From time to time, we like to highlight customers who are experiencing success with their workforce training while using our products, such as our learning management systems (LMS) and online training courses.
In this article, we’re going to look at Westway Feed Products, and their HSE Regional Specialist Amy Myers.
Westway uses our Enterprise learning management system to assign, deliver, and track training and uses a number of different titles from our online training library, including training on topics such as safety, HR, and more.
We’d like to thank Amy for her time in conducting this interview and for the role she played in adopting Convergence for Westway’s training needs. And we’d like to congratulate her on the great work she’s doing, as well as congratulate everyone at Westway for working together to make a safer, more efficient organization.
Read on to learn how Amy, Westway, and the Westway employees have benefited from using Convergence Training products.
Let’s jump right into our recent discussion with Amy Myers of Westway Feed Productsto find out how they’re using the Convergence Enterprise LMS and online courses at their workplace.
Convergence: So, Amy, first of all, what is the name of your company?
Amy: Westway Feed Products.
Convergence: And what does Westway Feed Products do?
Amy: We make liquid animal feed supplements. So, basically we make food for cows, sometimes horses, but mainly cattle, and it’s to supplement the nutrition they don’t get, like in the winter months, when there’s nothing on the ground for them to eat. Our food supplements that, and it gives them the nutrition they need to continue to gain weight.
Convergence: All right. Fantastic. And what’s your own name and job title?
Amy: It’s Amy Myers, and the title is HSE Regional Specialist.
Convergence: Great. And in the big picture, how would you describe your job responsibilities?
Amy: So, just to give you a little bit of background, up until about six weeks ago, I kinda was HSE Systems Administrator, and in that position, I managed all of our systems. So our LMS, our EMS, environmental management systems, I took care of, you know, developing training programs, doing any kind of reporting that we needed for the company, like the OSHA laws, and Tier II reporting, and all that good stuff. Now my role has changed just a little bit. So, you know, I’ll be doing audits and inspections of our sites. I’ll be managing, you know, accidents, injuries, any kind of spill or environmental problem, do inspections and audits of those sites to make sure they’re in compliance.
Now, having said that, I haven’t completely given up my old role, and I won’t. We’ve kind of changed the way that we’re gonna divide those things. So I’ll be managing some of those systems, but just for my sites now. And the other regional managers will be doing them for their own sites.
Convergence: I see. And so in your new role, how would you say that you’re gonna continue being related to training, workforce development and safety training? And how many sites are you responsible for?
Amy: I’m responsible for eight sites in the United States, or I guess I should say North America, because we have a couple in Canada, and I will be developing the actual content now.
Amy: So I will not be administrating the system, but I will now be developing training content, and we’ve hired somebody to take over administrating the system.
Convergence: Oh, wow. So is that person’s sole job is administrating the LMS?
Amy: Yes, and managing a few other systems, such as our EMS.
Convergence: Okay. So your role is changing but you were with the company when they decided, “Oh, we’ve got a training problem, and we’re gonna look to some company,” and it turned out to be Convergence. What were the training problems or challenges that you were trying to solve that ultimately led you to Convergence?
Amy: Awesome, okay, there we go. So we had an LMS prior to Convergence. It was called [competitor name withheld]. And I mean, it functions a lot in the same way as the Convergence does. Right? So we can assign and track training. We could develop content and upload it to [competitor name withheld].
But there were two things that we wanted to get away from, [competitor name withheld] did not update any of their content. And we had them for I think nine years.
So let’s take Fire Extinguisher training, which we do every single year. Guys who have been with us for nine years have seen that same course nine times without any updates or changes. Now, I understand that Fire Extinguisher Training doesn’t change, it’s the same thing. But it doesn’t mean you can’t update your content. You can make it fresher, you know, just change a couple slides, something, so the guys aren’t seeing the exact same thing.
Convergence: That makes sense, yeah.
Amy: So, you know, it was getting very boring, it was getting old. And [competitor name withheld] has been around, I believe, since the late ’80s. They’ve been doing this a long time. And you could tell that they’ve been doing it a long time when you look at their content. It was just pretty stale. It didn’t look like something from the 2000s. There was no video, it was all just pictures, stills. So, you know, it just wasn’t fresh, it wasn’t new, and we wanted something different that would be updated and that would be useful for our guys.
