over the Internet. “For the price, Pathlore offered the best value and functions of the education management software we reviewed,” DesJardins explained. “The fact that the firm was profitable with a good reputation was a selling point, too.”
CIC now offers its employees 150 courses, 90 of which are delivered online. According to DesJardins, delivering, tracking and reporting on training at CIC is “an almost paperless process.” With the LMS in place, DesJardins said CIC has been able to cut the duration of some classes from 12 hours to eight. He noted that this often eliminates an extra day of travel expenses for field personnel.
For example, by rolling out a course on commercial general liability (CGL) policy to employees via the LMS, CIC saved more than $100,000. Indeed, making the CGL program an e-learning course cut 50 percent off the cost of delivering this training.
And that’s not all. Another course CIC teaches deals with homeowner policies. DesJardins said that CIC uses the LMS to teach underwriters the basics about a homeowner policy as well as the property and liability coverage for a home. The online instruction for this course consists of a scenario in which a young couple is buying a house. The LMS takes an underwriter through each step of the process, testing along the way.
“With Pathlore LMS, we can deliver training online to employees prior to the date they arrive for classroom instruction,” DesJardins said. “This gives classroom instructors a way to focus on more complex discussions, while condensing training.”
According to DesJardins, the 45-minute online course taught via the LMS used to take up to four hours in the classroom. By using the LMS to teach underwriters the basics about, say, homeowner liability coverage, CIC can spend classroom time discussing how to better apply what its employees learn.
Putting the homeowner course online has reduced class time by up to half a day. DesJardins added, “That time can be used to reinforce concepts or send people back to the field sooner.”
Bill D’Amico is vice president of worldwide sales and services at Pathlore Software Corp. Bill is a veteran of the software industry with experience in sales management and the design and implementation of information systems. Bill’s teams, based in Europe, North America and the Pacific Rim, sell and implement the company’s flagship enterprise software product: the Pathlore learning-management system (LMS) suite.