The 3 Biggest Headaches for Australian RTOs

Based on a quick survey including some of our clients and other RTOs, the biggest issues facing these businesses are:

  • Attracting and retaining high value clients.
  • Managing AVETMISS and other compliance requirements.
  • Managing staff and contractors.

These businesses use enormous resources to support administrative functions to manage and execute key business processes.  Many are also facing enormous competitive pressures due to commoditisation of their products and services.  Commoditisation is making it harder for many RTOs to differentiate themselves to prospective clients and increase their sales revenue.

Here is a short list of some solutions that we have implemented for clients and were found to be effective.

  • Get very clear on your target market[s] and your ideal client profiles.
  • Adjust your ‘messaging’ and communications to fit your market and ideal clients.  One size does not fit all.
  • Get some help with your internet marketing. Unless you have some spare time or a resource available to do this critical work.  Internet marketing includes your website, social media, search engine and content marketing.
  • Automate as many processes as possible.  Our clients use DOTS LMS as a multi-faceted business management tool for compliance, client and staff management.  You may already have the tools to do this effectively but have not leveraged them effectively.
  • Use technology to personalise the client and learner experience.  Our clients have the option of creating unique learning management environments for their corporate and government clients.  You may not have the resources for a comprehensive LMS but you can still set up online resources for your clients that cost little or nothing depending upon your objectives.
  • Start having regular meetings with staff and contractors on a team and individual level.  Create an agenda and use these meetings to make sure you are touch with every element of your business.  Regular one on one meetings with staff that review goals, performance and roadblock issues are much easier than one big performance appraisal every 6 – 12 months.
  • Use technology to support your sales process from prospect to client stages.  If you have a system use it well and if you do not have a system look for one that is easy to use and includes reports.  This type of software does not need to be super expensive.

If you have any questions about these points or you are interested in exploring some ways to make your RTO more successful in 2014, you are welcome to get in touch using the contact details on this website.

L & D Department or Catalyst for Change

In the spirit of the New Year and all the hoped for changes we have planned in our personal and working lives I thought about how some of our clients might be thinking of transforming their professional endeavours to a whole new level.

If 2013 went by quickly for you then there is little chance 2014 will be any different.  We are living and working in environments that are changing so quickly that often we may not recognise change until it has already occurred.  Organisations are facing challenges dealing with change both within their workforce and outside in the macro environment in which they compete.

I had a discussion with a CEO of a state based Association.  He was lamenting the fall-off in memberships and the struggles they are having finding new ones.  He indicated they are certainly not alone in facing these challenges.  When you begin to analyse the issue you can see some of the reasons they are facing this predicament.

  • The demographics of their membership are changing fast.  The older members are retiring and the younger ones have not ‘grown up’ with a concept of what associations are or what they do.   Similarly in organisations there may not be the loyalty or sense of deep commitment to an organisation ‘out of the box’ with younger workers.
  • The associations are competing against so many other choices for spending time.  It is harder and harder to get a person to come to a face to face sit down meeting after a hard day of work.  Do workers want to take out a half or a full day to sit in a room for training?  If the training is aligned with a personal interest or identified real benefit yes, if it is intangible or unidentified then no.
  • People still want learning and development but they want it delivered more flexibly and not necessarily involving travel away from home.  Most associations offer learning and development as a core service to their members but when was the last time they asked the members what they wanted?  What they are interested in?  Are there some courses of interest that have nothing to do with the association but are still of interest?  The same goes in any organisation.  The courses that fit in the budget are those that are typically aligned with a strategy or initiative or compliance requirement.  Few companies consider other dimensions of their employees’ lives when considering interesting content to offer.

There are a few of these issues that could have at least some part of a resolution using technology.

What does this have to do with Learning and Development?  Everything. The same challenges confronting my friend in his association faces business leaders across the board.  How do you engage effectively with other people in a process of learning, development, collaboration and performance improvement?  I believe this challenge is one that the Learning and Development Professional is ideally suited to address with the right resources.

Whether it is an association seeking members or an organisation seeking to attract and retain great people, these are some ideas I have about transforming L & D from a department to a catalyst for change.

It is one thing to have an LMS, it is altogether another to use the LMS platform to enable personal learning journeys.  You need not cease the compliance management but you can add so much more to enable people to chart their own course to development.   I believe feedback using surveys and personal assessment tools enable greater insight into how people are working together and making decisions.

Collaboration and knowledge sharing platforms can be so powerful to communication vision, ideas and best practices.  Some of the systems I have seen are obviously imbued with fear as they have less than optimum levels of participation and even less honesty.  There is plenty of ‘vanilla communication’ but nothing approaching open and frank sharing of ideas and concerns regardless of title and status.

The catalyst for change can include inviting other persons to contribute and participate from outside your organisation.  The best examples I have seen of this include a focused approach that invites persons who have expertise or experience in topics of interest.  Of course if your collaboration/communication system is healthy you can measure interest in certain topics.

There are business people, entrepreneurs, academics, physical and mental health professionals, and so many others that are out there right now contributing in the ‘social media universe.’  You can provide some amazing learning and networking opportunities for your people by inviting thought leaders into your organisation.   I have seen this work with short webinars, PowerPoint presentations converted to e-learning content,  informal and formal coaching and engaging via the normal platforms such as Google + and LinkedIn.

These are just some ideas I felt I had to write down after conversing with my friend.  I meet so many learning and development professionals who demonstrate thought leadership, proactivity and innovation all the time.  It is the wise CEO and executive team who encourage and promote learning as both a means of attaining competitive advantage and encouraging people to become the best they can be.

Social Media and DOTS LMS

We are doing some interesting work with some clients using DOTS LMS as a key plank in their social media strategies.  The DOTS LMS offers a great deal of flexibility to integrate and support social media.   There is some debate about access to social media platforms from within the LMS.  In this scenario, users may access social media sites from the user home page or in DOTS there are a few other places we can add links to social media.  For instance in the DOTS Content Creatorwe can add links within a course and this is very practical when you want to encourage sharing of the course experience and application of knowledge in the workplace.  One platform that has some interesting application in this regard isYammer.  Of course all of the more common platforms can be utilised as well including FacebookTwitterTumblrGoogle + etc.  There is a critical first step and that is determining the purpose of your social media integration and what utility this will offer both the end users and management.  I have seen some excellent examples of facilitators/trainers linking their social platform to courses in DOTS LMS.  In DOTS you can send a learner out to the internet and bring them back to the LMS when they have viewed pages specified in the course.  You can use the split screen tool in DOTS to provide instructions and/or questions/ideas you want learners to communicate on a social media platform.   There is great deal of power usingDOTS LMS for external users as well.  The DOTS website management module enables you to create external login pages, landing(squeeze pages), enrolments, surveys among others.  You can create content in DOTS and use your social media to publish the links to drive traffic.  Many of our clients do this using their blogs and you can also add access to sophisticated courseware and content via one of your social media platforms.  The options for using DOTS LMS are large and varied given the tremendous scope of social media platforms available.  If you would like to explore some of these options, pleasecontact me directly.