Convergence: Okay. So that’s a solid point. And I think you said there was a second point as well.
Amy: Actually, there’s three. The second one was that [competitor name withheld] was very difficult to develop your own content for. You had to use what’s in their system, you had to enter everything, and there were just so many limitations about what you can enter and how you can place it and all that.
For instance, if you wanted to enter a picture, you had three choices: left, middle, or right, that’s it. You couldn’t scroll down, you couldn’t move it around on the screen. There were no opportunities for any kind of interaction. It was simply make a slide, you know, where you could put a picture and then text. And those were your only options. So we definitely wanted to be able to update our own content, and to make it new and fresh, and our old system didn’t allow to do that.
The third problem was the way that [competitor name withheld] was set up, there was no way to set up, like in Convergence how we have sites and groups, and all the different [sub-divisions of the company’s organizational hierarchy]. There was no way to do that.
In [competitor name withheld], pretty much there were two levels. There was an organization level and a user level and that’s it. So if I wanted to assign…I’ve got total of 25 sites in North America, and I want to assign the sites on the West Coast certain training that only their operators needed, I would have to go pick them out individually and make that assignment.
Whereas in Convergence, I can go and just pick California, operator, done. You know, it’s 1 step instead of 10 or 12 steps. And so as an administrator, [competitor name withheld] was difficult to work within, and that’s why I was looking for something more.
And then I guess I’ll add number four. [competitor name withheld] was expensive. We paid quite a bit more for [competitor name withheld] than we did for Convergence right now.
Convergence: Gotcha. So of those four points, if I could ask you to summarize it, and maybe have you give me a one-sentence recapitulation, how would you say that the old content that never got updated was affecting your workforce?
Amy: Users weren’t engaged.
Convergence: Good answer.
Amy: Because they have seen it before. They did not become engaged for the second time.
Convergence: Number two, you were having trouble building your own content and updating your content. What was the end result of that issue?
Amy: Well, the same kind of thing as the first answer, is we couldn’t update our content that users were engaged. But going beyond that was we couldn’t tailor our content to adult learning and different learning styles.
Convergence: Understood. Next, the inability to assign or report on different parts of your organization and being restricted to selecting an organization or a user, that sounds like it was just creating a lot more clerical work for you and making it harder for you to correctly assign training to different business units, is that right?
Amy: That’s what it was. It wasn’t that it was hard. It was just very time consuming, and time is money.
Convergence: And speaking of money, point four was you were paying more for less.
Amy: Absolutely, yes.
Convergence: Okay, perfect. Thank you for walking me through that.
Amy: No problem. And I’ll just add one more to that last point so you know. [competitor name withheld], I think we had 500 courses with them that they provided. With Convergence we have quite a few less. I wanna say I have 65 courses with Convergence, somewhere close to that. But if I don’t need a course, I don’t wanna pay for it. And that’s what was going on with [competitor name withheld]. Yes, I mean, I was getting more for my money as far as the course content. But I don’t need a course about, you know, DOT transportation issues because we’re not that kind of company.
Convergence: I see. So you’re not paying for courses that are irrelevant to your workforce.
Convergence: Great. So I’m guessing maybe you were involved in the search for your safety training provider. Do you know how you’ve learned about Convergence Training and what it was about our product that made you guys go, “Yes, that’s the one we want” This is a company I wanna partner with”?
Amy: I did look at the graphics that you guys have and the way the courses were laid out, the way they were presented within the screen. That was very important to me. You know, we have…some of our workforce is younger and so we wanna cater to that, we wanted to be something that they wanna go to and it’ll keep their eyes on the screen. So that was part of it.
Also, I have a service background, so service is very important to me. And during my search, your salesmen Scott Rise and Brian Andrewjeski came to visit me, and that really impressed me. They contacted me, said they’d be in the area, and asked if I’d have time to meet up. And after the fact, I found out that they were actually in Dallas that day. They drove down to my office in Tomball (near Houston, TX), and then drove back to Dallas after they left. I don’t know if you’ve ever been down to Texas, but Dallas to Houston is like four, four and a half hours.
