A-Grade LMS solutions for developing an SME Workforce | Bluegem

A-Grade LMS solutions for developing an SME Workforce | Bluegemdeveloping an SME Workforce

There’s no good reason why your small to medium business can’t enjoy the same benefits of effective workforce planning and development that your biggest competitors can access.

Like so many things in business, developing SME Workforces starts with great systems. This article offers simple, cost-effective ways to implement workforce planning and development using integrated Human Resource (HR) and Learning Management (LM) systems.

1. Automate secure access to your HR database

Don’t just show me an employee’s name, job tile and contact information. Show me how I can work with that person effectively to achieve mutual success and prosperity!

What’s needed to start developing an SME Workforce?

Today, it would be unusual for a business of any size to not have some form of HR database to store its people, e.g. its staff, customers, suppliers, contractors and consultants. This is important for developing an SME Workforce and an A-Grade LMS solution can deliver that functionality too. While most organisations have some form opf HR Datanbase, they don’t always have the capability to automatically exchange that data with other systems such as a Learning Management System (LMS). An integrated HR and LMS solution enables you to look at your people holistically, not just as employees with name, position and contact details. You can also access their skills, capabilities and opportunities. You can view individual, team and organisational skill profiles. That holistic view of your people is difficult when working with isolated systems. Yes, you can import / export file data between your systems using spreadsheets, and that’s an ok way to start. But these days its easy to find cost-effective software with a built-in Application Program Interface (API), which enables two or more software applications to talk to each other unassisted and as often as necessary, while fully observing privacy and security policies. Your vendor will be able to tell you what’s possible and can help you implement their API.

Ref: Commoncraft: https://www.commoncraft.com/


2. Developing an SME Workforce starts with Developing a strong Capability Framework

In order to deliver value to its customers any business needs a collection of clearly identified skills and expertise, i.e. a capability framework. A detailed understanding of the skills required to continuously deliver value in a changing market is one of the most important ways to develop a strong point-of-difference in your industry. A well designed LMS can help you do that. It’ll help you create and maintain a flexible capability framework that accurately models pathways to personal, team and organisational success.

The LMS should enable you to break the capability framework into team, departmental and cross-departmental roles that offer multiple pathways to enable staff to gain the competencies necessary to engage and perform proficiently, productively and confidently.

  • Roles – contain a group of individual, team or organisational capabilities
  • Capabilities – enables you to group skills that lead to a capbility within a role
  • Skills – list the detailed talents and abilities that make up a capability
  • Assessment – defines how a skill will be measured and assessed
  • Validation – evaluates effectiveness of the delivery and assessment process
  • Competency – a recognised skill.

The capability framework provides a matrix for effective workforce planning and development. But in LMS terms it literally provides a navigation menu for implementation of all the related processes that follow.

3. Develop a Capability Plan to determine how many trained recourses you need

Q: How do you know when it’s time to hire more people?

A: When your capability plan identifies a shortage of the skilled resources needed to meet your business goals and commitments.

The capability plan is a very simple, yet extremely powerful tool for developing an SME Workforce. So far we’ve identified that you have some available people and skills to match the roles identified in your capability framework. But how many skilled operatives do you actually need in each role. Do you have enough, too many or just the right amount?

As an organisation you’d decide how to best match your capacity to sales expectations, strategic objectives and timeframes. You could do this using a simple four-column spreadsheet for each Division or Team in your company (Skill, Required Capacity, Minimum Capacity, and Priority): Your cpability plan (spreadsheet) would be imported into the LMS to determine your resource requirements for each Role, Capability and Skill. The LMS updates a dashboard showing you what resources you currently have. It then calculates current capacitylevels and gives you a Gap Report in an interactive dashboard. Like this model that we created using Microsoft Power BI:

The Capability Plan identifies the capacity required to provide fire and emergency coverage accross the regions of Tasmania. You can click graphic and tabular regions to filter and drill down to more detail.

Power BI – Dashboard Example

[NOTE: This model developed by Bluegem Software is provided as a live interactive demonstration, Apart from locations and roles all data presented in this dashboard is conceptual and fictional]

4. Plan to develop capabilities through scheduled workshops, training and assessment.

Q: So now you have on one hand, enough people; and on the other the capabilities your business requires. How do you connect people to capabilities for developing an SME Workforce?

A: Training and Assessment.

The key is scheduling. You need to provide the courses, workshops, on-the-job assessments and continuous professional development opportunities your people need to help you deliver your business promises, goals and commitments. The more long-term planning and scheduling you can achieve the better.

For practical purposes let’s say you plan your training yearly. Your Capability Framework has identified the workshops, professional development courses, assessments and on-the-job experience your people need. Now, you need to allocate times-slots, L&D training staff, venues, equipment and other resources.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could: right-click a level in your capability framework, select a menu option like “schedule training events”, then have an attractive user-friendly calendar pop-up to let you allocate training staff, venues, equipment, transport, meals, anything. You enter the details and requirements to deliver a workshop or event.

