jPrep is a training company located in Collingwood Ontario, Canada that specializes in helping companies with seasonal hiring cycles train employees to be productive and comply with regulatory requirements from Day One. Most of their clients are in the snow resort industry, with other seasonal businesses like golf courses quickly becoming a larger segment of their customer base. This year jPrep will handle the seasonal training for over 50 snow resorts and 12 golf courses across North America.
Compliance training and associated certification modules are delivered remotely to large populations of employees through jPrep's learning management system (LMS). When snow resorts need to train hundreds of ski instructors, snow making and chair lift operators, and food and beverage workers to be ready when the slopes open – or retrain some employees on chair lift safety after the snow melts and the lifts carry mountain bikers to the summit – they turn to jPrep. It's a great way to efficiently train large groups of new hires as well as returning employees who must all be ready to start work on the same day or within a very limited window. But it wasn't always that easy.
jPrep authors and assembles courseware bundles relevant to a specific job function or department of each employee according to the client's specifications, and then deploys the training remotely. Articulate Storyline is their preferred SCORM-compatible authoring tool. jPrep then monitors and manages the certification progress of each registered employee as they move through the curriculum. jPrep provides comprehensive reporting and certification details on all employees for all clients, with the ultimate goal of achieving 100% completion prior to an employer's class of new hires beginning work.
Angela Gougeon, Founder & President of jPrep, said it best when she said, "you don't know what you don't know when it comes to delivering eLearning solutions". In the early days courses were delivered by email to recipients and required proprietary login processes to track users individually. Reporting was performed manually, with staff entering completion data in Excel spreadsheets. Any customization of training content was also done manually, with changes input and resaved for each individual client and course.
That was sufficient when jPrep had just a few clients and modules. As the company expanded it became clear that the labor intensive processes had to be replaced by automation. jPrep's instructional designer recommended Firmwater and its Learning Management System and a long term relationship was born.
The Firmwater Solution
Today jPrep uses the Firmwater LMS to host all the content it presents to users. The Firmwater LMS uses a hierarchical multitenant architecture where each tenant may also have sub-tenants (called client sites). This allows content providers like jPrep to create branded LMS websites for each of their customers and manage all of them easily through one intuitive interface. The result is that each site reflects the customer's brand and identity, so the trainees and customers feel like the training is unique to their business.
Through a simple point and click process, jPrep loads and assembles selected modules, videos, PDF support documents and study guides into their Firmwater LMS account to build a master course for each job role. The master course(s) is then released to a branded client site and customized by adding or removing relevant training material. Firmwater's presence is largely transparent to the end user. It operates in the background while jPrep gets the visibility and name recognition. This has helped jPrep grow and scale into other summer-focused recreational industries, like golfing.
A key function of the Firmwater LMS for jPrep is the ability to define the characteristics of each client site to match the customer's business needs and identity. Each client site is an independent LMS dedicated to a specific customer with its own branding, course catalog, user community, unique business rules, and more.
Within each client account, jPrep customizes the course to meet the unique requirements of the job role for that customer. This usually involves removing some modules and/or adding specific content about the property and various policies. Each client site can be enriched with support materials such as employee handbooks, safety manuals, operating procedures, terms of employment, and other information new hires will need before starting. Quizzes and testing are built into every course and may be customized to reflect customer-specific content.
jPrep then assigns the appropriate training to each employee based on their job function, location, and/or department. So, for example, ski instructors only get the course(s) required for their role and food service staff only get the course(s) necessary for their jobs. Emails are sent by the LMS directly to employees inviting them to take the training online.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Firmwater LMS allows jPrep to maintain ownership and control over its content with the power to make any necessary changes to a master module once through a single interface, and have the updates cascade down to all client courses automatically – a real time saver.
"Firmwater allows jPrep to maintain ownership and control over its content with the power to make any necessary changes to a master module through a single interface, and have the updates cascade down to all client courses automatically. It's a real time saver."
- Angela Gougeon
Founder & President, jPrep
The partnership with Firmwater has allowed jPrep to evolve their service offering into what it is today and become one of the leading seasonal training firms in Canada.
Before jPrep, snow resorts typically addressed training their seasonal and mostly part-time staff by having one or two in-person training days before the resort opened for the season. While attendance was mandatory, it was impossible to get 100% coverage of all employees using this approach.
The Firmwater LMS changed all this. With jPrep, new and returning employees complete all or most of their training requirements online, at their leisure, and without the time and expense of a mandatory training session. While most snow resorts still conduct on-site employee orientation training before opening, the jPrep solution allows management to change the focus to include interactive team building activities like lift evacuation or first aid training rather than being a day-long lecture.
For compliance purposes, the snow resorts also gain visibility into who was trained and when, and have access to a verifiable database to prove certification in the event of an accident and subsequent investigation by authorities. Other critical business outcomes of jPrep using the Firmwater LMS include:
- The elimination of all manual work associated with delivering, documenting, and tracking learner activities. For example, auto-generated status reports are sent weekly to inform employers of new hire training progress and serve as a permanent historical record of every employee who ever completed the training.
- The LMS allows for easy customization and branding. This allows jPrep to present a unique product to every client that matches their identity – a great selling point.
- Simplified and centralized courseware updating has eliminated redundancy, increased consistency, and saved instructional designer time. This has allowed jPrep to build new training modules such as onboarding and orientation courses that create new revenue streams.
- Support for SCORM-compliant authoring tools allows jPrep instructional designers to continue using their preferred software tools such as Articulate Storyline.
- For resorts with a large percentage of returning employees, jPrep makes re-training less time consuming by using knowledge checks to allow experienced employees to test out of training on subjects they already know well. This helps the resorts retain staff by ensuring returning employees do not have to repeat an entire training program every season. A win/win approach for both employee and employer.
- The ability to store employee handbooks, manuals, forms, announcements, emergency procedures, and other job-specific documentation in PDF form in each portal guarantees that every employee has been provided any necessary documentation. For jPrep customers that require their employees to read and review these materials, the system provides an acknowledgment response feature to confirm that they have done so.
Further, delivering these materials in electronic form has helped clients reduce their environmental footprint and save thousands of dollars in printing expenses.
As jPrep continues to grow and address the more sophisticated training needs of their clients, plans call for the company to become a reseller of content from other developers, such as management and leadership training. The Firmwater LMS will support this integration, enabling jPrep to continue to scale in step with its client base.