I kind of thought, “You know what? If they’re willing to do, well, then maybe they’re willing to back it up with their service.”
Interviewer: Speaking of, what’s been your experience working with us after the sale was done in terms of contact with our trainer and contact with our support, has that been equally positive for you?
Amy: I’ve spoken to Linda, in your customer service department, lots of times. And she is a great ambassador, I have to tell you, for your company. I have to tell you, honestly, she hasn’t been able to solve all of my problems, but in cases when she may not know how to do a couple of things on the first call but she always gets back to you.
Convergence: Well, there’s a lot to be said for that.
Amy: What’s important, right? I don’t need you to solve it right this second, but I need it solved, one way or the other. So she doesn’t let them hang. She does get back to me and with an answer. It’s not always the answer I want to hear, but she gets back to me with an answer. So that’s really, really important to me. It’s also pretty important that when I call, somebody answers the phone. And I have found that somebody answers the phone I think every time I’ve ever called. I don’t think I’ve had to leave a message. So that’s good.
Convergence: All right, great. Then going back to the original four issues that you identified with you old system, have we helped? So it sounds like people like the content and have responded positively to it. Do you have more engaged training workforce now?
Amy: Absolutely. I can say that without a doubt. And Convergence was kind of…well, it was my baby. I was the one that pushed for it, I’m the one who even said to begin with, “I don’t like this system, I want a new system.” And then I’m the one that kind of got behind and picked Convergence and then said, “Let’s go for it,” convinced the others to do it.
There were couple other LMSs that we looked at that were cheaper, that we could’ve gotten for less money. But I wanted Convergence. That was from everything that I saw, I thought it would fit best for us. So it’s been my baby. And I want to make sure it’s been working out. So I’ve spent the last eight weeks, at least, traveling. And everywhere I go, I’m like, “Hey, how do you all like Convergence? What do you think of the new system?” And every response has been positive so far. So I’m really happy to hear that because otherwise my boss would not be happy.
Convergence: Well, you know, we’re happy to hear that as well, but personally I’m happy to hear that for you, since you kind of put your shoulder behind it and pushed the rock. I’m glad to hear that it worked out. So have you been using it to update your own training materials in a way that you wanted to?
Amy: We have. I think I have actually talked to you about Articulate.
Convergence: Oh, yeah, that’s right, I remember that!
Amy: Yeah. I think you actually kind of took me through that back in April. And honestly, we wouldn’t have gone with Convergence without Articulate. It would not have happened. And without you kind of talking me through Articulate, we wouldn’t have gone with Articulate. So you had a part in it too. But we’ve been using the Articulate system to update our own training because it’s basically PowerPoint, right?
Convergence: Yeah, very similar.
Amy: And you can do…anything you can do in PowerPoint, you can put in there and then it’ll transform it or do whatever it does to make it into SCORM where we can put it into Convergence LMS. So we’ve only done maybe, say, three, four course updates of our own. But we have plans to do probably another 20 before the end of next year.
Convergence: Well, good. I’m glad that other tool’s working for you and it’s working with our LMS. Are you already using the ability to assign to different parts of your org structure instead of merely to the entire organization and/or an user?
Amy: Oh yeah. We do training on a monthly schedule. We do more than monthly. We do a new hire, we do monthly. But the monthly one is where you really see the difference because it used to take between 30 and 40 minutes to assign monthly training. Now it takes between three and four minutes.
And I mean, I know it kind of sound like I’m making that up, but it’s actually true. I’ve timed it, you know, and it’s never taken me more than four minutes to assign my monthly training.
Convergence: It did not sound fictitious. And I guess if you extrapolate that over one year with the old system, that’s more than six hours a year just making training assignments.
Amy: Absolutely. And then if you look at our new hire training, the difference is not as dramatic but, you know, you take…it probably takes a good 10 minutes. So it used to take me about an hour and 15 minutes to assign new hire training. And now it takes about an hour per person. So you know, imagine each person that I hire, I’m shaving 15 minutes off of just a clerical chore. It’s nice.
