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The impact of e-learning on growing IT companies

After the large corporations, such as Microsoft and IBM, we are now also seeing the growing players in the software market making the transition to e-learning. Companies such as Uptrends, Mendix, Exact and Mavim already have an Academy online where their customers can get to know their software step-by-step.

These growing software companies, which often have between 50 and 500 employees and focus on one specific software product that they develop themselves, have seen an increasing added value in e-learning in recent years. The recent COVID-19 crisis has significantly accelerated this new movement. We at Maxcademy have spoken with a number of these companies and have drawn a number of conclusions from this. In this article, we explain what the benefits are for these companies and how they can help you meet the learning needs around your organization's software product.

A number of advantages of applying e-learning are:

  • Enabling growth

  • Creating scalability

  • Providing continuity

  • Lower dependency on technique

  • Alternative to trial licenses

  • Efficient onboarding of new employees

Below, we go into each of these benefits in more detail.

E-learning as an enabler for growth

The Dutch software companies on which this article focuses often have the desire to grow exponentially and internationally. While growth increases the scope and continuity of companies, it also puts extra pressure on the organization. Not only do new customers need to be supplied with products, they also need to be supported and trained in the use of the software. In order to be able to cope with this growth, good preparation is very important. Not only do processes and systems have to be scaled up, the training of international customers, employees and partners also has to be considered. E-learning can offer a solution in this respect. Because e-learning has an investment curve that starts high and then quickly flattens out, companies can choose to invest in training even before they grow. They can reap the benefits of this during and immediately after the period of growth.

Scalability as a prerequisite for investors

We see that prior to growth, companies look for investors who will finance this growth. Investors will look at the product, business plan, market and scalability of the company. A company that is insufficiently scalable will have little potential for an investor looking for a company that is ready for expansion. A company that still depends on manual training will therefore not be very interesting to investors.

E-learning, on the other hand, is scalable. An online course that has been set up in the right way can be attended by an unlimited number of students on a daily basis. By making the processes, systems and (online) courses scalable, the chance of successfully attracting investors increases.

Digital learning as a guardian of continuity

The effectiveness of the training program can be measured by analyzing three things: support department load, customer satisfaction and customer turnover. An ineffective training curriculum will raise many questions for the support department. Users of the software who are insufficiently trained will not only have more questions, but may also cause (irreparable) damage to the data in the applications. A user who has gained insufficient knowledge of the software and needs to contact the service desk on a regular basis will also quickly become frustrated. A frustrated user will try to replace the application (or have it replaced) and will not recommend it to his or her peers. E-learning can offer a solution here. An e-learning environment can be continuously updated and quickly adapted. For example, frequently asked questions can be included on the support desk as a fixed part of the training and these questions can be avoided in the future.

As long as people are involved in providing training, human mistakes will also be made. Trainers may forget to deal with a particular function, may be distracted by questions or may misinterpret a function. By using e-learning, you have full control over what is communicated to your customers. You can go through the training yourself, you can make changes and you can check whether the e-learning is still up to date.

Lower dependency on technology

A good e-learning course is built according to modern standards and therefore works in any modern browser. The student only needs an internet connection and a browser. A slow internet connection or a difficult software installation will no longer be a barrier to taking the course. A common alternative to e-learning is the virtual classroom, where a trainer gives live instructions to the students via a conference tool such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom. Specialized virtual classroom platforms can also be used for this purpose. These sessions often start with 'can you hear me?', are interrupted by 'wait a minute, you're dropping out' and end in 'let's talk another time, if the internet cooperates a bit more'. This is workable for courses that are given with low frequency, like a few times a year. If the course is given more than a few times a year, e-learning is an efficient, professional and cost-saving solution. By offering a modern environment, the responsibility for a good connection is shifted to the student. And by no longer providing the training live, the student's environment can buffer and even in the event of a faltering internet connection, the materials can continue to play.

Academy as an alternative to trial licenses

Much to our surprise, it happens more and more often that software companies provide an e-learning environment instead of a trial version of their own application. This often happens in the sales phase where a Proof of Concept would normally have been shown. It is also often used as a forerunner to the Proof of Concept. Using e-learning instead of a trial has a number of advantages. While a customer can get lost in a trial version, e-learning teaches the most important features of the software. A good e-learning course always hides a marketing message because customers who are going to follow the online course also need to be enthused about getting started with the software. The same marketing message can reach your prospects in this way, now brought within a sincere learning message. Therefore, we do not recommend creating separate courses for marketing purposes, but advocate that our clients use their regular courses for this purpose. An additional advantage of using e-learning during the sales process is the low cost per student. In addition, this setup ensures that the customer has already invested time in your product, time that he or she does not need to invest again after purchasing your software. Your company's software has an immediate advantage over the competition.

Faster training / onboarding of colleagues

Training and familiarizing new colleagues is often a process that is difficult to plan over time. Agendas are often already full before the vacancy is even online, and the recruitment process already takes up enough time. The danger is that it takes too long to get started. For software companies, new colleagues must quickly become familiar with the software the company offers. This way, they learn what they are going to build, maintain, support or sell. A monthly physical training on a fixed date will extend this familiarization process and make the planning almost impossible. By using e-learning, employees can already start training during their first working day and are not forced to wait a few days or weeks for the next course. We also recommend digitizing a number of internal courses, such as the information security course or an onboarding program.

Some of our customers also choose to use the standard product courses as a case study before hiring a new employee. Before a new employee receives an offer, he or she must first complete the course and obtain a minimum score for it. In this way, the potential new employee also gets an immediate picture of your software and can make a well-considered choice about whether he or she wants to work with this application on a daily basis.

E-learning with a business case

We only work with customers who have a good business case for e-learning. That business case can be based on scalability, speed, continuity or simply on cost savings. A course that is often given - think of at least five to six times a year - and was also a commercial success in class, can easily be converted to e-learning cost-efficiently. We don't need to explain to you that e-learning allows you to make significant savings on matters such as personnel costs, location, transport and resources. These savings are not only there for you, but also for your customer. We are happy to help you make a good estimate of your needs.

One of our customers we spoke with during the run-up to this article is Mavim. See their customer case story here: Mavim.

Please contact us to discuss the possibilities for your organization.

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