When people talk about eLearning, it is usually in the context of online courses at universities or corporate training programs for internal employees. It’s easy to overlook learning scenarios for manufacturing organizations that could benefit from eLearning programs, especially those that focus on learners outside the organization. This article will showcase one such innovative example conceived and implemented by Madico, Inc., based in Woburn, Massachusetts.
Background on Madico, Inc.
As one of the world’s leading manufacturers of laminating and coating solutions, Madico offers a wide range of highly engineered multilayer films for energy, safety, security, and architectural uses. From needs analysis through product specification, installation, and service, Madico is committed to securing a strong return on investment for its customers. Madico relies on third-party dealers to competently perform this range of functions with its end-users – such as architectural firms, general contractors, and building managers. Therefore, the success of Madico’s business is dependent upon the transfer of accurate and comprehensive product knowledge to its dealers. This is not an uncommon situation for manufacturers who tend to focus on honing their process and materials while relying on external entities to sell, utilize, install, service, or incorporate their output into a range of applications.
Manufacturers and the Extended Enterprise
Manufacturers operate in a complex web of relationships. A manufacturer’s network might include its sources of raw materials, parts, and equipment and extend outward to other parties who in turn utilize the manufacturer’s specialty in a process, service, or product of their own. This collection of business relationships is referred to as a company’s extended enterprise. Each point of contact – between the manufacturer and the other parties who participate in its economic output – is a node of information exchange. Often, the quality of this information transfer directly relates to the quality of the resulting business relationship and its outcome.
Madico’s Traditional Training of Its Extended Enterprise
A key constituency of Madico’s extended enterprise is the hundreds of dealers located around the world who sell and install Madico’s films. Historically, Madico educated its dealers via face-to-face meetings at dealer locations once or twice per year. Some of the problems that emerged from this mode of training included the following:
- Dealers would need to focus their learning efforts into the inadequate timeframe of the annual or semi-annual Madico visit.
- After the two-day training event, dealers would request additional training time. Madico could not accommodate these requests due to the full and demanding training schedule.
- Madico would make a significant investment in the annual dealer visit and then find that many dealer employees would not be able attend due to illness or other commitments. This resulted in a lower training impact per dollar spent.
- Madico product information would change more frequently than the training visits. This meant that dealers might be working with outdated information.
- New dealers would require an even greater investment of training time and effort. These needs would tie up valuable Madico staff members whose expertise is in high demand.
Madico’s efforts to educate hundreds of dealers with a small staff of experts delivering face-to-face training was costly and not meeting the full scope of needs for either Madico or its dealers.
Madico’s New Training Model: Madico University
As a result of its training challenges, Madico developed a plan to create Madico University. Early in the process, they decided it would be beneficial to work with nSight, Inc., an eLearning vendor. Working with an external vendor allowed Madico subject experts to focus on their areas of expertise while the vendor provided instructional design and technical implementation.
Madico University is an online learning program designed to provide dealers with convenient, self-paced learning modules available at any time from any location. Not only will Madico University deliver information about Madico and its products, but it will go beyond the scope of traditional training to help dealers improve their sales process and build a profitable business.
Madico University’s curriculum includes courses about Madico’s industry leadership, product solutions, sales and service improvement, and business development. Table 1 provides a full list of courses slated for release in Madico University.
|Madico University Course||Business Value|
|Madico University Overview||Provides users with an orientation to Madico University.|
|Madico’s True north, 6 Sigma, and Lean Manufacturing||Explains how Madico’s engineering excellence has resulted in best-of-class products and industry leadership.|
|Energy Service Company (ESCO) –Industry Affiliations and Commercial Selling Overview||Demonstrates how to use ESCO to develop new business and funding opportunities.|
|LEED – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design||Describes how to use LEED to develop new business opportunities.|
|Warranty Process||Discusses how to use the warranty process to meet customer needs quickly and efficiently.|
|Optics/Window 5 Software||Provides training on how to use state-of-the-art software tools during the sales and product specification process to analyze potential energy savings for customers.|
|Glass and Glazing: Film Basics||Teaches the basics of window film applications.|
|Installation of Film||Delivers practical knowledge and skills needed to handle, install, and service advanced films.|
|Marketing and Selling||Describes ways to find and win business for Madico products.|
|Upcoming Courses||Summarizes the content of future courses.|
This roster of courses meets Madico’s information transfer needs in the context of its dealer relationships by providing:
- Product information in a timely, clear, compelling, and digestible format
- Process information that positively impacts the relationship between Madico’s dealers and its customers
- Business development information that motivates dealers to improve their business practices
The comprehensive education provided via Madico University strengthens the distribution of Madico’s products by helping dealers meet their own internal business goals.
The Benefits of Online Learning for Madico and Its Dealers