Convergence: Are seeing similar payoffs in time reduction when it comes to running reports on those different units as well?
Amy: Only to a small degree, but only because I don’t tend to do a lot of reporting like that. Those are reports that our terminal managers use. So they’re seeing time savings there, not me.
Convergence: It sounds like what we’ve done is allowed the ability for somebody else to run those site level reports. They probably would not have been available with your old system or would have been more time consuming.
Amy: Yeah, I don’t even think they were available with the old system, to be honest with you.
Convergence: Got you. So what kind of training, either now or in the future, are you planning to use for Convergence: safety, job specific, HR? What’s in the plans there?
Plus, right now, we’ve kind of got a push but we’re gonna be doing some more Quality training.
We’ve kind of got a push to be doing some more quality stuff in Convergence. We have to comply with FDA laws because even though it’s not food for humans, it’s foods for cows and people eat cows. So we have to comply with those laws. So the FDA has some new rules out that just came out this year for food safety, and we need to get that training out and available to people. So we’ve already started, we’ve used Convergence for a couple of them. And next year, we’ll be doing even more with Convergence for quality. The same type of thing, they’ll be, you know, eLearning courses and then quite a few document acknowledgment type thing.
And we already use it for HR. As soon as we started Convergence and HR found out what it could do, we started using that for mainly new hires, for document acknowledgment.
Convergence: Yep, understood.
Convergence: If there was one thing right off the top of your head that you’re most satisfied or most proud of that you’ve done with a help of Convergence tools, what would that be?
Amy: Oh, wow. I don’t know, that’s a hard one. The one thing that I’m most satisfied with? I guess, from an administrative perspective, it’s gotta be the time/cost savings.
Convergence: That’s fair enough.
Amy: But I mean, yeah, I mean time really is money. Right? So we’re saving…somebody now doesn’t have to go spend all that time to assign training, to track training that we were doing before. In our old system, we had no way to track tasks. We could only track eLearning courses, that’s it. Now, with Convergence, we actually use it track tasks.
Convergence: Oh, great, great.
Amy: I mean, we use it to track that, we use it to track offsite classroom type training. You know, we have people that get different types of certifications, so we can now use Convergence to track those for us.
Convergence: Yeah. And it sounds like you could not with your old system as well, is that correct?
Amy: Correct, yeah. The only thing our old system tracked was eLearning courses, that’s it.
Convergence: Oh, wow, yeah.
Has Convergence had some kind of positive effect on something that you did not anticipate, and when you look back, you say like, “Hey, you know that helped with that thing, I never expected that”?
Amy: Well, probably the tasklists. Well, let me go back. Not just the tasks but our new hire tasks.
When we get a new hire in, we have not only eLearning courses for them to do but a whole list of other things for them to do. And it may be something like, “Go find your facility’s fire prevention plans and review it.” It may be, “Locate all the fire extinguishers in your work area. Locate your safety showers.” Those are things we want every new hire to do before they start working.
And we used to do that literally on a piece of paper, a checklist on a piece of paper. And nobody does checklist on piece of papers anymore. So Convergence has allowed us to now track, and we honestly weren’t planning to do that. We were planning to keep that checklist because when I got Convergence, I didn’t even think about that as an option. It wasn’t until after I did the LMS admin training with Convergence that I was like, “Hey, this will work.” And we set it all up at that time. So that’s been the one thing that I didn’t anticipate that we actually have gotten quite a bit of use out of.
Convergence: That’s a good story. So task training for new employees but also a task training in general. And am I correct that you’re doing that through the tool that we call the tasklist, so it’s all digitized and people can check themselves off?
Amy: Absolutely, yeah. And we currently do dual checkoffs. But as a matter of fact, I think that’s always done so far is dual checkoff.
Amy: But we have the possibility out there to manager-only or employee-only checkoff, and I can see where those could be used on other things in the future.
Convergence: What’s your next big goal for the use of the LMS courses, what’s the next hurdle you’re hoping to jump?
