Resources from the episode:
Transcript of the interview:
Hi everyone, and welcome back to the Learning Elevated podcast brought to you by Docebo – the show where we help you elevate your learning efforts and move up in the world of enterprise learning and development. As always guiding you on your journey up the tower will be your elevator operators: myself, Kerri Moore and my co-host…
Rob Ayre. Now each week as you know, we stop off at a new floor and today we’re getting off on the eighth floor, which we’ve titled The Architects Office.
So the reason that we kind of call this for that is because we’re gonna talk all about implementation today. And just like any good architect, that lays out their plans before they start to build, so too when you’re implementing a new learning platform or new piece of technology for your learning program, you should lay it out in the same way that an architect does.
Clutching its straws but we’ll stick to the theme.
Yeah. And… and, you know, speaking of staying consistent as always, we’re going to go into a quick little article here. So, the article that we focused on for today’s from the Harvard Business Review. And it’s an interesting one that I’ve sort of out to the table here and I think has really great implications for implementation. So it’s called Bring Product Thinking to Non-Product Teams. And what I really liked about this article, it actually goes on specifically focusing on LMS implementation. But what it asks teams to do is to think about their projects in the way that our product team would think about a project.
So one of the things that they do that I thought was kind of cool is they say, okay, you’re gonna have customers. So if you’re launching a new LMS or learning platform to an audience, that audience is your customer. So regardless if they are actually literal customers or if they are, you know, an internal audience, those people are going to be your customers.
And so what’s required of the learning team is to think about how am I going about creating the best experience possible and the best overall product for them to take their learning?
Exactly. I think that’s something that we can often forget about. We can be super focused on the goals that we have as a learning department and maybe forget about, you know, the engagement of our learners and about what they’re actually getting out of it and whether they’re going to go to the platform on their own because they just enjoy the experience of it or whether we’re gonna have to force them, you know, it’s something that the different design. I love this mindset shift because it really, as you said, puts the learners in focus and allows you to think like them instead of thinking from a more like business overview, I suppose. It makes it more human.
Yeah, it makes a lot more human. And what the article kinda goes into a little bit of detail on is sort of shift your thinking during implementation from a purely deployment standpoint and thinking about it from a positive change. So, you know, one of the quotes that I pulled out from the article that I thought was good was that the measure of success for that problem, whatever that problem might be, it’s not the deployment of a product but instead a measurable positive change in the behavior of those customers.
So, in this case, you’re learning the audience. In other words, what you should be working towards is outcomes not output. And so when we think about this under the framework of implementing a new LMS, you shouldn’t just stop by thinking okay, how do I make sure that, you know, all the API’s are connected or that with Docebo, all of your pages or design or that the instructional design, the actual sort of, you know, process within which the learners will take the courses is there.
But is there a why, right? So what is the actual sort of positive outcome that they’re going to be going with? And I thought that… that was sort of a really interesting and an important thing to think about when you are going about implementation because you really are launching a new product to your company or to your audience. And so trying to think about whether is that you want to see down the road and what that sort of positive change that you wanna see within your organization can kinda help to guide you to make sure that you’re implementing in the right way.
Absolutely. And I guess mindset shift is a super important thing and sending that lots of teams you consider.
Because, yeah, then you’re really getting the whole picture. But as always, this one can be found on our website as well. So check that out at www.docebo.com/podcast where you can find all of the different resources that we speak about on the show.
But I feel like we’re getting off for the next floor. So it might be time to introduce our guest.
Yeah, absolutely. So this is a really great little interview that we had here. This is with one of our customers, GAF. Now they are a roofing manufacturing company. And in terms of their training, they provide training to a whole wide range of… of an extended enterprise situation. So they provide training on their products to some of the big box stores. They also provide the training too, independent consultants and contractors. And so joining us today is going to be Eric Peterson who’s the Head of Learning Excellence and Technology at GAF as well as Jay Taylor and he’s an Instructional Designer and what they’re gonna do is they’re gonna walk us through a little bit about how they went and had a successful implementation. And, you know, Kerri, one of the things that I found really interesting during this interview and they go into detail is how their timelines were sped up, do to the crisis of COVID-19, you know, this is an area that I think a lot of teams out there have seen significant change in with the team over at GAF, they actually had to speed up some of their internal marketing and their internal enablement timelines because look, people wanted the training. So I’m gonna throw it over to Eric and Jay now. Hope you enjoy the interview and we’ll chat after.
