Using e-Learning to support Strategic Business Initiatives
Facing intense market pressures, Eli Lilly and Company, a Fortune 100 global manufacturer of pharmaceuticals, strategically planned to implement a systems application and products (SAP) system to redesign and standardise its key business processes. To help implement the new system, which will eventually replace the more than 800 business systems used across the company, Lilly initiated the Global Business Integration Project (GBIP). As GBIP progressed, project leadership recognised the need for a common knowledge base among team members. The result was the creation of the innovative GBIP Academy, designed to reduce the time to optimal performance by project team members assigned to the many roles required to implement such a large-scale project.
In the second half of the 1990s, Eli Lilly and Company, headquartered in the US, was growing rapidly during a period when the pharmaceutical sector also saw extraordinary growth powered by breakthrough discoveries, streamlined regulatory processes, and a strong U.S. pharmaceutical market. Mergers and acquisitions continue to occur in the pharmaceutical industry, and proposals in the public policy arena suggest extending Medicare coverage—and price controls—to pharmaceuticals. As a result, Lilly stock performance was volatile.
The pharmaceutical marketplace is characterised by a demand for improved customer service,shorter product life cycles, and increasing globalisation. Employing more than 31,000 people in 179 countries, the 126-year-old Lilly saw a need to redesign and standardise its key business processes. To remain competitive in this environment, Lilly identified SAP. This global implementation would cross countries and cultures to address significant scope, cultural, skill shift, and perpetual change management issues, and would eventually replace the more than 800 business systems Lilly used across the company.
Lilly formed the Global Business Integration Project (GBIP), a global enterprise resource planning (ERP) project centred on implementation
Enterprise resource planning focuses on streamlining business processes across business units, essentially eliminating redundancies and increasing the efficiency of the business.
Program Design and Description
Objectives and Goals of GBIP
GBIP’s mission is to implement common business processes at implementation sites throughout Lilly’s worldwide organisation. Once GBIP
implementation is complete, the number of business systems will be reduced from 800 to 250.Consolidation of Lilly’s myriad systems in place
throughout the world will mean:
- elimination of data duplication to enable faster business decisions
- stabilisation of better defined business processes
- standardised processes to facilitate product launches
- integrated data for report costing,milestones, tracking, and the like
- linking the business with the supply chain
- linking sales interaction with resource and development
- ease of maintaining accurate and timely information updates around the world
- integration of the approximately 1,000 new sales associates who will benefit from e-Learning over the next 2-3 years.
Since 1999, Intellinex personnel have served with Lilly personnel on the GBIP Learning Solutions team, conducting training strategy and
courseware development work. The Learning Solutions team includes instructional designers and technical personnel whose primary focus is
the development of training to support the GBIP team and end users who will ultimately work on the system. Initial GBIP implementations took
place in France and Spain in the summer and fall of 1999.
Figure 1 on the next page shows the sequence and substance of learning solutions provided by Intellinex. “Go-live” refers to the training deployment date. Eli Lilly’s CEO, Sydney Taurell,best captured the mission of GBIP when he stated,“GBIP supports our strategy, enables better
decisions, removes complexity, drives cultural change, and connects us with suppliers, customers,and others. With all those things going for it, just one question remains: How quickly can we implement GBIP?”
Why Use E-Learning for GBIP Training?
Regulations targeting the pharmaceutical industry require Lilly to be particularly mindful of standardising processes at all of its manufacturing
sites. Lilly must also consider how local practices and laws may cause some processes to vary.The implementations of GBIP that took place in
France and Spain were supported by paper-based training materials. Lilly recognised the need for learning to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as well as for it to be timely, cost-efficient,market-focused, and self-directed. It became clear to Lilly that learning delivered via the Web was a viable approach to delivering its training to its audience spread over multiple sites in multiple countries. Training on the Web would enable the company to leverage its existing facilities without the added expense of renting space to train all employees worldwide. Realising the difficulty of such a massive global effort, Lilly decided to migrate its GBIP training to the Web. As a worldclass learning organization, Lilly needs to be proactive in responding to the changing marketplace.
Long-term, Web-based training would give Lilly:
- competitive advantage, by getting knowledge into the hands of the people faster, to better serve customers
- the ability to attract the brightest employee resources and to empower those individuals to increase their personal knowledge
- the opportunity to be first to market; in an era of shorter product life cycles, this may also be leveraged to suppliers andcustomers
- speed to disseminate knowledge, due to increasing globalisation
- more efficient processes, which save Lilly operating costs without compromising revenue.
In addition, e-Learning has been found to provide improved work and life balance for employees. Classroom or event training has traditionally
meant people had to travel somewhere for an extended period of time to learn something and,by definition, spend time away from home and
their jobs. E-Learning offers flexibility, an opportunity to learn in manageable, selective, and relevant sections anytime, anywhere. The improved work-life balance would also help Lilly attract and retain people who found traveling burdensome. And it will save the company money;industry studies indicate about two-thirds of training costs are allotted to business travel expenses.
