PUTTING OUR MONEY WHERE OUR MOUTH IS
In October 2020 we put our money where our mouth is and challenged South Africa’s HR community, ±17,500 recipients, to prove us wrong. We asked for anyone to prove that the KMS is not the easiest to use LMS.
During this challenge, which ran until the end of January 2021, not one counterclaim could objectively disprove Skypiom’s ease of use and it therefore stands that Skypiom’s Knowledge Management System is the easiest to use Learning Management System, especially when considering the vast system functionality.
But an easy-to-use system is not where it ends. The entire process, from evaluating to procuring and even to subsequently integrating must be easy, and this is where Skypiom is, again, different.
When we created our Knowledge Management System – billed as the “Sustainable Upskilling Solution” – numerous objectives played a role in defining what the ideal product and related services would look like. Aside from specific features that are responsible for creating benefits for clients choosing to deploy the KMS one core objective was that the entire process, including system functionality, must be easy.
1. EASY TO DO BUSINESS WITH
This is an overarching principle that encompasses everything Skypiom does. It is important to note however, that this principle is applied to our engagement with potential clients long before they commit to deploying Skypiom’s products or making use of Skypiom’s services.
So what exactly does that look like?
We can be reached by all modern forms of communication and we are quick to respond to questions and queries. We also return phone calls and emails timeously.
We make use of different teleconferencing services to achieve a more personal engagement where direct in-person meetings are not practical or possible.
We have clearly defined and documented our engagement process; the document is available to prospective clients to ensure high transparency of the process.
Our engagement process is directed by highly skilled and qualified professionals, adept at finding the most appropriate solution to any challenge.
We have developed many tools and processes to ensure that our clients benefit from recognised best practices well before they engage with us formally.
Making it easy
Wherever something isn’t considered “easy enough” by our clients, we will strive to make it so.
2. EASY TO USE
We have spent a lot of time and effort to make our systems easy to use. While there are plenty more examples that would show why the KMS is easy to use in different areas, please consider the below individual aspects:
All screens are designed to be clear and uncluttered. This is achieved primarily through context-sensitive menus and by only presenting information and options that are relevant at the time. The result is that despite the inherent capability of the KMS platform, its users perceive the KMS as a simple and easy-to-use system.
Unlike the vast majority of traditional LMSs, the KMS does not require the use of specialised course authoring tools. Standard documents like Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, PDF, MP3, MP4, YouTube, Vimeo and ThingLink links may be used. Files are simply uploaded to the KMS and course structures are created online, right from within the KMS.
Assessments are created online, with no need to purchase or learn additional tools. The KMS supports the concept of “Question Banks” whereby all questions relating to a given subject matter are stored within a single question bank. Assessments are then created by defining subsets of questions from the question bank.
Outdated or obsolete course material is easily resolved by the KMS’ built-in course versioning processes whereby a new version of the entire course can be created with a single click.
The KMS again attempts to make life easier by automating some communication aspects and generating reminders where deadlines are approaching, including email notifications.
You will definitely not need a degree in rocket science to request standard or custom reports from the KMS highly flexible and extensive reporting subsystem.
Despite the fact that the KMS is truly easy to use, course authors and system administrators are trained by Skypiom’s support staff upon initial system implementation.
3. EASE OF USE THROUGH PERFORMANCE
At Skypiom, we have been delivering our KMS content through a CDN, or Content Delivery Network, since early 2018. A CDN is simply a large collection of “edge servers” deployed throughout the world, with the aim of having a server close to every internet user anywhere in the world. We make use of Amazon Web Services’ CDN, the same one used by Netflix, which allowed us to demonstrate data delivery (response times) between 5 and 10 times faster through our CDN compared to our normal web servers.
We provide a large degree of redundancy within our deployed hardware architecture. This includes making duplicated servers available in different regions. As a result, the KMS environment can not only withstand individual server failures, but even an entire data centre or region becoming unavailable. The result has been an amazing overall system uptime with no noteworthy downtimes over a period of 4 years. Another reason to see Skypiom’s KMS as “easy to use”.
4. EASY DELIVERABLES
Sometimes, the definition of “easy to use” is hidden within the more complex aspects of a system and its realisation is facilitated through a company’s general operating procedures or even its business model.
Such is the case with Skypiom’s general policy to not charge for the retention of “passive” user data. Let us recall that Skypiom’s fees are based primarily on the number of “active users”, whereby an active user is defined as a user who has accessed the system (or was enrolled into a course) during the last 90 days. It is obvious that over time the number of inactive users will continue to increase, mostly because those users are no longer employees of the company. Without a policy to hold such data at no charge, most companies would elect to purge the data to prevent extra charges from being incurred. By contrast, Skypiom holds full historic data for as long as an active Service Level Agreement remains in place.