Welcome back, everybody. Excited to have this interview today, guys. Welcome to the podcast. Can we start just having a quick introduction from yourselves?
Hi, my name’s Eric Peterson. I am the manager of Learning Excellence and Technology with GAF. So, you know, my primary leaning is around, you know, providing the organization with technology around learning, but kind of have my hands on a little bit of the entire process of learning delivery and sort of have, you know, making sure our blended approach is sort of in sync with one another. So… that’s… that’s… that’s pretty much sums it.
And my name is Jay, I’m an instructional designer. So I… I focus mostly on the content but I am also very involved in the… the delivery and the User Experience side too.
Very cool. So guys today, we’re going to be focusing a lot on implementation of a new learning platform.
And… and really that’s sort of re-development of… of a learning strategy. So I want to kind of get things started off relatively simply and ask you guys, you know, how did you determine you had a need for a new system?
Yeah. I mean, I think there was, you know, there, there was the user side and there was the Admin side and coming in, or our system, while the system we had in place had a good reputation. It’s a… it’s a strong system in some ways. It just, it wasn’t doing either properly. You know, I found that, you know, for an end user to go in, it just seemed very complicated to find what they’re looking for and sort of just a little, you know, maybe a little too robust in a way just… just not… not logical.
And then on the back end, I just found, you know, the way to deploy things, the way to… to find how to run reports and how to build pages was… was just not intuitive for my liking. And I just, I believe in this day and age, you know, you shouldn’t have to know HTML programming to build a page in a, in an LMS and really be more of a simpler interface.
And I think the thing that Jay has also leveraged to his advantage, I give Jay and Glen a lot of credit on the team because they took that on. But to me, just too complicated, I think we… we wanted to, we wanted a more straightforward… system that… that was really going to meet those needs.
So Jay, as… as an Instructional Designer, when you guys are sort of… sort of determining, okay, we have some needs that aren’t being met, what… what were your top needs? You know, what… what was, what would your ideal solution need to have?
I think that to echo Eric’s point, I needed something that on the back end enabled us as the creators to be able to easily push content to the right audiences.
And then on the… on the flip side, we wanted… we wanted a really seamless engaging User Experience. You know, that things are changing so fast in the consumer technological world that we’re… we’re… we’re a little bit spoiled. And I… I think if the LMS doesn’t have a consumer focused mindset, which I think Docebo does –
I think… I think the way Docebo’s built, it comes across as an engaging inviting User Experience, you know, provided you… you… you set it up well. So I… I was looking for something that was gonna look and feel fresh and modern and appeal to their sensibilities, but also be a pretty quick to, you know, pretty… pretty quick to work on the back end. And I would say Docebo so far has been both of those.
Right. So, so once you guys did pick your… your sort of your ideal solution and in this case, Docebo, how did you go about designing your sort of implementation process and strategy internally?
Well, you know, it’s… it’s interesting. I mean me the implementation strategy at least from a… from a… from a timing standpoint and… and having to meet markers and… and all that we’re… we’re sort of challenging and, you know, a lot of times when you’re transitioning from one system to another, you’ll be able to find a sort of have a… a buffer. So, in terms of, you know, if we need to put a month extension out or if we needed to work with us, but, you know, the reality was we were going to be system-less if we did not hit, you know, the roll out by a particular date.
So, you know, part of our strategy was just really putting our stake in the ground on that day and really committing to, you know, getting into the system using the learning tools that Docebo provided to get very familiar with all the things that we… we need to do in the system and really syncing up as a team to divide and conquer and leverage our strengths across the board.