Amy: It’s a long way out. First, I have to update our content, and I know that’s not really LMS thing, that’s more of an internal thing. But updating our content is our number one priority. And that’s our next big goal, is to update all of our content. After that, I want to use it for more tasks than we’re doing right now. I want to get to the point where when a manager has a safety meeting at a site, they’re doing it in Convergence rather than on a piece of paper where employees sign in and then they fax me that sheet of paper. Because that’s the system right now is they sign in on a sheet paper and I get faxed that sheet of paper, and I have to track it like that. And I want to get it to where we put it Convergence, so manager just does a checkoff, or a class, or whatever we decide to do with it, and everything’s tracked electronically with no pieces of paper.
Convergence: That’s a good goal. I think I’ve got two more questions for you. One is going back to something you mentioned earlier about the FDA and quality training, and how you have new training requirements that have been put upon you. Is that for training requirements that didn’t exist before, or have they just been modified, or increased?
Amy: They’ve been increased, and significantly increased.
Convergence: I see.
Amy: The FDA passed something called the Food Safety Modernization Act. And that’s the driver for all this new training. There was a basic training before, but it was actually…it wasn’t required by the government. It was required for you to get what’s called the safety certificate which you could have an offsite company come in and do for you. But the government didn’t require it. Now the government’s requiring it, so we’ve had to increase all of our quality training.
Convergence: Interesting. And then from the administrator perspective, for you and other LMS administrators, and the learner experience, the average employee, what has your experience been in terms of ease of use and things like that?
Amy: Ease of use for administrators?
Amy: It’s intuitive. We find that it’s intuitive. Right? So if you look at it and you know want a report, well, there’s a thing that says Reports, and then you can kind of look at the names and reports, and you can figure out what report you’re looking for.
The whole system as a whole is more intuitive than our old system, for sure. And so even if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, you can kind of figure it out where you need to be. And from my perspective, that’s nice, because I do have 25 different people as managers using this, but then I also have probably another 10, 15 upper level senior managers that want to be able to go into Convergence and look into what’s going on. So I have a lot of people that I have to manage who also want to manage the different items within Convergence.
Convergence: And what about your average employee? Has their experience been positive just in terms of login in, taking training, completing training, and so on?
Amy: I’m hearing from them, they like it. You know, you’ve got four buttons for them to choose from, right? You’ve got Next, Lunch I think, and then Next, Last, Menu, and End, that’s it, or Exit. So, you know, like I said, I’ve heard good things, everybody’s been positive about it. And the number of people I’ve had calling me for questions has gone way down. I’m the only person at the company listed for LMS questions. I probably had the same number of people call me about Convergence in the last six months as called me on average two-month span with my old system.
Convergence: Wow. So cut your calls down by roughly…down to 33% of the previous call level?
Amy: There you go. I’m glad you can do that math! No, but it’s absolutely true, yeah. I get less calls which is less headaches for me to deal with. And all the calls before were relatively simple to handle. You know, same kind of thing, this browser didn’t support it, or Internet Explorer updated so now it doesn’t work, or whatever. But I get a lot less of them. So I’m guessing, you know, maybe…I don’t know what the reason is. Maybe Convergence works better with Explorer than our old one, I don’t know.
Convergence: Well, that’s interesting. I’ll end up by asking if you have any final thoughts or comments.
Amy: I wanna just say to please pass on to somebody that Linda has been fabulous to work with. You know, I do have a history of customer service, that was my old background before I got into safety. So I know good customer service when I see it. And she provides great service. So kudos to her, if you can put that out to anybody who matters, that would be great for her to hear it because she does do a great job of taking care of us when we do call. It hasn’t been a lot but, you know, I don’t call until I’ve tried to figure out on my own. And then she gets in there and works with me and figures it out for me.
Convergence: Well, that’s nice of you to point that out. I will make sure that she gets the credit she deserves.
Amy: Thank you. Yeah. I mean, they need to hear it because she does a good job for us. And I don’t what you pay her but it’s probably not enough.
Convergence: I’ll let them know that as well. Well, thank you very much, Amy. Enjoy your day.
That’s all for this customer success story. We’d like to thank Amy and Westway once again for everything they’re doing.
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