Training Top 125 Best Practice: Applied Materials’ Applied Global Services (AGS) Academy Program

Each of the seven Academies targets specific, business-related knowledge and skills areas required for the functional area, plus adjacent functional areas.

Manufacturer Applied Materials created Academies to target specific Applied Global Services (AGS) functional groups with the twin goals of improving business outcomes and cross-functional team success. Two Academies currently target approximately 25 percent of AGS employees, with another 25 percent participating cross-functionally. Based on the success of those Academies, Applied Materials launched five additional Academies in 2019.

Program Details

Each Academy targets specific, business-related knowledge and skills areas required for the functional area, plus adjacent functional areas. Once the target audience and scope of the Academy is defined, programs for learning and skills development are created and deployed. Required training is automatically assigned through the Applied learning management system (LMS), while optional training is assigned by the manager. Each Academy has a dedicated SharePoint site with links, tools, information, contacts, and additional resources.

The ADKAR change management approach (developed by Prosci) is ubiquitous throughout Academy development. A common language across the globally dispersed organization sets alignment, expections, and resource allocation. Every training course and experiential project is defined using ADKAR, thus setting the correct expectations for everyone. The goal of the training and the desired ADKAR level are linked. Participants, management, and curriculum designers/developers all unite around a single expectation.

Leaders at the VP level or above provide active sponsorship for each Academy. This includes:

  • Identifying workforce skills and knowledge gaps
  • Defining desired business outcomes
  • Approving the change management approach
  • Assigning subject matter experts (SMEs)
  • Defining time and cost budgets
  • Directing and redirecting as required
  • Designing, developing, marketing, and facilitating training classes

Every Academy learning program includes a video from the executive sponsor communicating his or her support and expectations. Many learning programs include additional executive video messages throughout the content.

Short-term reinforcement includes:

1. Required and optional training assigned and tracked via LMS with montly results presented to management

2. Communities of Practice established for each functional area

3. Key principles, processes, and tools reinforced regularly by direct managers

Long-term reinforcement includes:

1. Tracking specific employee engagement elements through a satisfaction survey

2. Continuously assessing skills requirements, especially for new hires and as new tools are developed

3. Regular communications (e-mails, seminars, videos) that align cross-functional teams

4. Completion of required training tracked on the annual performance review (employee and manager)

5. Blended learning techniques and on-the-job training deployed for optimal outcomes and sensitivity to global requirements

Results

Kirkpatrick Level 3 and 4 results for the two mature Academies include:

1. Service Manager Academy: The critical behavior change sought is ensuring that the “Call Plan” is used to prepare for and summarize 100 percentof customer interactions and ensuring every “Call Plan” is enacted within the customer relationship management (CRM) system.

The Call Plan is a team document used to plan every customer engagement at every level. Service Manager Academy classes give Service managers the mindset and skill set to complete a Call Plan quickly, accurately, and completely, including increasing consulting projects and measuring the quantity of follow-on consulting contracts. Follow-on contracts are more easily attained than new engagement contracts. Demonstrating the ability to increase follow-on contracts is a leading indicator for being able to secure new contracts.

After the core Service Manager Academy classes are completed, every Service manager is held accountable for this critical function. Compliance with this behavior change has increased from 60 percent to more than 95 percent in the last three years.

For Level 4, over four years, sales of comprehensive service agreements have increased 47.85 percent.

2. Technical Consulting Academy: The critical behavior change sought was ensuring consultants complete a signed Statement of Work (SOW) prior to beginning every FabVantage consulting project and that every SOW is enacted accurately and completely within the CRM database.

After core FabVantage Academy classes over the last two years, SOW completion has increased from approximately 60 percent to 100 percent.

For Level 4, over three years, technical consulting engagements have increased from 40 per year to more than 180 per year.

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