Management also believes e-Learning enables the company to initiate great cultural change in the company, influencing how participants see
training in the future.
In evaluating which e-Learning tools to use, Lilly project managers looked for a powerful tool that allowed flexibility but at the same time had built-in simplicity. Intellinex’s LEAP (Learning Environment to Accelerate Performance) would provide Lilly with self-directed learning capability for all its targeted audiences via the Internet.
The E-Learning Solution
GBIP end users possess varying degrees of experience and computer skills. To ensure that Lilly reaches a common level of use competence,
courses and lessons have been structured to allow for different skill levels. End users, or those Lilly employees who are to interact with the new
systems and processes implemented as part of GBIP, receive training and support on four levels: project, process, job, and performance support.
PROJECT LEVEL. The goal of project-level training is to give end users the foundational knowledge of GBIP, SAP, and key concepts such as
data stewardship and integrated systems.
PROCESS LEVEL. Process-level training is designed to provide a framework for learning new job skills and for understanding the complex
relationships within the SAP system. It incorporates process threads such as how to track purchased raw materials as well as business scenarios to provide a big-pictorial view of the context in which end users perform their tasks.
JOB LEVEL. Job-level training instructs end users how to perform their new job tasks in a setting where they can practice new skills. Courses
combine overview and transaction information,along with guided practice, to provide contextual and practical skill-building opportunities.
PERFORMANCE SUPPORT LEVEL. Performance support provides just-in-time support to end users once they have left the training environment.Context sensitive help, accessed from within the SAP interface, a help desk, and a Website containing terminology, transaction aids, and other reference material are among the mechanisms put in place to support GBIP end users.
Training in support of GBIP was initially launched in conjunction with the first two GBIP implementations in early 1999. The Learning
Solutions team will continue to support GBIP with development and delivery of training through the end of the GBIP rollout schedule. When GBIP is complete, the Center of Excellence (COE), based in Indianapolis, will assume the training maintenance and delivery function. The goal of the COE is to enable common business processes and realisation of business goals by ensuring the integrity of the GBIP solution and providing excellent one-on-one customer service. Questions that cannot be answered at an affiliate site are forwarded to experts in the COE.
Delivery and tracking of GBIP curricula will be facilitated through an online Course Management System (CMS) called LEADS, a Lilly-customised bolt-on, or addition to, the SAP system.
Implementation and Evaluation
Since Lilly is developing and delivering on the Web,employees have immediate access to updated material. Course maintenance time is reduced because it is easy to modify lessons and make them instantly available on the system.
To facilitate on-going design of courses,evaluation is being conducted on two levels. One level is informal, with subject matter experts representing the four implementation areas. Four sample lessons were used to obtain feedback and gain buy-in from each stakeholder group in pilot test sessions.
The GBIP strategy is also receiving favourable reactions from participants in the pilot test sessions. Comments from learners during pilot
- I liked the actual screen prints of SAP being used in the lesson. I also liked the pop-up windows for explaining parts of theSAP screen.
- It is user-friendly.
- It is simple to use and would be very helpful for others once they start using the system.
Course evaluation is also performed by the Learning Solutions Advisory Council. The council consists of Lilly personnel from affiliates in Spain
and the United States as well as others who have global responsibility for functions such as global training and development and global sales and
marketing. Lilly personnel on the Learning Solutions Advisory Council represent a broad range of corporate experience and provide the Learning Solutions team with insight that reflects perspectives outside GBIP and outside the United States.
The GBIP Academy
During the implementation of GBIP in France and Spain in the summer and fall of 1999, GBIP leadership realised that GBIP implementation
team members had additional needs in order to be effective.
It was found that team members needed a better understanding of their roles on the project, the project’s scope, and its timelines.To address this training component, the GBIP Learning Solutions team established the GBIP Academy in the summer of 1999 with input from project leadership. The academy’s curriculum was designed and developed to reduce the time to optimal performance for the approximately 500
GBIP project team members. The curriculum provides structured and formalised training for new, transfer, and existing team members.
Initially, 70 percent of the project team was made up of vendors, and the remaining percentage was Lilly employees. The percentages are reversed now, with the majority of the project team composed of Lilly personnel. To accommodate the huge influx of new employees working on the project and to meet regulated training requirements, all team members are required to participate in a basic training program. In addition
to providing orientation to the project, basic training courses cover GBIP common areas such as implementation methodology, project tools,
and coping mechanisms for working in a fastpaced,high-change environment. Courses required for compliance purposes are also delivered at this time. Courses are delivered in the classroom and via Web-based lessons. Once individuals complete basic training, they can enrol in additional strategic and tactical courses based on their project role and function. Courses are continuously added to the academy curriculum to
support team members as the project progresses through implementation phases. Management of registration and delivery of the courses is also
Implementation in Spain and France was challenging yet ultimately successful. For example,new functionality enabled by GBIP allows personnel to access data and generate critical reports in minutes compared with reports in business systems that sometimes took weeks or months to compile. Both the implementations and the accompanying training achieved their goals,yet many lessons were learned that have been
applied to strategies for future implementations.
