UAP INC. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Genuine Parts Company (GPC). With a focus on fast and efficient service, UAP has grown to become Canada’s largest automotive aftermarket solution provider with annual sales of nearly $800 million and over 4,000 employees.
Due to a number of increasingly complex technological changes, particularly in the car repair sector, UAP’s senior management decided to introduce training as a new line of business in 2007.
To efficiently meet the training needs of a Canada-wide, geographically dispersed employee and client base, UAP made a strategic decision to offer online training through its NAPA Excellence online Training Centre. Employees and customers across the country were given instant access to hundreds of online technical and management training sessions available 24/7.
The backbone of the training solution and online delivery strategy was a Learning Management System (LMS). After two years of use, it became clear the system lacked the functionality to deliver the personalized, flexible, state-of-the-art online training that UAP customers wanted. “We outgrew the LMS very quickly,” admits Nathalie Gareau, Training & Workforce Development Director at UAP.
Key problems with the initial LMS involved lack of functionality, complexity of the system and a poor quality end user experience. “The system was slow, rigid, and complicated for learners to use,” confirms Gareau. Getting service and support from the original LMS vendor also proved to be costly and slow. As a result, rate of adoption by UAP’s learning customers proved to be much lower than originally anticipated. “We felt like we were stuck,” confesses Gareau.
These issues with the initial LMS forced UAP to rethink its learning management solution. The vision held by UAP was to provide up-to-date, quality courses on the maintenance and repair of vehicles. Training would be available 24/7 with hundreds of courses being added every month. UAP’s customers would benefit from having highly qualified, well-trained, motivated employees who were always up-to-date.
Despite the ‘pain’ of switching, UAP made the bold decision to replace their existing LMS. “We needed a less complex, more complete LMS that would support our business vision and provide the best user experience that was possible,” says Gareau.
Any LMS is an important investment in time and money. As such, UAP went through a rigorous planning process that involved members in HR, training and IT. They began by defining their short-term and long-term goals, drawing the list of their needs/problems, and identifying requirements for selecting a new LMS solution.
Key requirements of a new LMS included:
The project team created a business case to justify the initiative and get early and constant support from senior management and key stakeholders.
During the selection process, UAP reviewed six LMS vendor proposals. The process involved several meetings, demonstrations of each system’s features and functionality, and in-depth discussions to confirm how vendors supported their systems. Following an extensive 6-month review, UAP selected Peoplefluent.
UAP had acquired considerable knowledge and valuable experience with its first LMS implementation. What UAP needed above all was a LMS solution partner that could provide a system with the right functionality – and of equal importance – a proven process to leverage the organization’s collective experience while ensuring a well-planned, smooth transition with minimal disruption.
Gareau comments on the importance of the relationship UAP was looking for in a new LMS vendor and why UAP selected Peoplefluent. “Given the volume and the complexity of our LMS transition project it was critical for UAP to have a partnership-like relationship,” says Gareau. “We wanted a reliable LMS vendor to support us in a very personalized way and enable us to quickly transition to a new system in the shortest time possible. We found exactly what we needed with Peoplefluent.”
The Peoplefluent solution included all features and functionality required by UAP – plus an implementation plan that anticipated all aspects of a new LMS deployment.
Discovery and training sessions were done in an incremental approach to ensure that UAP Training team had enough time to practice and familiarize themselves with the system prior to Go-live. During these in-depth sessions, UAP actively shared their specific processes and requirements with the Peoplefluent consultants, and together they determined the optimal way for UAP to use the system.
“The Peoplefluent LMS solution actually offered much more functionality than we needed at the time of implementation,” comments Gareau. “The solution included skills and competency training, certification management, and e-commerce capabilities.” Gareau says UAP didn’t need these features out-of-the-starting-blocks. “We deactivated the features simply by switching them “Off” which makes them invisible to users,” she says.
