Well into its tenth decade, the Coca-Cola Bottlers’ Association (CCBA) continues to count among its membership every domestic bottler of Coca-Cola products, as well as a number of international associate members, including Coca-Cola Bottlers in Bermuda, Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and Canada. Initially established in 1914 to protect members’ products from sham liability claims, the 21st century finds the Association providing an ever-increasing array of products and services to its membership.
Among its most important functions is providing members with important training and education programs. For bottlers, chief among these concerns are the issues of loss control and risk aversion. In 2010, the CCBA members approached Charles L. Norton, CCBA General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, and expressed concerns that their anti-trust education and training programs were out of date.
Coca-Cola bottlers perform several functions related to the production and delivery of Coke products. Not only do the bottlers run production lines that mix and package Coke’s beverages, but they are also responsible for the delivery and shelving of all products. Bottling companies range in size from small family businesses to large corporate conglomerates.
This large range in organizational size, training audience and working environment presented the CCBA with challenges in both course content creation and delivery.
Mr. Norton explained, “Employees at bottling associations run the gamut from white collar office staff to production line employees, and anti-trust laws, as you can imagine, are complicated and highly nuanced. So when we set out to create this course, we knew we needed content that could be easily digested and understood by anyone, no matter their level of education or experience.”
The CCBA’s second challenge was course delivery. “Employees are working on production lines, or they’re out on routes making deliveries. And this all runs 24\7. There isn’t an opportunity for people to simply sit at their desks and take a class. We needed something flexible.” Norton said.
In short, the CCBA needed engaging, easy to understand content that would educate a wide range of employees, and a learning management system that was dynamic, simple to operate, inexpensive and easy to track. But the CCBA wasn’t sure where to turn.
THE SEARCH FOR A SOLUTION
The CCBA first attempted to create training internally; relying on a team of attorney’s to create the course content. What emerged was a 20-page legal document that detailed the legal nuances of anti-trust law.
Mr. Norton explained, “The document was this immensely detailed and complicated legal summary, incredibly difficult to understand, it was obviously not going to work. We needed guys to actually learn this stuff as it practically applied to their jobs. We weren’t trying to put them through Trust Law 101.”
In a second attempt at internal course creation, the CCBA then tried to compile their content from a mix of other previously authored courses and internal materials. This process produced inadequate course content, and the distribution of the content proved to be logistically inefficient and prohibitively expensive.
“The second round of training was distributed on both CD-Rom and online hosted PowerPoint. It was a disaster. Many of the bottlers didn’t have the equipment necessary to give the training – and for the small operations, it was far too expensive to purchase all the equipment. The courses just weren’t getting used,” Mr. Norton said.
Even when the courses were used, results were questionable. “When members did manage to deliver the courses, there was no way to track the results. Sign-in sheets were used but they were constantly being lost and damaged, and in the event that there was ever a law-suit, we had no way to know if people actually watched the class or just skipped through. It was completely untrackable.”
Personal instruction was also not an option. “Members didn’t want their managers wasting valuable time standing in the back of a room reading this incredibly complex twenty page legal document. We needed something that could work on its own.”
After exhausting internal options, the CCBA went looking for a third party solution.
“We had wasted too much time and energy trying to handle the problem ourselves; we knew we needed a partner.” Mr. Norton explained.
Through the Associations internal evaluation process, CCBA management looked at multiple learning management solutions and course creation options. Among the frontrunners were pre-packaged courseware and several custom courseware creators.
“For us, packaged courses just weren’t a fit. They were much too broad and offered little insight into the nuances of our industry. So the prepackaged options were discarded fairly quickly. We did; however, evaluate several custom courseware creators.”
Mr. Norton continued, “The problem for us was most of these ‘custom course creators’ were simply offering to take our legal write up and turn it into slides – for a hefty fee at that. The samples they were showing us were also extremely boring – I’m a lawyer and I couldn’t even stay awake for this stuff. And when it came to the LMS, the programs were neither flexible for our needs, nor simple enough to operate.”
THE INTELLUM SOLUTION
Shortly after beginning their search, the CCBA found Intellum, an Atlanta based provider of SCORM compliant learning management solutions and custom courseware authoring services.
“As soon I explained my dilemmas to the guys [at Intellum], they immediately started coming up with solutions, right there on the spot. They just “got it” right from the beginning.”
Director of Custom Courseware Creation Will Simpson said, “Charles explained that the CCBA needed a way to translate some pretty complicated legalese into easily understandable lessons… and he was adamant that employees would actually learn from these classes. Not just get completion certificates.”
Rob Carter, Intellum’s project manager, came up with a fast solution. He explained that “My idea was to create a live action video, almost like an extended commercial, with minimal text and no static slides. We would combine video with interactive scenarios that would mimic common, real life situations in which employees might find themselves.”
Matt Gilley, Intellum’s CRO, spoke with Mr. Norton about their LMS “Exceed”.
“Charles’s explained the logistical complications, as well as their scalability and user interface concerns. After a brief conversation about the bottler’s operations, I knew we were a fit.”
Matt discovered that all bottling facilities kept at least one basic computer kiosk available to employees for use in viewing schedules, benefits, and other pertinent company communications.
This made distributing the course simple.
“Exceed worked so well for us because the program was easily scalable - it worked with small mom and pop bottlers all the way up to the five thousand person operations. We also liked that the user interface was simple - if the employees could operate a VCR they could work the program. And most importantly for us, the course could be delivered using the bottlers existing equipment while still keeping detailed records of course completions.” Mr. Norton said.
FROM CONTENT TO CUSTOM COURSEWARE WITH NO COMPLICATIONS
“Once we got started with Intellum, the process was painless.” Charles explained, “We handed over our content, and they turned around with storyboards in almost no time.”
Intellum utilizes a carefully designed course creation process to minimize customer time involvement while maximizing course value.
For CCBA, the process started with an information gathering session from which the Intellum team developed their course concepts. Next, a high-level outline was produced and presented to the CCBA for approval.
Mr. Norton joked that, “We had some small creative differences over one of the video concepts – but Matt and his team were very convincing. In the end, they were right, it turned out beautifully.”
12 weeks later, the course was polished and delivered, and uploaded into the “Exceed” LMS
OVER DELIVERED AND UNDER BUDGET
The CCBA’s new course has been an overwhelming success and has been implemented by nearly every Association member.
Mr. Norton raved, “Intellum over delivered, under budget. The video was beautiful, the course was easy to understand, and the price was more than right. In the end, Intellum came in at more than a 30% discount versus the quotes offered by other companies – and none of them were offering to create live action videos or interactive simulations – and it was these elements that were the key to the project’s success. They took an extremely high level concept and made it easy to understand, and believe it or not, pretty entertaining.”
Mr. Norton continued, “And the LMS has made delivering not only our anti-trust classes, but our entire course library simple and basically effortless. Now members just send out emails with employee logins and passwords, and then the entire training program nearly runs on autopilot.”