You know how the saying goes:
It takes a village to raise a child.
I don’t know who was the first to figure this out, but boy was that a wise person! You just can’t do it alone — raise a child or grow a business (which is just another type of baby, I’m sure every CEO will agree) — because the world is bigger than your home and there are people out there who know stuff that you don’t.
Regardless of the type of baby you’re trying to bring up, you need all the help you can get.
A company means more than its CEO. An established company becomes that way thanks to the breath, sweat and tears of everyone involved in its upbringing, not just the CEO’s. The head of a company is like a parent: worrying about the future, planning how to overcome all obstacles and guiding the offspring in the right direction.
But the success of any company is based on the hard work and commitment of all employees, suppliers, partners, customers and any stakeholder involved in any way in the well-functioning and development of the business.
All these stakeholders come together under the umbrella commonly known as the extended enterprise.
What exactly is the extended enterprise?
The extended enterprise is for any business organization what the village is for any child that needs to be raised.
In more scholarly terms, the extended enterprise is defined as the wider organization representing all associated entities — customers, employees, suppliers, distributors, etc — who directly or indirectly, formally or informally, collaborate in the design development, productions, and delivery of a product the end user.
The smarter the village the smarter the child
The output always depends on the input. If the villagers are wise and knowledgeable, the child will learn from them. If not, the child will still learn from them. So it is in the interest of any parent/CEO to be part of a wise and knowledgeable village/extended enterprise.
More often than not, some sort of training must be involved in this wisdom and knowledge sharing — be it face-to-face, online, or blended. Either way, a business LMS can be a valuable tool for those considering creating and managing training courses for the network of organizations that can influence the success of their company.
Training the extended enterprise
So we all agree that providing some training to all the people that can affect how a company is perceived by the big business world is not such a bad idea. But who exactly should be trained, and how?
Let’s start with the WHO part:
- Employees. Obviously. Employees are much more than simple and exchangeable cogs in the business system. They are those people that make the difference between a satisfied customer and a truly happy customer. They are the best and most powerful promoters of your business and they can attract other great people to join your organization. Last but not least, they are the ones who interact directly with other actors of the extended enterprise. Of course they should know your products and services like the back of their pockets.
- Suppliers. Unless your business is a small one-man-show or alike, you can’t create all your products and services in your backyard, right? All the raw materials and supporting services come from your suppliers network. From stationery or office furniture to the most important parts of your products and services, you need suppliers who understand your business and provide the best solutions for your needs. Training suppliers on those needs is a smart move because the right training courses can prevent many misunderstandings later on.
- Resellers. You’re convinced your products and services can ease the lives of many people, so you’re trying to place your business in front of as many eyeballs as possible. In doing so, a team of resellers can really help you grow. But you have to convince them that your business solutions are so awesome they have to reach as many people as possible. And if your resellers know how to answer any question a prospect may have, they’ll inevitably improve their selling performance.
- Volunteers. In case your company is involved in the organization of big events with thousands of attendees, like concerts, conferences, international fairs, etc., contracting volunteers to give a helping hand is necessary. And training those volunteers on all issues from safety to registration of attendees to participation at special events within the big event — and everything in between — is also necessary. With the best training, volunteers will know how to handle all situations successfully.
- Customers. Signing a deal with a new customer is just the beginning a beautiful professional relationship. Any powerful product has a comprehensive set of features, so new users need some time to learn them all. If customers get spot-on training on how to use your business solution they’ll make the most out of it. The sooner this happens, the faster they’ll see results, so they’ll be happy to renew their contracts and recommend your company.
And now let’s move on to the HOW part.
How can you train your extended enterprise? With an LMS, of course!
A learning management system makes it possible for you to create as many courses that you want to train as many different people that you want. Because suppliers are different than resellers, which are different than customers, and so on. And there are not two customers exactly the same, no two volunteers exactly the same, and so on. Each course can be adapted to a certain target learner.
Basically, you can reap all the benefits of a cloud-based LMS, multiplied by whatever the number of actors of your extended enterprise you need to train.
What’s more, by creating different portals for the different types of learners you can ensure everyone gets the right pieces of information. Any confidential data that only employees should know will only be available for employees to access. Resellers or suppliers will be able to see only the training information you add to their respective learning portals.
Every company should consider offering training to all members of the extended enterprise, whether we’re talking about employees, suppliers, resellers, volunteers and even customers. This will help them save a lot of time and money, all while organically growing the business.
After all, the wiser the village, the more successful the child.
Graham is the CEO and Founder of CYPHER LEARNING and MATRIX. He is a serial entrepreneur, e-learning enthusiast, published author, and educator.