Having this flexibility enabled UAP to quickly configure the Peoplefluent LMS solution to meet the specific needs of their administrators and learners. Users only saw the functionality that they needed to use immediately. “If and when needed, UAP can easily activate the functionality,” says Gareau.
In addition to getting a robust LMS, UAP selected Peoplefluent because it offered services in a highly personalized and comprehensive way. “They really partner with their customers,” confirms Gareau. “They made it as easy as possible for UAP to transition to a new LMS that was up and running with the functionality we needed in the shortest time possible.”
Peoplefluent implemented the new LMS solution with UAP over a three-month period. The project began mid-February 2011 and culminated with a “Go-Live” date in May 2011.
Gareau says that because UAP had a strict cut-off date – when the old system would stop working – they found it useful to do as much of the conversion work as possible in advance. For example, UAP loaded all departments and courses (structure and data) before going live.
While this involved some extra work during the last weeks before the cut-off date –with parallel maintenance required on both systems – it was well worth the effort. “We were able to test the conversion and make sure that the new system was set-up correctly (security, interfaces, forms, reports, notifications, etc.) and ready to go-live,” comments Gareau. “All that was left to do before the go-live date was the conversion of user and historical data,” she adds.
To avoid any disruption of service, Peoplefluent conducted the final conversion with UAP during a weekend. One person was assigned to perform the data conversion for User data and Historical data. “Everything was in place and ready to go the following Monday morning,” confirms Gareau.
“The entire implementation went very smoothly,” acknowledges Gareau. “It was a wellplanned, manageable process and we emerged from it with a high level of expertise that enables us to be at ease and completely autonomous in the use of our new system.”
UAP realized immediate quantitative and qualitative benefits from ROI from switching to the PeopleFluent LMS – beginning with reduced operating costs. “Our costs of owning and operating an LMS have decreased by 30% in the first year,” confirms Gareau.
Moreover, UAP has realized a number of equally impressive qualitative benefits by switching. “We can now plan with complete confidence,” says Gareau. “And we are now building a strong learning culture – within our company and with associates, partners, and clients- by offering a dynamic and highly intuitive learning environment”.
To make the point, Gareau says that UAP was able to more easily and quickly provide fresh learning content. “With our new [Peoplefluent] LMS system, we’ve been able to dramatically increase our course offering,” says Gareau. “We now offer over 1000 courses in French and English on car repair and maintenance, software training, employee onboarding, health and safety, customer service, as well the full Skillsoft Business collection course library.”
Gareau also reports that the Peoplefluent LMS solution gives UAP a much higher level of autonomy with much less dependence on vendor support. “We’re able to move fast and evolve quickly with the new system, whether it concerns creating our own reports, customizing email notifications, customizing the interfaces and flows, etc. And when we need something specific, the Peoplefluent team provides fast and responsive assistance.”
Another measure of success is feedback from end learners. “We’ve had great feedback from the field,” confirms Gareau. “Our learners find it very easy to browse course offerings and find what they are looking for. The system is very fast – and it looks great!” she says. Above all; usage has increased significantly in terms of the number of users and training content that is now ‘consumed.’
UAP has realized immediate cost savings and numerous qualitative benefits for making the switch to a new LMS. In addition, Peoplefluent has equipped UAP with a flexible, state-ofthe- art LMS with features and functionality that can simply be turned ‘On’ as UAP’s learning and business goals change.
“We have an ambitious training strategy for the next few years,” comments Gareau. “And we’re confident that with the Peoplefluent LMS solution and support, we have what we need to make it happen!” To punctuate this, UAP is currently adding e-commerce functionality to enable non-members to view and buy courses. It will also soon manage and track learning paths with mandatory training.
“We’re planning to provide and manage full blended training programs on leadership and management that will include classroom, e-learning, virtual classroom and coaching.” UAP’s plan also includes managing competency-based training, adding online surveys, providing flexible pricing options – and more. One thing is certain: UAP now has a forward looking LMS to make their training vision a reality today, and in the future.