What exactly is the extended enterprise? Anybody outside of your company who has the ability to affect your organization’s bottom line. This can include channel distribution partners, dealers, franchisees, resellers, contractors and customers.
It is very important to acknowledge these people because they all either sell, represent or use your product in some way. Those businesses that understand this will likely increase their competitiveness in the marketplace.
Educating partners about your product and services provides the much needed support that will contribute to increase sales. It also promotes a good experience with your product and increases the likelihood of repurchase. And lastly, additional profits are a result of providing continuing education certification.
By adding extended enterprise training, companies can expect increased customer satisfaction and less customer support needed. Being able to reuse learning material keeps training costs low and eliminates travel and instructor costs. And, of course, the costs associated with compliance risk are much lower.
Having a good training protocol for the extended enterprise shortens the timeframe for new product rollouts, expansion into global areas, ramping up external sales and onboarding new customers.
The extended enterprise has specific training needs that include product support, certification and other forms of learning. A traditional learning management system is used most often for internal employees but doesn’t always play nice and allow outsiders to access the system. One option that is often overlooked is SharePoint, a Microsoft-based software solution for collaboration and content management.
Here are a few features that are important for a successful extended enterprise training program and how SharePoint can help:
External training is completely by choice, so having an interface that is easy to use is critical. External customers need to be able to find the content they need in a timely manner. Microsoft SharePoint is incredibly intuitive, however the latest version has made major improvements when it comes to a more consumerized experience – from new social and search capabilities to deeper integration with other Microsoft platforms.
Linking external training efforts to a CRM is very important to keep strong relationships. Customer engagement with Microsoft Dynamics CRM helps companies deliver remarkable customer experiences. And, with improved integration with SharePoint, it’s now feasible to store and manage documents on SharePoint in the context of a Microsoft Dynamics CRM record, and use the SharePoint document management abilities in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, such as checking the document in and out, viewing version history and changing document properties.
Most external clients will request their own branded, private portals that only they have access to. External portals for collaborating in SharePoint provide an ideal way to customize. With forms-based authentication, it certifies that only specified users have admission to the training site and provides the same breadth of functionality that internal users have. This includes branded informational content, personalized content and views based on user profiles, collaborative content which can include documents, lists, libraries, etc., and document repositories.
SharePoint offers the ability to group users by job role which makes this feature a must-have for any great extended enterprise training program. Almost any list or library in SharePoint can be targeted to specific audiences. An audience can be identified SharePoint groups, distribution lists, security groups and global audiences.
A vibrant community for social learning costs nothing but creates a profound effect. The latest version of SharePoint has social learning capabilities with MySites, team and community sites, newsfeeds, wikis and blogs.
SharePoint community sites provide game-like circumstances by encouraging and rewarding members for participating. The more they are involved the more reputation points they earn for posting, replying, and receiving likes and best answers.
Since extended enterprise training is optional, it is important to offer classes that work for your audience. SharePoint 2013 offers better viewing capabilities across various mobile platforms and the 2016 version also has an improved user experience. Accessing information while on the go is crucial for workers. SharePoint Server 2016 will provide better mobile access to content, people and applications along with touch-based experiences across devices and screen sizes.