So my role is a little bit more, you know, setting expectations throughout the organization. Whereas as Jay and Glen, you know, the team of the three of us, Jay and Glen really just kinda got into the system, use their strengths again, Jay, with more of a design eye and… and helping lay out the vision and the… the User Experience for the system while Glen working on, you know, all the back end pieces on reporting and Notifications and posting courses, and everything else in between. So really it was just a matter of we, we’ve got a date we’ve gotta drive against and we knew through the whole process that a comfort level with some table, so tables, end user or actually back end User Experience for us admins was… was.. We were banking on it being a pleasant one, and it really was.
Interesting. So, Jay, when it comes to this sort of the design elements, when you’re going about, you know, reconsidering the way that it is going to be laid out and… and… and sort of functional. and that whole experience, can you kind of walk me through your… your thought process and… and the sort of the processes that you… you kind of walkthrough as that was sort of part of your responsibilities there?
Yeah. So one thing we do that some… some of your clients may not do much at all. Some of them do a lot is we… we are very heavy into extended enterprise learning, you know, in addition to providing a platform that would serve GAF, we also serve GAF sister companies within the same organization. I joke that… if… if our… if our parent company was the Soviet Union, where Russia. So it’s we… we… we kind of serve as the defacto learning team for more companies than just ourselves. So that alone is a pretty big variety of users. But in addition to that, we also commit to training our distributors channel partners.
And this year we opened it up to contractors because we are a roofing manufacturer. So each one of those really there’s a lot of overlap in the content, but they really were very distinct use cases. And so we… we made really heavy use of multi-domain from the beginning.
So we’re really what it came to from, to answer your questions, we… we tried to think about what… what are the different kinds of audiences out there? What do they need? And how do we make sure that they’re getting what they need? Not getting what… what they don’t need?
So we… we made heavy use of content segmentation from the very beginning. We really put a lot of time into creating our categories and our catalogs because there is so much shared content. And then from that, from after… after we did that, we really built out kind of a number of different, you know, homepage templates for the various audiences and then started testing and kind of refining them.
So right now, I’d say we’ve probably got three to four different iterations of how we can present our system depending on the Audience. And I… I would say it’s… it’s been remarkably easy to do that given how much we stretch the system already.
Well you know, and Rob just to go back to sort of have your… your question of before about an implementation strategy around that as well. While it’s not probably unique that companies have to, you know, do an implementation plan based on company priority. I think to Jay’s point, we found that the impacts of certain areas of our business actually lends to itself to deploy the site to more of our external… external Audience that it was for our employees. So I’m guessing you know, a lot of companies, would roll it out to their employees, you know, in… in the form of, you know, just… just content and maybe compliance courses and other things like that to kinda give it a test drive and then they kinda go out to a broader audiences. But we kind of had a reverse scenario, a large appetite for one of our large partners. I mean, it was Lowe’s, you know, a major corporation and they were hungry for information on GAF roofing products. So that… that became the first driver to go out with our… our first, you know, our first page with them. And it was… it was successful again, I think in part to the hard work that was put it in the creativity and vision, but also just the… the… the way Docebo allowed us to logically do we needed to do in a short period of time.
So, I’m curious on that. And it kinda of this questions stream itself through both with Jay was saying and yourself, Eric. But how did you guys go about determining what is, you know, what is success, what… what sort of… of ideas or… or… or structures and methodologies did you put in place to say, you know, if you take a Lowe’s as an example that, you know, this is going to be our kind of our benchmark or your mark that says if we get to this point, it’ll be a success.
Yeah, I think, you know, in the learning world, there’s you know, there’s Kirkpatrick’s for, you know, buckets of… of measuring the success of the training. And I think he could kind of apply that here. We want to know that people like and we wanna… we wanna get the direct feedback that it’s applicable. We want to know that what people who are learning but they’re… they’re using on the job. But… but really then there’s… there’s metrics around. I mean, we are coming from a system where we did, you know, we did employee training like Jay said we have done, you know, we’ve reached out to our distributors to have a platform for them in the past.
So, you know, increased engagement with the site was important for us over time. We’d like to see double digit, higher double digit percentages and number of unique users, number of course completions, all of that. So, so those metrics are going to be in place for us and we have the baseline for that.
