Extended enterprise training is gaining importance within the corporate training space. eLearning vendors are talking about the benefits of extended enterprise training, while corporates are moving towards including more partners, distributors, and vendors into their training programs.

Most certainly, extended enterprise training is important, but why has it gained such rapid importance?

Apple has major production plants in China, resulting in all manufacturing functions taking place far away from California. Moreover, over 5 million workers—employed by sub-contractors—work for Apple. As a result, the ability to follow a process is paramount in maintaining the standards Apple is known for.

The one way Apple ensures suppliers are compliant, following best practices, and employing the latest technology in manufacturing is through a strong focus on training and development.

Isabel Ge Mah, Apple’s vice-president and managing director of Greater China said, “the company’s education and skill-building training programs have trained over 3.6 million supplier employees since 2008.”

That is understandable, but there’s more. Apple recently trained 20 factory employees from departments such as metal, painting, and CNC tools in computer coding. These workers joined the program with no previous knowledge. Within a span of four weeks, they successfully developed an application to sort garbage. Currently the application is helping solve a problem at one of Apple’s supplier’s facility. (http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201907/14/WS5d2aca17a3105895c2e7d518.htmla)

Apple ensures their vendors follow manufacturing processes. Moreover, it saves its own costs by helping vendors improve processes like waste management.

Apple’s example is one that delves directly into the benefits of extended enterprise training. However, there is a whole other side as well.

Organizations must focus on safeguarding themselves when working with third-party partners. Which makes training partners on acceptable actions and those that aren’t, equally important.

Adidas in 2014 suspended ongoing contracts with 13 companies on the basis of non-compliance. The terminated contract holders were found guilty of non-payment of wages, poor working conditions, and negligible safety practices. These 13 vendors were a part of a list of 103 vendors who originally made it out of a list of 200 vendors!

In another case, Nike employed child labour in Pakistan and Cambodia in 2001. However,  it was primarily their sub-contractor’s fault.

Had Adidas employed strict training programs to train the 103 vendors they selected, such malpractices could easily have been avoided. However, the lack of a training program in place resulted in vendors bypassing norms, allowing for human exploitation.

For vendors from developing countries, concepts such as child labour, fair-wage policy, safety, and compliance are still very unclear. Engaging in thorough training—on the contractor’s part—can help vendors understand the importance of such concepts.

In Nike’s case, it clearly defines the need for internal training first—since the same incident occurred twice—and then extended training for the sub-contractors.

Placing clear emphasis on extended enterprise training is possible, and combining them together results in an even better approach:

  • 1.

    LMS and eLearning

    Like in Apple’s case, training vendors operating across the globe is difficult. To further compound the difficulty, the number of vendors and sub-contractors can vary from one to hundreds—like Adidas. An LMS with unique portals for each vendor, loaded with relevant training content, administered by a centralized or even a local L&D department—but still a part of the parent company—is the best way to get the training across.

  • 2.

    Make Training and Compliance a Part of the SLA

    Service Level Agreements are the best way to ensure that your vendors are taking compliance and training seriously. Once signed, they are liable for any breach or non-fulfillment of the terms within the SLA.

  • 3.

    Highlight the Importance of Training

    In the case of resellers and distributors, good training is integral if correctly representing your organization and its services is important.
    Training on better selling, features and demos, and identifying the right sales channel, helps your distributors and resellers perform better. Such cases are common in the pharma industry where drug manufacturers conduct intense training seminars for distributors and retailers!

  • Internal training vs external training differs, choose your content accordingly.
  • If using an LMS, ensure the LMS has good extended enterprise training abilities with unique login pages for each vendor.
  • Follow it up with regular training.
  • FAQ style training content is perfect for extended enterprise.
  • Changes in products, updates, additions are exactly when such initiatives should be held.
  • Pro-active and training-friendly vendors can buy additional courses from you if needed.
  • Extended enterprise training increases vendor loyalty.
  • Extended enterprise training safeguards your organization legally.

Abara has won multiple awards for its learning management system. We have also bagged an award for “Top 20 Extended Enterprise Training LMS.” If your organization is interested in trying Abara or are keen to know more about the features offered, initiate a thirty-day free trial. For a personalized demo, click herem!

For eLearning courses on training partners, trainers, and vendors visit eNyota Learning.

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