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HR Problem Solver: Allegro University

This article accompanies HR Problem Solvers for 2010 .

Sunday, August 1, 2010
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For Allegro Development, 2009 was the year to make a big training push for its employees -- but, in the middle of the worst economic downturn in generations, keeping costs down was of utmost importance.

After third-party vendors quoted prices anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million to set up a training program, the Dallas-based energy and risk-management consultancy decided to create an in-house training component called Allegro University. Its own employees, who are subject-matter experts in specific areas, shot their own training videos that were then made available to the company's 250 employees in Dallas, Houston, Calgary, London, Zurich and Singapore via the Internet.

Many of the 100 training videos also come with exercises in which employees can answer questions and work out problems using what they've learned.

"We now have an on-demand, self-paced type of training," says Kevin Cox, director of education at Allegro. "And it's hands-on; you're not just watching a PowerPoint presentation."

Best of all, the program cost a mere $15,000 to launch because it was developed in-house. The largest obstacle was honing trainers on-air skills and talents. So HR helped them work on scripts and edited out many of the uhs and ums.

"For many of our subject-matter experts, we would need to book them months in advance for a training course," says Cox. "Now, they're available 24/7."

With classes in such topics as risk management, derivatives, sales training or even welcoming new hires, employees can gain certifications in eight tracks after passing exams. Allegro is even selling its educational program to existing customers and estimates $50,000 in revenue in 2010.

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The new income stream as well as the cost savings, quality and results -- 96 percent of students say they'd recommend a course to others and 94 percent of new hires say the course is relevant to their jobs -- was plenty of evidence for our editors to name it as an HR Problem Solver for 2010.

Prior to the program's implementation, all new hires were trained in Dallas for their first three to four weeks -- even employees from overseas, says Adrianne Court, vice president of HR and education. That got expensive. "Now we do it all online," she says, "and they can take those first few weeks to meet customers or do other work if they need to."

Allegro Development, Dallas

Read all of the 2010 HR Problem Solvers.

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