Options for Security Education: ‘Go to’ the Vendor eLearning Program

As part of a longer article in the March issue of Security Dealer & Integrator called ‘Security Education: 3 Ways to Keep your Technicians Trained and Certified‘, one of the options includes the flexibility and efficiency of online eLearning modules to improve on-the-job performance. Milestone’s Greg Willmarth, Director of Learning & Performance, was interviewed:

The video surveillance industry has undergone a significant change over the past several years, as technology has migrated from analog to digital. As such, the need for security dealers and integrators to learn the intricacies of that new technology was vast.

Milestone Systems launched its IP video training program in 2004 with two main goals: to drive sales by increasing the channel’s knowledge of its VMS products, and to increase customer satisfaction by ensuring integration partners had the knowledge to design and install solutions based on Milestone technology. However, despite high acceptance and participation in the initial training program, there was a disturbing overall rise in the number of technical support calls to the company, especially in the U.S., and channel partners were providing negative feedback about the quality of the training.

As the market grew and matured, Milestone realized it needed to transform its training and certification program into one centered on delivering expertise as opposed to classroom attendance. To meet this challenge, the Learning & Performance Program at Milestone was born – and it has evolved over recent years to include a vital eLearning component. Training activities focus on learning the skills needed by role and job function in designing, installing, configuring, operating, troubleshooting and maintaining a company’s XProtect video management software.

Sessions are now available in easy modules, online or in-person, self-paced or scheduled, with or without an instructor. Certifications are completed separately from training, and they are actually required every two years for Milestone partners selling the more advanced XProtect portfolio offerings.

Milestone certifications are a brand promise to our customers regarding the knowledge and skill of any individual partner . The Learning & Development Program is centered on proven, relevant expertise as opposed to one-size-fits-all classroom attendance with a paper-based, multiple-choice test. – Greg Willmarth, Director of Learning & Performance, Milestone Systems

With the new training and certification offering, Milestone made several fundamental changes to the structure of the program. First, it separated training (skill development) from certifications (proving expertise), and today participation in a training class is not a guarantee of certification. The certification assessments are no longer given in class, but instead taken online. Attending a class is no longer required to pass a certification assessment: learners can develop skills in a variety of ways, including in classes, on the job, or through a library of eLearning options.

We have had a number of our team use this tool, and we were able to learn the products without expending a great deal of valuable resources and time. – Micheal Saltzgiver, President of HEI Security

Another fundamental change is the addition of a new design certification program, added to the two levels of technical installation certifications. During analysis when creating the new certification program, it became apparent that gaps in system design skills were often the root cause of technical support issues. The new design class was developed with a corresponding certification assessment.

The Learning & Performance team worked with a host of internal stakeholders, subject matter experts, and external partners, to specify in detail, the knowledge skills required of a designer and technician (at two skill levels). Master competencies were identified and broken down into sub-competencies.

Role-based training builds knowledge and skills that better transfer into on-the-job performance, and the certification assessments allow partners to prove their expertise and differentiate themselves from the competition. – Greg Willmarth

With the documentation of the required job competencies completed, the team created the online certification assessments using a variety of question styles including scenario-based questions and software simulations. The certification assessments can also serve in building knowledge. When an assessment is not successfully passed, feedback is given to the learner outlining which competencies they have mastered and where further study is needed.

Finally, to provide visibility into the impact of an untrained partner, Partner Expertise dashboards were developed. The dashboards pull together data regarding training and certification completions and technical support calls. Available on computers or mobile devices, these dashboards are very useful to identify individuals in need of additional training.

While it is still too early to see the full impact of the new program, the results after the first 12 months of operation include more than 2,000 certifications passed in 77 different countries and 11 different languages. The frequency of support calls per installation dropped by 20 percent in the U.S. (which has the highest number of new certifications) in 2016, and the results from an annual survey indicate that partners now view the training and certification program as innovative and a competitive advantage.

eLearning has become an even more popular training delivery format than instructor-led classes, which allows us to cost-effectively expand our global reach. We will continue to expand our eLearning catalog, and are looking at new ways to grow expertise and support job performance globally. – Greg Willmarth

Read the full article by Paul Rothman, Editor SD&I, to learn about other options for education in the security sector.