Recreating the learning experience at bioMérieux
How do you make something new out of what you already have? How do you recreate the user experience without changing the LMS? How do you give a sense of organisation to digital transformation? Johanna Henry, the Immersive Learning Project & LMS Manager at bioMérieux and Landry Takeu, Manager Customer Success at Cornerstone, answered these questions with a brilliant demonstration at the Learning Technologies show in Paris last May. It’s a tale of a total visual and functional restructuring of the tool in place, unifying the interface while meeting the specific demands of individuals and teams. And it’s been so successful that some people believed the LMS had actually changed!
bioMérieux and Cornerstone’s shared history began in 2017. “At the time, we had no platform to manage e-learning and we were using Excel files to manage training registrations”, recalls Johanna Henry. This gap has since been plugged thanks to the gradual roll-out of the Cornerstone solution. Initially reserved for employees, the Learning Portal was opened up to American customers in 2018, then to other group entities, and finally to distributors in December 2020.
The diagnosis: a valuable in-house learning solution that didn’t read well
Over time, one thing became clear: the learning solution didn’t read well. “At bioMérieux, we have a culture of development, innovation and initiative. Lots of departments were creating learning content and adding it onto the Cornerstone platform.” The result was a whole raft of innovative in-house learning solutions, which were sadly very difficult to navigate! Employees were aware of the problem and it was picked up by the Learning communities at bioMérieux.
“We wanted to do something about it,” says Johanna Henry. And in fact, the opportunity arose two years ago, when, with the support of the Executive Committee, bioMérieux launched a digital transformation programme designed to go hand in glove with organisational changes. The learning teams were structured under the same umbrella. “Until then, each department or space had its own learning manager, but there was no-one responsible for training as a whole.”
The project came together in partnership with Cornerstone. “The aim was to develop the learning space,” explains Landry Takeu “and to look at how the platform could help bioMérieux in its digital and organisational transformation.”
A project based on method, partnership and participation
Right from the outset, the pandemic was another variable to add to the mix and the project began with a series of videoconference workshops during lockdown.
The first thing the bioMérieux project team did was to methodically list all the areas for improvement. “Then, for each area, we asked Cornerstone if they could come up with an answer,” says Johanna Henry. “If the answer was no, we’d then ask the question: Does Cornerstone have any partners who can help? Failing this, do they have any customers with the same problem?” That’s the power of a customer network: it gives you an overview of the market and the problems encountered by other players. “We all like to think we’re unique, but in reality, a lot of our issues are exactly the same!”. It was also the case that Cornerstone might not have the answer to a problem at a given moment, but then it would come to them a few months later.
The project focused on the form as well as organising the content. The aim was to improve the learners' experience by covering all angles: digital architecture, learning design tools, coming up with training courses rather than isolated events promoting memory anchoring, etc.
A pragmatic approach based on innovation
Another factor in the project’s success was the ability to think outside the LMS box. “We were interested in the environments that our colleagues were already using. In this instance, the Bob intranet, born out of a previous digital transformation project, was very popular within the company. We decided to use it as a gateway to the in-house learning solution.” Access to the platform was therefore provided through an interface that everyone already knew and shared. Users – trainers, managers, employees – have a dedicated space including targeted information, direct links to learning, the learning calendar, contacts, tools, explanatory infographics... For example, managers have a direct link to approve learning requests from the team.
Backstage, the pages of the learning platform have been graphically re-designed, just by using the Cornerstone tool’s configuration options. Sometimes, “we’ve hijacked certain features, for instance, using banners for communication campaigns!” Lots of branding work has also been carried out, especially on the portal’s logo, to ensure consistency across the graphics.
One important aspect of the learner experience that’s often neglected is receiving the notifications for the various stages of the learning process. “An advertising agency was given the task of designing the emails so they were visually consistent with the portal. You can switch between the intranet, the portal, your emails, your learning certificate, and always feel like you’re in the same environment, part of the same experience.”
So we’ve achieved our aim: to change learners’ experience while retaining the same platform, by working on the structure, the visuals, the organisation of the platform, the way it’s accessed and how it communicates with stakeholders. “The greatest measure of our success is that the Quality department called us and asked why we’d changed platforms!” Changing the experience without changing the tool: that could be the definition of organisational innovation.
This new version of the platform was launched on 10 January 2022, with the help of in-house communication: all formats have been rolled out – email, videos, articles, newsletters, banners... The next step will be to work on user take-up, while continuing to support the change: the work doesn't stop with the launch.
The bioMérieux example shows how the LMS user experience can be significantly altered at group level without investing in expensive new tools. Digital transformation is above all about transforming the organisation (and its state of mind!). Understanding the needs on the ground and making the most of existing tools are guaranteed to ensure maximum efficiency from a solution.The secret lies in how the project is run: by working in close partnership with Cornerstone and involving stakeholders from the outset, bioMérieux's teams were able to get a sense of rolling out a new tool while staying within its boundaries.