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Nancy Feig
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Wachovia Upgrades Training and Reviews With SumTotal

Wachovia cuts costs and improves tracking by bringing employee training in-house.

When Wachovia (Charlotte, N.C.; $504 billion in assets) grew to more than 86,000 employees in 2000, bank executives decided to bring employee training in-house. Previously, the financial institution had relied on multiple outside providers for certification-specific training, relates Dean Williams, Wachovia's chief learning officer. In addition to the cost savings that would be realized from the move, Wachovia wanted to get a better handle on tracking employee compliance training for regulators, he says.

The bank embarked on a search in 2001 for a learning management system (LMS) to replace its legacy system, which essentially was a database that lacked the ability to launch courses, according to Williams. The bank was looking for scalability, technology that would integrate with its Oracle (Redwood Shores, Calif.) server environment, manageable costs and a vendor with long-term viability, he says.

After narrowing the choices down to three vendors, Wachovia selected an LMS solution from Docent (the 2004 merger of Click2learn and Docent formed Mountain View, Calif.-based SumTotal Systems) that could provide both online and in-house training courses, and track employee progress. Wachovia signed a contract with the vendor in February 2002. The bank declines to name the other candidates.

What set SumTotal's TotalLMS training solution apart, Williams says, was its ease of use. "With so many end users, we couldn't train them [how to use the solution], so the system had to be intuitive," he says. In addition, the solution integrated well with Wachovia's infrastructure. "We host the system internally and it had to work with our servers," Williams adds.

Wachovia purchased four Sun Microsystems (Santa Clara, Calif.) SunFire servers to implement the LMS solution -- a Web server and an application server for production, and two replication servers for disaster recovery purposes. The bank went live with the LMS solution in 2003.

But, for compliance reasons, Wachovia wanted an additional performance review and employee training tracking program. It selected an enterprise performance management (EPM) system in early 2001 from SuccessFactors' (San Mateo, Calif.) because of its existing partnership with SumTotal. With information it receives from the LMS, the EPM system outlines employee goals, keeps track of employee training and recommends courses employees should take in the future, Williams says. Evaluations of the classes are done online, along with a knowledge test to see if employees understand what they are taught. The information is available to executives through a Web portal. The bank went live with the integrated LMS and EPM solutions in February 2006.

Now, employees can establish goals with their managers, and the EPM system prompts them to meet and discuss progress. If an employee is struggling to meet certain objectives, the LMS will propose training exercises to beef up the employee's skills. Once employees complete the training, the LMS updates their performance plan in the EPM system.

Since the deployment, the number of bank employees has grown to more than 100,000, and Wachovia has been able to easily deploy and track training -- such as conflict resolution, management and compliance courses -- says Michelle Gasiorowski, Wachovia's learning services manager. Fifty percent of the bank's classes are conducted online.

And by providing training in-house, the bank has saved an estimated $2 million on just two certification programs, Williams adds. But, he points out, "This is not only a cost savings, but a process savings, too."

Learning Management

***Institution: Wachovia (Charlotte, N.C.).

***Assets: $504 billion.

***Business Challenge: Provide and track employee training in-house.

***Solution: SumTotal Systems' (Mountain View, Calif.) TotalLMS learning management system and SuccessFactors' (San Mateo, Calif.) enterprise performance management solution.

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