This very short video from the Bluegem LMS shows how to easily add a timetable to your training activities using a calendar view:

Watch just the timetable section of the Bluegem Video (20 Seconds)

If you want to watch the full video go here:Bluegem Video (2 Minutes)

  1. You’ll probably want to run events regularly to give all your employees the opportunity to attend. So for that you’d have recurrence, the ability to automatically repeat the event as often as necessary. All the rules around public holidays, availability of resources and equipment, etc. should be built into the software.
  2. There’s a strong possibility that most of the resources you need for your first capability development plan will also be required for others. So you should be able to save the event as a template and reuse it to develop similar timetables for the other capabilities in your framework.

Soon, with not too much effort you have: placeholder training events, on-the-job, PD activities, refresher courses, assessments and accreditation programs, etc. mapped out for the whole year. I say “placeholder” because what you plan is not always what transpires. The LMS should give you the flexibility to change events to suit real-world circumstances and automatically notify affected people of any schedule changes.

4. Role Development Plans (RDPs) make everyone accountable.

Q: When is best time to create and update Role Development Plans?

A: When induting people or reviewing performance. Similar when reviewing team or organisational performance.

When a new person is inducted into your business that would be a good time to consider an individual RDP. Individual and Team performance reviews might be another. In fact, yo don’t need to consider it at all. Your LMS can auto-generate an RDP for each individual or team based on their position or roles within the organisation. The RDP comes in two types:

  1. Aspirational – a set of capability training events, workshops and assessments that take work hours and shift work into consideration, in order to achieve long term goals of a particular role in the organisation. People and Teams with multiple roles will have an individual or team RDP respectively for each.
  2. Maintain Currency – this is like a Professional Development Plan and is used in the same way, i.e. a set of training events, workshops, refresher courses, etc. designed to ensure the person or team competences are current. Generally these would have expiry dates that trigger the LMS to issue workflow reminders and notifications.

The RDP is automatically updated with supervisor / manager and training provider sign-offs, performance notes, results, attendance, feedback and any corrective actions necessary. It is designed to maintain integrity and accountability of the process, and to keep the capability development objectives on track. Since it is live and current it creates a good source of data for report and dashboard such as the one demonstrated earlier. In that way you can run reports that identify:

  • Skill Gaps at all levels and for all capabilities (as the example demonstrates)
  • To identify and reward talent based on captured results and observations
  • To plan and track resource usage of training and assessment resources
  • To review and plan for training, assessment and capability requirements

5. Nominate and enrol people into workshops and training events

If you didn’t have RDPs identifying training requirements for each individual and team would you rely on your people to remember to book themselves into courses? Maybe not!

Direct enrolment into courses is and should be avaiable in the LMS where and when you allow it, but the process of nominating your people into training events, based on their priorities and expected-completion-timeframes automates the process and avoids the need for anyone having to remember to book is.

Prior to commencement of a training event the LMS will have prioritised your people based on the expected goals and timelines set out in their role development plans. Nomination also requires supervisor / manager approval since the system won’t immediately know what each persons work commitments are. The process completes with the ‘learner’ accepting a place in the training event.

Cancelations, waiting list entrants, deferral of training, transfers to another training event, staff replacement in a training seat, etc. all have related workflows and notification processes.

6. Mark Attendance and Assessment

Attendance and Assessents can be complex or simple, to suit your requirements for industry accreditation and validation. A simple indication of attendance at a workshop or training event may be adequate. On the other hand, you industry may demand full accreditation, validation of competencies and certification. All of these should be bread and butter activities for an LMS without adding cost. Your system should allow you to choose your desired level of reporting. But attendance should be the minimum level of accountability in order for the system to provide valid results.

7. Full system integration and Single-Sign-On – the holy grail

Smart Workforce Cloud Platform

If you need a practical, affordable, easy-to-use LMS Solution then the Smart Workforce Cloud Platform from Bluegem Software may be just what you’re looking for.

This package can be integrated with Office 365 and Xero Accounting Software. It includes a generous training and support package. If you don’t have either of those, no problem. Bluegem runs very nicely on its own. Alternatively, if you’d like to consider and integrated LMS, HR and Office 365 solution Bluegem can provide a fully managed platform, including all 3 components with deployment and technical support services.

  • Convenient cloud software solution
  • Priced for SMEs
  • Complete LMS – workshops, online, blended, virtual class-room, all-in-one
  • Integrated with Office 365 and Xero (options)
  • Full suite of installation, training and support services
  • If you’re an RTO, be assured that Bluegem complies fully with AVETMISS, USI, VSL and CRICOS administration and reporting requirements.
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