Voice of Experience: Joe ArnetteBy Baselinemag | Posted 2004-06-08 Print
Rent-A-Center vice president of training, Joe Arnette, is rolling out a companywide e-learning system. Software costs were only the tip of the iceberg.
Voice of Experience
VP of Training
Manager's Profile: In charge of training for the $2.3 billion retailer, which has 14,000 employees at more than 2,800 stores in North America. The company rents a variety of durable goods, including appliances, consumer electronics, computers and furniture.
Training Haze: Rent-A-Center's store managers used to handle training locally, so there was no way for anyone at headquarters to determine how many workers had received training or assess areas the company needed to develop. Moreover, because its training materials were primarily videos and hard-copy workbooks, updating content was extremely time-consuming. "It was really quite a chore," says Arnette.
His Project: Last fall, Arnette and his team received the go-ahead to roll out a companywide e-learning system to provide online entry-level training (such as customer-service skills) and track existing instructor-led management classes. Their goal was to automate and standardize training processes across all locations to improve customer service.
Live and Learn: Arnette says Rent-A-Center picked Plateau Systems' software because of its flexibility and ability to handle large-scale environments, which he felt the company had proved with other customers. But setting up the Plateau system turned out to be more labor-intensive than he had expected. "We ended up needing a lot more planning to set up Plateau than I thought," he says. "It's not just a plug-and-play deal." Another big challenge: His team, with assistance from Plateau's professional services group, had to develop code to link the software with Rent-A-Center's Lawson Software human-resources system.
Costly Content: Rent-A-Center also contracted with e-learning services provider DigitalThink to convert its existing training materials into 12 hours of content—which turned out to be the most expensive part of the project. While Arnette won't provide dollar figures, he says content-development costs were roughly 50% more than what Rent-A-Center spent on the learning-management system itself. "That was one of the big 'ahas' for us," he says. "It's not cheap to develop custom content."
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