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Vicki Gerson
Vicki Gerson
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Online Training Saves Big Bucks

The Cincinnati Insurance Co. turns to Pathlore Software for a Web-based training and information solution.

By embracing online learning, The Cincinnati Insurance Co. (CIC, $14 billion in assets) was able to leverage the Web to deliver better training, especially to its 1,400 remote employees who work out of their homes. Fairfield, Ohio-based CIC, a P&C insurer operating in 31 states, has 2,400 headquarter associates, but no regional offices.

"In the past, we either brought people to Cincinnati to train them, or we'd go into the field," says Mark DesJardins, vice president and director of education and training, The Cincinnati Insurance Co. "There are numerous expenses associated with training on location, such as pulling people out of production, acquiring space, travel, food and lodging."

As CIC rolled out new products and services, its training department - already taxed by efforts to ensure that the company's field personnel completed government-mandated training requirements - was additionally charged with instructing employees on the company's insurance products. "The size of our training staff wasn't increasing, but our workload was," says DesJardins. "So we wanted a system that would cut costs, automate an array of training processes we had in place and boost our ability to offer top-notch courses to our associates."

CIC decided in 2000 to consider online learning. A large list of vendors was eventually whittled down to three. Although CIC did not entertain vendor presentations, three company representatives from the training and IT departments visited and talked with the vendors' current clients.

In 2001, based on value, reputation and the geographic proximity of the vendor, CIC selected the Learning Management System (LMS) software from Pathlore Software Corp. (Columbus, Ohio) to deliver, track and report on training over the Internet. The one-year LMS license for 5,000 users cost approximately $75,000, which did not include the cost of training personnel to use the LMS or the cost of Pathlore's consulting and integration services.

The LMS implementation was completed in August 2001 and required the purchase of two licenses for Crystal Reports 8.5 from Crystal Decisions Inc. (Palo Alto, Calif.) for reporting purposes. Because LMS is a relatively user-friendly program, says DesJardins, CIC only sent the project manager to Pathlore for training; he in turn trained his staff.

A New Beginning

Since implementing LMS, the insurance carrier now offers its employees 150 courses, 90 of which are delivered online. According to CIC, online training has cut the duration of some classes from 12 hours to eight and often eliminates travel expenses for field personnel - all of which saves CIC money. By rolling out a course on commercial general liability policy to employees via LMS, CIC saved more than $100,000, the company says, a 50 percent savings off the cost of delivering the training in person.

Online learning also allows CIC to deliver instructional information to new employees before they are given classroom training. "This gives classroom instructors a way to focus on more complex discussions, while condensing training," explains DesJardins.

Once LMS was installed, CIC discovered a few internal firewall issues and, ultimately, decided to allow Pathlore to host its training records.

Because of LMS, CIC has been able to grow without adding training staff, says DesJardins. "We are developing our own online training, so there is a dollar and cents savings here. We are moving some of the informational topics [for which] we used to purchase books to online topics ... which is a cost savings," he adds. "We have exceeded our goals in both delivering online training and the number of people utilizing it."

In the future, DesJardins may add pre- and post-assessment tests online so employees will be able to "test out" of courses.

Company: The Cincinnati Insurance Co. (a subsidiary of Cincinnati Financial Corp.); Fairfield, Ohio; approximately $14 billion in assets.

Lines of Business: Property & Casualty.

Vendor/Technology: Pathlore Software's (Columbus, Ohio) Learning Management System and Crystal Reports 8.5.

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