Is your extended enterprise network of channel partners, resellers, and other third parties growing? Has that resulted in product training becoming increasingly difficult to manage? If so, you’re not alone. Anyone who delivers product training content for customers and channel partners as a service is likely to have encountered some familiar headaches around distributing eLearning content.

Many companies are already on board with the idea that using an extended enterprise approach can solve these challenges. According to research from Brandon Hall Group on extended enterprise learning, “extended enterprise audiences are those residing outside the headquarters or specific locations of an organization... such as customers, channel partners, distributors, value-add resellers, and franchisees.”

The challenge is that managing eLearning courses can become complicated when there are several individual client learning management systems (LMSs) involved—and some folks deliver content to hundreds of them. Updating course versions within client LMSs, tracking license compliance, understanding course usage, and carrying out other tasks can take up a huge amount of time and energy.

As Steve Foreman notes in his Guild-published Trends in Learning Technology report, ensuring that clients can use multiple platforms can contribute to your success. Transforming how you manage product training can make a huge difference to your everyday operations. This article will explain how you can move to a much smoother process that provides numerous enhancements and savings.

Managing learning from a clear, single source

Historically, those who manage training content would send each individual course to each client LMS (or other third-party platform). So if you have 20 channel partners, you must keep up with 20 course distribution tasks.

One way to combat the burden of dealing with various distribution points is to manage your training content from a single, central location and simply share access with systems. In my experience, storing all your eLearning content in a central location is by far the most effective solution to implementing extended enterprise and managing training modules.

Imagine all the third-party systems your customers and channel partners use having a direct route to your eLearning, reversing the typical flow of eLearning distribution.

You could think of this as a hub-and-spoke model: the course is the hub and each system is a spoke with the ability to send learners directly to your course. Rather than bringing your content to each learner, this solution allows learners to come to your courses.

Protecting the integrity of your product

Product training is important in ensuring your product is properly used, managed, and sold, but it can be a hassle to manage. Optimizing your content management process allows you to reap the benefits of the product training you offer.

Trying to keep track of which version of a course users are accessing has historically been quite difficult. When training is managed centrally, it removes the risk of outdated courses being accessed and ensures that people have the latest information at their fingertips.

Problems often arise when an end user or partner does not receive the latest version of product training. Effective extended enterprise learning avoids this unwanted predicament by giving you the assurance of having total control over the distribution of resources and learning material.

Getting maximum value from your training investment

With centrally-managed eLearning courses, any changes you make to your content are automatically communicated to your learning network. Whenever you make an update to a course, it is immediately available to every LMS and system in your network.

With this approach, you benefit from the assurance that people are fully informed of new products and the latest product information. This also achieves the crucial result of improving external customer satisfaction.

If you have plans to commercialize your training and certification programs for extended enterprise learners, this approach could also allow you to establish another form of revenue. According to the Brandon Hall Group, 40 percent of organizations are now charging for learning content supplied to non-employees and remote and distributed employees. They found that this extended enterprise approach is allowing one third of the respondents they surveyed to recoup more than half of their LMS costs.

Release, manage, and understand what happens to your training

The ability to send, maintain,, and examine what happens to your product training is crucial. Achieving this across multiple systems can be hugely draining on resources when the tracking process involved is complex and manual. This is why centrally managing your courses and automatically distributing to other platforms is so vital.

At Rustici Software, we’ve seen a great example of this in our work with the SANS Institute, a leading provider of information security training, cyber security certifications, and research. SANS has found it much easier to successfully deliver, track, and update more than a million training modules every week. They do this through a web-based application that lets them centrally host content and seamlessly deliver it to hundreds of LMSs.

From an analytics point of view, the value of centralizing your content comes in having complete visibility of learner activities and training trends. As a provider of eLearning courses, the SANS Institute uses analytics to understand customer trends to help build better training in the future. Now, SANS gains insights like which individual questions learners consistently answer incorrectly or which courses are not regularly used.

With insights like these, you can make better-informed decisions about the direction of future learning programs and the product topics your library might need to focus on next. It’s another compelling reason why your organization should explore the powerful potential of extended enterprise product training.