But again, it’s also about our ability to have a strong impact with other areas that will impact the organization. So the more of these, you know, multi-portal scenarios we can set up for people that purchase and use GAF products, you know, the more likely they are going to be more educated on it, which means they can sell to have it, which means the better for our business.
So, you know, we’re looking for ways to tie our influence through this platform, to develop customer loyalty and increase sales through it. I think that that’s gonna play out in our favor over the long run.
Right. Makes sense. You know, one of the things that comes up quite a bit when… when I… when I have conversations with folks about trying to bring on new systems that is… is sort of that data migration.
And I’m wondering, you know, either on your… your site Eric or even on the instructional decide Jay, when you’re… when you’re trying to design these things, what does that sort of?
What does that process look like for you guys for migration? And all that, was that, how does that kind of work for you?
Well, that, that’s a funny question. I… I kind of joke with Eric that we were fortunate that the… the old system was so cumbersome that I… I don’t feel like we ever really got the traction we needed with it.
So, to a certain extent, we really didn’t do a lot of migration at all, you know, in terms of legal sensitive records on the back end, we… we… we made sure those were secured, but we really built Docebo from the ground up without a lot of consideration for what was there before we… we ported a lot of training, you know, a lot of learning objects and courses over.
But there was also a lot of things that didn’t come over. A lot of things. I took the opportunity to freshen and then republish them to more modern standards. So… I think if we’d been in a situation where we had been using our old system as heavily as we are using Docebo now, we would have taken more advantage of straight data migration. But for all intents and purposes, it was a brand new watch.
Great. I mean, anything to… to make that whole situation a little bit easier, right? It’s take the winds when you can get them kind of.
But I was just gonna say that said, whatever we had to migrate over to was really no problem, you know?
Yeah, it was… it was very easy to.
Jay could probably peak to the experience fast but no, no real issues on that.
That’s great. So when, you know, especially in that sort of the… the multi domain situation, how… how important is it to have like a sort of a clarified significant go live date, you know, and… and what kinds of things did you guys have to do? And was there any kind of, you know, anecdotal moments that… that we’re sort of challenging or that kind of thing when it comes to actually setting that sort of from go live date?
Yeah. Well, like I said, I mean, the… the one option is to be system-less which nobody really wants to do. And again, that was more of our… our circumstance with… with working out extensions, but I kinda thrive under that notion, right? I mean, I like the idea that let’s here’s something that we have to build towards and we’re going to go with it. And the nice part was this, there’s been a buzz about Docebo coming that I think, you know, part of it has been a big ask from the organization and part of it has been our own, you know, sort of touting that this… this… this wonderful tool is coming that’s going to be able too enable us to do these great things to the point where we’ve had some overzealous sales folks on our team really kinda talking it up to the point where, you know, there were asks of us before perhaps maybe I wanted it to be ready, but it made us be ready and it was, you know, and, you know, again, thanks to the great work of… of Jay and Glen we were able to deploy one of those… those open portal pages within probably a month and change a month and a few weeks of really just getting our hands into the system and since then. I mean, we’re still, you know, we’re still only a couple of few months into having the system in place and we’re providing a lot of solutions that are, you know, that they may… they may not be hard deadlines per say, but the expectation from the business after they’ve seen what we can do is coming so great that, you know, we’re… we’re having to manage our priorities accordingly but it’s given us a lot of juice. It’s given us a lot of excitement, a lot of good exposure. And the nice part is it’s… it’s doing what we’ve intended it to do from day one, right? I agree with that.
Yeah… one big philosophy at GAF, the company kind have embraced more agile methods of… of work. I mean, there’s… there’s literally a scrum coaches and that’s not to say that the company is completely organized only on the scrum… you know, only in scrum arrangements but there’s… there’s a pretty decent support for a culture of MVP and get… get whatever you’re working on into the hands of those are going to be using it sooner.
So to… to echo what Eric said, we… we did have a couple of hard deadlines. I mean, for example, for on the employees side, our… our old LMS turned off on February 28th and we needed to have the new one turned on… on March 1st and we had that, but it was a very much, it was a soft launch. We didn’t… we didn’t publicize it and there’s… there’s been a, there’s been a lot of instances like that with… with opening up different portals of different pages.