Overall, Lilly’s lessons learned in relation to training from this massive global project fell into three main categories. The first lesson involved
how best to implement training at future sites,taking into account cultural differences. The second lesson was how to manage the everchanging
education process, and the third lesson was how to bring the large number of trainers and courseware developers on board as quickly and
effectively as possible.
— Involve stakeholders earlier: Anticipating the challenges of an international implementation,special efforts were made to obtain buy-in from
French and Spanish upper-level management at the onset of the project. In addition, at least one representative from each site was included on the implementation team. Going forward, Lilly is planning to initiate this buy-in process sooner at remote sites to ensure that participants are more comfortable with the project and feel they have a greater voice in training development and delivery.
— Decrease the amount of paper: It was determined that the amount of paper used to introduce the training and procedures in France and Spain had to be minimised.
Not only did the affiliates find the paperwork cumbersome to maintain, but also when paper was used as a medium, Lilly feared distribution of
conflicting versions. Online curriculum mapping and distribution of courses will eliminate many of the course management tasks that were performed manually in Spain and France. As a result, Lilly decided to accelerate the push to Web-based courses in anticipation of reducing overall travel and printing costs, which typically are about two-thirds of overall training costs.
— Use shorter, more visual statements: Based on suggestions received from follow-up evaluations conducted at the French and Spanish facilities,
courses will be developed with shorter, stronger statements, using more visual imagery to illustrate processes and tasks. Also, each local
implementation site will have the opportunity to decide if it wants to translate any or all of the course content into the local business language,
rather than have the company employ a translation service. This will ensure accurate translation of the technical parts of the messages.
— Build in flexibility to address cultural issues:
Lilly also realised many differences it had to address in cultural perceptions. In Spain, for example, it was found employees preferred to be
taught by an instructor. They liked the socialisation of getting together in class and wanted to be able to ask the instructor questions
face-to-face. Although Lilly made the decision to implement this training via the Web, it decided that each site could customize how that training
would be delivered. Some smaller sites may decide to gather employees in a room with a facilitator who walks them through the Web-based training.
Others may opt to deliver training via the Web only, allowing employees the convenience of taking courses when and where they prefer. And
in remote sites, training may be delivered with an instructor or a CD-ROM. This versatility of course delivery is an example of critical best practice design.
— Promote benefits of e-Learning: Another factor affecting the success of GBIP’s Web-based training strategy is that some employees view
travel for training as a perk. Lilly plans to address this preference in communications that will be disseminated prior to implementation at each site.
The material will emphasise positive company and employee aspects of e-Learning.
- Managing On-going Education: Lilly operates in a heavily regulated industry, with laws and guidelines changing continuously. The company’s challenge has been to devise a way to provide employees throughout the world with up-to-date information regarding industry changes that require new, consistent company processes. Lilly decided that the most effective way to transfer this critical information to its employees is via the Web. As evaluation feedback leads to continuous process improvements to the courses, sites that have already received training will need to know only where changes have occurred. New training will cover only the difference.
- Training the Trainers: An unexpected benefit that also came out of the implementation process was the confirmation that those responsible fordeveloping and delivering the training needed to be brought on board as quickly as possible, with a common base of knowledge. This was especially important considering the global scope of Lilly’s training project and the timeline identified to accomplish it. Personnel who deliver or facilitate the delivery of GBIP training are referred to as Power Users. Power Users typically support 10 end users by helping them complete GBIP training and practice on the new system, and direct them to performance support and other job aids designed to help them with their tasks. While initial GBIP training takes place in the weeks before go-live, continuous improvement and ongoing development after go-live depend heavily on the Power Users.
GBIP is gaining steam toward major implementations in the United States and United Kingdom. While great effort has been placed on
delivering the best global solution for Lilly, ERP implementations at other firms have shown that effective training can increase the success of such projects. If the system users do not know how to perform their tasks in the new system, it is destined for failure. Knowing this, Eli Lilly and
Company has chosen to deploy Web-based training to support its multisite, global ERP effort.By making its training strategy flexible to allow for
local variances and cultural preferences, Lilly has taken the necessary steps toward ensuring that its personnel who will interact with GBIP-enhanced systems have the knowledge and skills necessary to do their jobs. With GBIP, Eli Lilly and Company is investing financial and human resources into changing its company to be more successful in the face of changing business realities. When the implementations are complete and the result measured, much of the success will be attributable to a training strategy bolstered by e-Learning.
and Company” by Andy McGuire and Ken Goldwasser as
published in In Action: Implementing E-Learning Solutions. Jack
J. Phillips, Editor. Published by the American Society for Training &
Development, 2001. Used with permission. email@example.com | Knowledge Economy Zambia | Issue Four, April 2012