A single LMS for a Group with multiple locations: VINCI case study
Does every entity in a decentralised Group need its own platform? Or does deployment of a single tool make more sense? Companies across all industries have been asking themselves this age-old question since the first time two companies decided to merge. The first consideration is strategic: A single tool promotes streamlining, as well as cohesion within the Group. On the opposite side of the argument, however, are concerns that Group entities may have about losing their specific features, resistance to change, and the complexity of the process. In 2019, VINCI decided to ignore these obstacles by deploying the Cornerstone solution across its seven divisions as part of the Up! 2.0. project. The background to this was explained at the Learning Technologies France event on May 18, 2022 by Corinne Galichere, VINCI Academy Director, and Daniel Lalande, Sales Director France and Francophone Africa at Cornerstone.
Scope and tender
The first step involved scoping the project. The challenge lay in the fact that there are 3,600 legal entities in the VINCI Group, each with their own distinct solutions and with separate training catalogues, functions, and processes. The benefit of having a single solution was obvious in view of the Group’s priorities of bridging different cultures, streamlining processes, updating technologies, and sharing training content. A call for tenders was issued and Cornerstone was announced as the successful bidder in autumn 2019. This would be Cornerstone’s first engagement with VINCI.
The expectations of all business units were taken into account during the careful draughting of the project specifications. “We were able to meet most, but not all, of the requirements communicated by the seven divisions,” relates Daniel Lalande. “We made a point of explaining very clearly what we could and could not do.”
The objective was to “satisfy each of the seven divisions by meeting their own specific functional, organisational, and regulatory requirements,” he continues. “We had to strike a balance between being able to meet the individual needs of each entity while maintaining a consolidated overview of Group-wide operations. Success depended on fulfilling two main conditions. First of all, the solution naturally had to support the wide range of expectations communicated by the various organisations. The Cornerstone solution ticked this box. But the key success factor was the right organisational capabilities, maturity, and sponsorship on the client side to ensure the smooth running of the project. Here too, this was indeed the case.”
At the time of the tender, “each division had a say in the selection process,” recalls Galichere, “from the holding company to each of the business units.” This was important to build LMS (Learning Management System) buy-in among the divisions and to avoid the impression that the new system was dictated solely by the headquarters.
Seven pilots to find one solution
In order to deliver the specific features identified and optimise the preparations for deployment, seven pilot projects were set up — one for each division. “We started by developing the core model with the teams from Cornerstone,” explains Corinne Galichere. “It was a matter of determining as many common requirements as possible that we would be able to channel down to the Group entities.” This task was organised through one workshop per division and four joint workshops.
One entity per division was selected as a pilot project. The core model was then deployed in each of these seven pilot entities. The pilot launch took place in February 2020 — just before the start of the pandemic. The project had to be continued remotely, while still aiming for a July delivery date.
Each divisional pilot entity had an ambassador who brought the solution to the other business units. The solution was not yet finalised at that stage. Corinne Galichere uses a contemporary image to explain the concept of co-ownership: “Imagine we are in an apartment building with a set of common rules. Each of the apartments can be different, with individual decoration and functions suited to the owner’s needs and personal taste. The ambassadors did not show each decorated apartment, but the walls were already up, and the various rooms and kitchen were in place.” The divisions were thus able to shape their plan using a tool which they could subsequently take control of.
The seven divisions validated the pilot five months after the project kick-off. With all of the Group organisations and VINCI’s workforce having been loaded from the pilot stage by means of common middleware, the next step was simply a matter of loading training data for each new entity rollout. Each entity identified the training they would like to migrate to the new system. In July, all the data — including historical data — had been integrated into the solution.
“As soon as we went online, in August, the logins started to add up really quickly. The number reached 25,000 as soon as the following month,” recalls Corinne Galichere. “The go-live is only the start, however — it is just one stage of the journey and not an end in itself. The follow-up task is to ensure that the data continues to move day by day.” VINCI has a workforce of almost 250,000 across 3,600 companies.
A support structure was implemented in parallel. Paradoxically for a project that was deployed at such speed, the consequence of the decentralised deployment is a pyramid-shaped support organisation. Bugs are escalated to each of the entities and from there to the divisions, before finally reaching Group level. Only the holding company deals with Cornerstone. “The quality of the communication with Cornerstone is one of the key success factors,” confirms Corinne Galichere.
What about the results?
On average, around 20,000 people have been logging in each month since the launch just under two years ago. And it’s not always the same users; one third return the following month. Half of the total number of users logged in to the platform at least once in 2021. This is a good success rate considering that more than half of VINCI’s workforce is classified as “blue collar”. Over 12,000 training resources of all kinds — from e-learning modules to conferences and videos — have been integrated into the LMS.
User feedback has been very positive. “We have recorded extremely high satisfaction rates,” comments Daniel Lalande, “despite the fact that projects of this nature generally tend to increase tensions within the organisation.” “In a highly decentralised Group like ours,” Corinne Galichere adds, “achieving such high levels of satisfaction was no easy task.”
One of the benefits of a centralised LMS is the ability to promote the culture of the VINCI Group across the world with in-depth and real-time monitoring of usage. For example, it has become clear that the manual workers make more use of the micro learning content created for them, whereas the “white collars” tend to prefer the videos.
A project of this scale requires huge resources in terms of energy and know-how in order to get it up and running quickly. Following the launch, there can be a big temptation to ease off somewhat, even though this is actually only the starting point. “There were five of us on the project management team at the holding company when we launched the platform in July 2020,” explains Corinne Galichere. “We released two people who had up to now been active in this project, reassigning them to other tasks.” This course had to be corrected subsequently, however, in order to guarantee proper support.
Other aspects that should not be overlooked are change management and the provision of training on how to use the platform. “The scheduling of person-hours post launch is essential.”
Key success factors
The secrets to a successful project with deployment in under eight months can be summarised as follows:
- The business unit teams devoted the necessary time to drawing up an exhaustive list of specifications, ironing out the main problems at the preparatory stage.
- The decision on the solution was arrived at democratically, with each business unit having a say, in order to ensure maximum acceptance.
- Cornerstone was able to present the available choices transparently and accurately.
- The VINCI and Cornerstone teams worked together in a spirit of trust.
- The definition of a core model with a phased approach allowed for speedy implementation.
- The pandemic failed to disrupt the rhythm of the project, with work continuing remotely.
“The key to the success of this project as far as we are concerned is the fact that VINCI is a mature and visionary client. They had the ability to get all the divisions on board with an approach based on unity and respect,” concludes Daniel Lalande. The project demanded a lot of hard work, but above all good chemistry between client and vendor.
It is important to remember that the ultimate objective — the deployment of the LMS — is actually only the starting point to achieve a system that is both comprehensive but also personalised for delivering and monitoring training in a Group that encompasses a diverse range of businesses, and where there are major and constantly evolving challenges in skill development.