ILX Group streams project management training into United Utilities

ILX Group streams project management training into United Utilities

...Blended learning implemented into one of the UKs largest water company...

ILX Group has started to implement a blended learning solution for United Utilities, one of the largest operators of water and wastewater networks in the UK, using e-Learning, workshops and classroom training.  United Utilities provides services to 27 million people worldwide, and employs nearly 9,000 staff.  For a company of this size, coherence is essential and Janice Crompton, Competency Development Manager, CIO (Chief Information Office), United Utilities, called in ILX to help the organisation improve the project management capability of people involved in projects.

Janice explains the challenges faced by the organisation,

"Part of my role is to develop and implement One Framework for Programme and Project Management across United Utilities.  One of our main challenges was the silo culture across the organisation where project managers never talked to each other. The United Utilities goal is to behave as a single Company and that included the need to have a consistent way of doing programmes and projects."

ILX was the natural choice for United Utilities, as Janice was keen to ensure that staff were maximising the results of their courses and had attended an ILX seminar and she said: "I became interested in the interactive e-Learning material.  I haven't found another course run in this way."

In March 2008 ILX launched the APM Introductory Certificate training (Association for Project Management) e-Learning at United Utilities.  Janice decided that she did not want to just train delegates with the two day course, she wanted them to have a wider understanding of the subject matter and bring in real life and company examples.  She also arranged one to one sessions with delegates to address key areas, so by the time they came to the classroom course, delegates had an excellent knowledge base which in turn, increases pass rates, practical application and knowledge retention longer term.

Janice explains in more detail:

"We decided to use the e-Learning but also support this with informal lunchtime sessions where we work with the APM Introductory modules.  During the sessions I introduce United Utilities' experience and also other project management experience, like Terminal 5 and Wembley Stadium.  The attendees have the opportunity to ask questions about the material and discuss their own areas of work."

ILX Group plc delivers the e-Learning over a hosted link and also provided two corporate training CD Roms, which could be used in a workshop environment without internet access.   Anyone unable to attend the course can still benefit as the product has been designed as a stand alone, as well as reference material and the mock exam simulator means that exam preparation is always on tap.  It is a solution that suits the different audiences within United Utilities, says Janice. 

" Not everyone is suited to taking an intensive classroom course without prior knowledge and understanding of the e-Learning. It also allows time to digest the lessons and students can revise topics as many times as they need to until they understand."

Eddie Kilkelly, Managing Director at the ILX Group plc, comments:

"The biggest incentive to learning is being able to access it when the circumstances are right, and the key to ILX's success is supplying products that allow students to learn how, when and where they want. The learning product we provided to United Utilities gives access to training at any time of day, from any location, for however long the student needs it."

It also reports scores and minutes spent in each lesson so that the training administrator can see if certain students are not using the course to its full potential.

Two courses of twelve people so far have been run, and feedback has been very positive. 

"Some people just like the lunchtime sessions as a way of going through the material and then use the on-line course as a back up. They like going through the modules and the examples in the course.  They also like the informal workshops because of the opportunity to meet and talk to others."

The project is completed, and Janice has ambitious plans for the future;

"We'd like to trial this e-Learning for other parts of United Utilities, and there is also talk of a United Utilities Academy being set up, for which this would be useful."

About United Utilities

United Utilities is a FTSE-100 company with an annual turnover of more than £2 billion and employs more than 9,000 people. It provides water, wastewater, gas and electricity services to more than 20 million people in the UK and worldwide. Between 2005 and 2010 it is investing £3.5 billion to improve its infrastructure and environment. Each year United Utilities invest around £3 million in community activity. Every minute it treats 1.3 million litres of wastewater for our UK customers.

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