That’s… that’s why we, you know, we… we would choose specific partners to launch with, you know, like Lowe’s that they were our first launch partners. That was, it was a simple page.
It was a good test case. So there, there hasn’t been a whole lot of really big go live dates, you know, in terms of the whole system, it’s just been like we would turn on a page at a time for a specific Audience or… or roll out a new feature and each one of those is kind of a mini go live, right? I mean, actually, you know, we… we really launched the platform internally once everybody got sent home because of COVID, we were… we were kind of preparing for a more formal launch the beginning of April. And then all of a sudden everybody was home… and we… we got the word, hey, let’s… let’s… let’s get this going. So even though it was already technically launched, we really haven’t formally launched yet. And that… that kind of spurred us to double down on… on getting the content squared away and… and really getting it to a place where somebody could go in there and start learning.
That kind of works into one of those areas that I’m obviously really interested in just being that I’m a… I’m a marketing professional. I’m always curious about the formal methods that people put in place to actually get the word out there. I mean, in this situation significantly different than I think business as usual, right? So, so you had to kind of deal with something or a global situation that kind of pushed it a little bit further. But what… what type of, you know, strategies have you put in place for the… for the whole sort of internal marketing, and even external marketing just for the awareness?
We, we have, I’d say almost like a triple pronged approach. You know, we… we have really good relationships with, you know, the rest of Talent management and the rest. And we are part of the HR department. On the internal side. We… we like to go through the back channels of going through the HR business partners and going through the managers too, so that we can… we can make sure the message can come that way where somebody… somebody is potentially getting it from their superior. In addition to that, we… we have, you know, internal social networks at the company that we leverage pretty efficiently. And then very sparingly we’ll… we’ll also do company wide emails in consultation with the communications team. So it’s kinda like I’d say those three three pronged approach to… to promotion, Eric, I don’t know if you have anything else.
Yeah. I mean, the one, you know, what she was saying about how, you know, our, you know, some of our… our… our broader or larger announcement plans where, you know, we’ve… we’ve implemented in the past year, a mechanism in the company called Talent Talks which is, you know, very… very similar to a Tedtalk concept where we’re interviewing people would short videos about, you know, from who they are and what they doing, what their departments as… as a function to, you know, specific teachable concepts of two two three minutes. And, you know, as part of the Talent Talks, we had an offshoot of that which was the speaker series where we were trying to bring in folks who were industry wide professionals and then had some fame in that area in some capacity. So, as a, for instance, we were going to have somebody come in early April. He was good. We… we also as an organization launched a new career framework to give people more clearly defined path through their… their career at GAF. And his message was going to be about taking control of your career. So, while he was gonna do a speech for the entire organization, live streamed across the country, we were gonna borrow and so our program, but we were going to borrow the first, you know, seven to 10 minutes upfront to sort of introduce what we are doing to help support them with that. And that was going to be our formal introduction to the new platform and all the content we would have on there to… to support that notion. So we weren’t going for a very high profile approach to that. And like Jay said, it kind of turned into, you know, we’re all home. And now all of a sudden people want to, you know, engage with learning in a whole different way than before and we had to really kind of put some things together again very, you know, so table made it very easy for us to do. And I think we succeeded in doing that. It just wasn’t part of the original road.
And what kind of, what kind of impact are you seeing in terms of learning? Like are there any sort of trends that you’ve noticed? Are people more likely to do sort of self discovery of content? Is it more sort of professional development? Is there anything kind of interesting that you’re seeing on the impact that working from home and… and COVID has had and the sort of the overall learning program?
Yeah. I think, I do think a little bit of everything I find people have been asking for things that, you know, we’re not accustomed to being asked for. And again, some of that can be, you know, COVID specific and, you know, just techniques to… to work remotely and to be engaged with your teams, but some of it is really more applicable to… to their… to their work life and, you know, their job and what they can do, you know, to sell better even though they’re remote, right? So, so part of what we’re doing is we’re… we’re putting content on the pages that support that. But we’re also able to leverage the system to just help other departments create their own Zoom or… or Google Meets through the system so that we can kind of really have a better apparatus to collect how many people are engaging in the… in the content and, you know, of course deploying surveys from there. So we can really kind of make sure things are centralized. And instead of having different departments, you know, doing a lot of one off, you know, send the link here. Whoever shows up. We don’t know how many people we got it’s. Kinda it’s become very important for us to centralize this data through the system to… to drive at all to one place. So we’ve been able to really start to get our arms around that for the company, which is which has helped underscore the value of the system in our function in general.