What does this have to do with “ease of use”? There are numerous occasions where one may want to report on trends over extended time periods. For the KMS, this is a rather simple exercise as all the required data remains available in the system for reporting and analysis purposes. If the data were no longer available within the system, it may still be possible to produce the required report, albeit by means of a more manual process, whereby different sets of data may have to be obtained from different sources, to be combined in a single trend report. While it is hard to make a general statement as to the extra effort required to produce the “manual” report, such alternative method would in all likelihood not be seen as “easy”.
5. EASY COMPLIANCE
Where compliance may require reports of completed training, the onus is on the training department to deliver the data in the required format. In some cases, the required report format is unique to a specific organisation, a compliance authority or an industry. The KMS allows for custom reporting via its Report Development Kit, making custom reporting – including specifically styled reports – undemanding and easy. Further to this, the KMS fully supports proctoring, making learner authentication easy to manage.
It couldn’t be easier to create highly customised reports for compliance or other purposes.
6. EASY SYSTEM INTEGRATION
Once an organisation has more than a handful of users, managing access permissions for a multitude of systems can become an administrative nightmare. The solution to the problem is what is known as “single-sign-on” integration. This is a technical link between Skypiom’s KMS and a client’s network authentication infrastructure. Once such a link has been established, there is no more need to maintain a list of authorised users on the Skypiom platform. Instead, users are given access based on their existing network login credentials and individual user details such as name, email address and other items are automatically synchronised between the two systems.
Where an organisation is more ambitious and would like to migrate additional data back to its own corporate systems (think completed course information), this too can be achieved through the use of Skypiom’s API (Application Programming Interface). Regardless of your requirements, Skypiom has a team of technical experts who will liaise with your own IT staff to come up with the required integration solution. Just mention your requirements – we will do the rest.
7. EASY RESOLUTION OF SERVICE DIFFICULTIES
No matter how hard we and our clients try, we will never be perfect and there will always be some areas of service difficulty. Besides a telephonic service desk available to all trained company system administrators, the KMS has a built-in module to manage service difficulties. The module, “ASSYST” (Analytical Service System Technology), is available to every KMS user, including all learners.
The system is based on “service tickets” that may be opened by ANY system user, which may be used to describe service difficulties or suggestions for enhancements. A priority may be assigned (and updated) as the ticket progresses through the system.
Most issues will be handled by “Level 1 Support Staff”, which typically is a company administrator within the client company. If unable to resolve, the company administrator may escalate the ticket to Skypiom’s specialist support staff (level 2). In all cases, and for every ticket update, progress is recorded and the ticket owner (the person who created the ticket) is kept updated all along by means of progress emails.
When a support specialist believes that the issue has been resolved, the ticket is “provisionally” closed, pending the confirmation from the ticket owner.
8. EASY TO OBTAIN READY MADE CONTENT
We have incorporated functionality within the KMS that makes procuring third party content extremely easy. In essence, any company on the Skypiom platform can produce content for consumption outside its own organisation. This is a great mechanism to allow specialist content providers to produce industry-specific or generally desired courses.
While we do not see ourself as a major content provider, we do have a catalogue of around 150 Soft Skill courses, available for immediate enrolment. Whether you choose to procure Skypiom’s Soft Skill courses or other third-party courses, the integration of such course material into your training environment couldn’t be easier and you still have control over which staff members within your organisation may enrol into which courses. The actual enrolment process as well as the course consumption is exactly the same as with your own courses. Your learners will see no difference and do not need to get used to different procedures!
9. EASY TO GET ADDITIONAL HELP
As you proceed to future-proof your learning environment by implementing a Skypiom solution, you may find that you need help in different areas. Besides helping with course creation, question bank design and other standard content creation issues, we also offer specialised consulting and managed services. Even highly specialised subjects such as “Corporate Ethnography” are within our scope of expertise. We believe that when the time has come for you to ask for additional help, it will be easy for you to obtain the necessary information on how to proceed.
At Skypiom, the “easy to use” mantra is engrained into everything the company does. Starting with system design criteria which are aimed at specifically implementing certain features for the sole purpose of making the system easy to use, through handling system implementation, training and support, to ultimately being easy to do business with in every aspect, we have come a long way. Still, we are continuously looking for further improvements and hence continue to measure what can be measured and listen to our clients who have first-hand experience in a vast variety of operating circumstances.