The task of improving staff efficiency is made easier when solid training is offered to employees. The PROLIX ('Process-oriented learning and information exchange') project, funded under the ' Information Society Technologies' Thematic area of the EU's Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), is currently developing software tools to help identify and plug a wide range of skills gaps. The 4-year project is financed with EUR 7.65 million.
By focusing on what workers and employers want, the 19-strong consortium is aligning people and business processes in diverse working situations. In this way, it hopes to enable organisations to improve the competencies of their workers so that they can adapt to continuously changing business requirements.
One of the central features of PROLIX is its open, integrated reference architecture: a kind of template offering a consistent set of best practices that can be used throughout an organisation. The project's unique reference architecture, currently under development, will analyse business processes and deduce the competencies needed. By so doing, it will help to fuel business-process-oriented learning (the combination of corporate training and business management) and information exchange across Europe.
'Once we have identified what is needed to make businesses faster or more cost-effective, we can then target training and provide a measured learning outcome,' PROLIX coordinator Dr Volker Zimmermann said.
The project partners have developed a methodology to guarantee that the training offered to employees is in harmony with business requirements, and that it will effectively give companies the boost they need.
Most companies typically handle learning management and business-process management as two mutually exclusive activities; the outcome is an imbalance between the needs of a company and the training workers actually get.
Another problem is that human resources managers overseeing employee training often lack key insight into the corporate context in which training is provided. The end result is that the training provided to workers fails to match their business duties, which can change rapidly.
Ultimately, improper alignment between employees' training and business priorities makes businesses lose money.
According to the researchers, a business process analysis must be carried out initially. Software modelling tools enhanced with competency data specific to the business processes are used for this analysis. Companies' process managers and human resources managers supply the required information. The process becomes automated as soon as the data is entered.
PROLIX tools kick into action by conducting a skills-gap analysis, identifying the training the workers need to get the job done efficiently.
Commercial software partners of PROLIX said they plan to continue working together when the project ends. Their main objective will be to commercialise the system or integrate parts of it into products that are currently available.
'As a consortium, we are better placed than our American competitors to link learning solutions into business solutions,' Dr Zimmermann said. 'We think it is a European strength to solve complex issues and integrate our solutions with business solutions, whereas the American vendors tend to develop standalone applications.'