That’s tremendous. So.
This has been, this has been really great. I appreciate you having you guys on… on the podcast. I wanna finish off just with one one sort of quick final question. What’s been your biggest takeaway and sort of, what would you offer is your top recommendation for an organization who’s about to go through a similar implementation process or… or even just discovery of a… of a new system for themselves?
What do you think, Jay? What do.. you got something? I kinda got some but…
I have a toddler situation going down here.
I’ll take that one. You know, I just think honestly, it’s about, you know, it’s obviously about doing the right things for your organization and that is the process of asking the right questions. Of course, you know, making sure this means the company needs, but… but really just being rooted in what you want and sticking to your… your guns about it, right? So, we knew we had a system that like we had said in the beginning, we wanted a system that was user friendly, appealing, easy to use, complex but not complicated. And I’m very proud of the things that sort of, you know, follow through on because that… that was, those are things that are very important to us knowing what we wanted to do long term for our end users. So really just taking a lot of use cases from different parts of the business, asking them, hey, your customers, what… what experience do you want them to have as a learner or take all that information and do the proper work? So, you know, as companies to do demos just like you guys did for us. You guys, let us see the system. Let us play around with it. And it reaffirmed our idea that, you know, we’re getting into something that is really going to meet the needs that we want for our… our learning population.
Hey, how’s the… how’s the baby situation are you?
It’s okay. We had a, we had a nap wake up, but that’s… that’s okay. So I can… can, you asked me kind of my… my capstone question?
Yeah, absolutely. So, so just what, what’s your, sorry, your biggest takeaway and your top recommendation for an organization who’s kind of about to go through something similar and bringing on a new system?
I think my… my top recommendation, I echo what Eric said, find out who are your audiences? How… how do they need to access it? And, you know, pretty much what kind of experience do you want to have?
Right. Well, guys, thank you so much for joining me on the podcast today. I really appreciate it and… and… and best of luck and stay safe and healthy out there.
Cool. Thank you very much.
Thanks, Rob. I appreciate it. Yeah, thank you very much.
Thank you so much to Eric and Jay for being a part of the podcast today and to Rob for taking that interview over for us, it was such a fantastic call. I think you guys have such a good story.
Yeah, they really do. And… and, you know, what I really enjoyed was having sort of both of them on the pod gas and being able to chat with them both. It’s always… it’s always interesting. I find to talk to learning professionals that are coming at it from… from those two different angles. So, you know, I think Eric is really being able to speak to those sort of wider business goals in the… in the business objectives of implementing this. And then Jay, as it’s just so great to hear from the instructional design standpoint. So it’s like, well, you know, why are you putting certain pages in certain ways or content in certain places?
And… and how are you making it available? And, you know, was nice to… to have sort of an explanation of… of some of the things that they are doing to try to make this content in the platform a little bit more available given the current situations, you know, I’m sure… I’m sure that on their end and it certainly sounds like it… it made for a few more stressful moments but it sounds like they just totally took it in stride and we’re able to… to help to make it happen.
So, so it was all really great, you know, and… and I hope everybody listening was able to take a few tips as they are kind of going through their own implementation journeys. Erica, NJ, both had some really… really great insights for that. So, yeah, we thank you both so much for joining the podcast. And next week we kind of go down this road of… trying to help everybody to find the right solutions for their… for their various learning and enterprise problems.
We’re gonna be talking about content.
So I think this is a super important part of, you know, choosing the right thing for you. What kind of content is going to resonate the best with your learners? What kind of tools are you going to need in order to get that format to them? And so, yeah, super important one that we’re going to be discussing this time. And we’re over in Australia, learning a little bit about how they do it over there with Go1. We’ll see you there.
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