As the 14th largest financial holding company in the U.S., Winston-Salem, N.C.-based BB&T Corp. began offering employees online courses for regulatory training, recertification training, and policy and procedures training nearly 10 years ago. But the company's mainframe-based system had serious limitations, notes David VanSchooten, e-learning manager at BB&T University, which oversees training initiatives. For example, BB&T's in-house content development team couldn't add images or graphics to course text, and trainees couldn't use a mouse to navigate presentations, he says.
But before BB&T ($132.6 billion in assets) could implement a content development tool, or Learning Content Management System (LCMS), VanSchooten explains, it first needed to implement a Learning Management System (LMS), the administrative tool for delivering online training content. "Our primary expectation for an online content delivery system was that it deliver content seamlessly through our LMS," he relates. While reviewing proposals from LMS vendors, which VanSchooten declines to identify, in 2005, BB&T was introduced to Nashua, N.H.-based LCMS provider EEDO, which had partnered with one of the LMS providers.
A Silver Lining
Though BB&T did not select the LMS provider, it identified EEDO's ForceTen LCMS as the ideal content development solution for its needs, according to VanSchooten. He says BB&T wanted an LCMS that was easy to use, allowing employees "to actually focus on their learning"; that "would be reliable and would work every time without maintenance headaches"; that offered "a large feature set so our developers had a wide range of options in developing content"; and, most important, that was scalable. "It was also our expectation that e-learning developers would be able to incorporate standard development applications, such as [San Jose, Calif.-based Adobe's] Flash and Captivate, in the new development environment and not be limited to a proprietary tool set," VanSchooten adds.
According to VanSchooten, the decision to purchase ForceTen was based largely on the product's capabilities as well as the strength of EEDO's support team. BB&T signed a contract with EEDO in September 2005 and purchased several Microsoft (Redmond, Wash.) SQL-based servers running Windows 2003 to host the ForceTen application.
While VanSchooten says configuring ForceTen "was a very easy process," he notes that the bank simultaneously had to implement the LMS system, so BB&T had to juggle finite IT resources among the implementations. As a result, a pilot program for the LCMS wasn't launched until February 2007, and the system didn't go live until March 2007.
A completely browser-based solution, ForceTen can be accessed from each employee's PC, VanSchooten relates. Within one year of the application's launch, BB&T's content development team had created 60 courses, he notes. Though VanSchooten declines to offer specific cost savings resulting from the implementation, he says the overall cost to implement and maintain ForceTen was "substantially less" than the cost to maintain the previous mainframe solution.
VanSchooten adds that he is pleased with the Web-based development platform's comprehensive selection of interaction types, such as assessments and simulations. The effective knowledge transfer, he continues, enables employees to do their jobs more efficiently. Further, "Our employees are not just happy with how easy it is to use the new e-learning courses -- they are ecstatic," VanSchooten says.
BB&T is so happy with the platform that it plans to upgrade to version 6.0 of ForceTen when it is released later this year. According to VanSchooten, the new version's feature set will allow BB&T to further streamline the bank's course-development process.
Case Study Snapshot
Institution: BB&T Corp. (Winston-Salem, N.C.).
Assets: $132.6 billion.
Business Challenge: Provide staff with targeted online content and training.
Solution: EEDO's (Nashua, N.H.) ForceTen Learning Content Management System.