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Implementation of virtual classrooms at 33 locations worldwide at Bosch Rexroth

How drives and control technology expert Bosch-Rexroth converted the further training of key users of its sales planning software from a one-week classroom event into virtual training.

The customer

Bosch Rexroth AG, one of the world’s leading specialists in drive and control technologies, moves machines and systems of any size. The company bundles global application experience in the market segments of Mobile Applications, Machinery Applications and Engineering, Factory Automation, and Renewable Energies to develop innovative components as well as tailored system solutions and services. Bosch Rexroth offers its customers hydraulics, electric drives and controls, gear technology, and linear motion and assembly technology all from one source.

The challenge

tts was asked to convert the advanced training of key users at Bosch Rexroth from a one-week classroom event into virtual training. The objective was for the 80 sales employees to be able to master the learning material and pass it on just as well as after traditional schooling methods. An important aspect was that the approach should not make any additional demands on the key users’ time.

“For me, the Alpha and Omega in virtual classroom training are the strengths and capabilities of the trainer. These count for even more than they do in presence training in a physical classroom. In addition, it is even more important to maintain the relationship with the participants and to bring this into the sessions. tts offers the expertise and strengths that are necessary to lead these training sessions to success.”

Alexander Ebert, Responsible for Project Rollout at Bosch Rexroth

The solution

Converting the content of classroom training into user-friendly, interesting VC training in just five weeks was a demanding task. It would also be a challenge to motivate 80 participants in 33 locations worldwide to take time out of their day-to-day business on a frequent basis and participate in the training. The outcome was a series of courses with 14 subjects that would be undertaken in 12 sessions. Because the number of participants was limited, altogether 47 sessions took place over 17 weeks.

The implementation

Book your flight, pack your bags, spend a week in Germany. That’s how Key User Week previously looked at Bosch Rexroth, with training for 80 participants from 33 countries. In terms of content, the key users were immersed in special sales training software, Strategic Prognoses Planning (SPP), which they would then be in charge of locally in the national subsidiaries.

Then in 2012 the change took place from traditional classroom training to seminars in the virtual classroom (VC). That was a major challenge for everyone involved, since the same subjects had to be covered. Training is indispensable, as key users act as multipliers, cascading what they learn down to colleagues at their respective local offices.

To start with the participants were sceptical as to whether online training would deliver the same results as classroom training – after all, previously you could concentrate entirely on the latest innovations in the software and applications for a whole week, away from day-to-day business. “It was obviously not feasible to conduct training for a whole week via telephone and in a virtual classroom,” explains Susanne Thiele, Training Consultant at tts. But this is precisely what emerged as a big advantage: “The participants could implement what they learned immediately and in their day-to-day activity.” Questions that first arise within an application could in thus be resolved in the next training session.

Sticking with it is important

The five classroom days were replaced by 12 sessions with 14 subjects, which every employee had to attend. In order to train all 80 key users, 47 sessions were conducted, spread over 17 weeks. This included bundled training blocks as well as breaks from learning for business reasons. All of the training events were organised and conducted via tts. “Participants had to register for the events, as a firm commitment,” emphasises Thiele. Otherwise advanced learning goes off the rails. A further challenge was to motivate the employees again and again, given that the 12 sessions were spread out over time. Depending on the session, the training could last 30, 90 or 120 minutes.

But in contrast to the earlier Key User Week with its linear procedure (arrival, learning, departure, passing on) participants now have the opportunity to look at material, repeat content, exchange ideas with colleague and even, in areas that they have already mastered, to create their own content and hold webinars. But this doesn’t mean that personal relationships suffer, since the participants further cultivate their network contacts.

The Virtual Classroom supports further exchange after training

Participants can arrange to meet at any time in the WebEx Meeting Center and solve tasks together. “A quiz accompanies the entire training process, which increases the motivation to take part,” Thiele says. This was important, since the training events took place on a voluntary basis.

For the organisers this style of advanced training was more complex than classroom training – nevertheless the switch benefited Bosch Rexroth: 85 percent of the target group took part, on average eight individuals per session. “For a voluntary training event that’s a big success,” Thiele stresses. The positive interest is, among other things, leading them back to the collaborative portal room, where the key users communicate with one another and can find all of the documents that are important for their work. The company has thus scored another invaluable advantage on top of the financial savings (travel expenses, working hours, trainer headcount): sustainability.

Survey turns out positive

A survey of the key users showed that 53 percent wanted to continue to do virtual training, while 44 percent delivered a positive judgment, even though they still valued face-to-face events. “The switch to VC training does not mean that classroom training will never take place again,” according to Thiele, “but it can now be conducted in a more precise fashion, and with smaller groups.” tts and Bosch Rexroth were equally pleased that in the survey, not a single person had claimed that online training was pointless and could not replace the Key User Week. A balanced mix of methods is the decisive success factor.

The implementation succeeded rapidly: just five weeks separated the cancellation of the classroom training event at the end of June 2012 and the first VC course at the start of August. By the end of November, all content elements were complete. Meanwhile the big rollout has come to a conclusion and the employees have settled into a kind of routine. “Our customer is noticing a higher level of individual initiative where learning is concerned,” says Thiele. That means: the key users are assuming greater responsibility and proposing subjects. “Admittedly they have not taken over management of the training, but they do know what material they need from us and how they want to use it.”

The benefits

Bosch Rexroth can now conduct professional training directly at the workplace within its IPP project. This increases training success, knowledge transfer and sustained learning. Because the material is available bundled online, all key users have easy access to the content, which they can use to support their end users. The participants thus assume greater responsibility and can share their own experience and content and pose questions online. The company not only saves on travel but also on labour costs, because participants complete the training sessions in less time than they do in classroom training.

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