What’s driving the interest in a corporate university or center of excellence model?
Consider these definitions:
- Corporate University: An educational entity inside an organization. It is a strategic tool to conduct individual and group learning activities in service of organizational goals.
- Center of Excellence: A team, a shared facility or an entity that provides leadership, best practices, research, support and/or training for a focus area.
Most closely aligned with the centralized model, a corporate university often lives under the L&D umbrella, though this is not always the case. In contrast, a Center of Excellence—another centralized approach—often resides in a technical department such as R&D or IT.
What can these models do that’s not easily achieved with decentralized and federated models? Training Industry and DevelopIntelligence recently co-hosted a webinar to explore the survey results and this question in particular.
Here are the pain points.
During the webinar, participants shared challenges they are facing with their current technical training approach. Of note, the majority of comments came from people who use decentralized or federated models today. Here’s what they shared:
DRAWBACKS OF DECENTRALIZED TRAINING
- Lack of uniform standards across groups
- Differences in training approaches and formats
- Uneven quality of training
- Duplication of efforts
- Inefficient contracting (four versions of the same course from four different providers)
“We don’t usually know what the other training teams are up to,” reported one attendee. “Sometimes, we end up duplicating work on certain projects because of that lack of awareness.”
Another noted, “When moving from ILT to video due to COVID, it was like the Wild West with no standards.”
DRAWBACKS OF FEDERATED TRAINING
- Inconsistency in standards
- Very different levels of quality in learning solutions
- Lack of clarity regarding who leads generic skills training
- Conflicting or different messages in the training
- Duplication of solutions
- Difficulty tracking the various training initiatives in a central LMS
One participant said, “It’s hard to stay plugged into all the various departments that might be launching new processes or products.” Some of these could benefit from “our assistance with design and delivery, so they don’t go ‘rogue’ and do something on their own that might not be the most effective.”
When the pandemic hit, the Federated model experienced an added challenge. “We have several internal departments/practices that typically lead their own training. However, when moving virtually, each struggled to virtualize their content,” explained one attendee. “They came to our HR team for assistance. This has created an overload of work and a backlog of projects.”
Those using or considering a Corporate University model described challenges, too. One attendee wrote, “Tech training changes so fast that keeping up is nearly impossible. The shelf life is short. You have to weigh the time required to develop content versus the lifecycle of that content.” This begs the question, “Who updates the curriculum and how?” And this leads to a broader discussion. Departments within an organization often disagree about who should own the learning programs for software developers and IT professionals.
Stakeholders have mixed opinions about the best place to house technical training.
Should it live in a department that specializes in adult learning and instructional design? Or, is it best to house it with technical subject matter experts in R&D and IT, relying on them to create and teach curriculum? The answers to these questions influence the training delivery model companies select.
The majority of the 280 survey respondents lean toward housing technical training outside L&D.
WHO SHOULD OWN TECHNICAL TRAINING?