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Corporate compliance training, Part II

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Corporate compliance training, Part II
By Cary J. Griffith

Cultivating a legal and ethical business climate is a two-step process. First, the courts, regulatory agencies, and other governmental bodies need to have the legal and financial wherewithal to investigate and prosecute corporate wrongdoing. Second, corporate America and its employees need to be aware of the changing regulatory and legal landscape, so they can be sure they keep to the straight and narrow path.

In part, Congress took the first step by passing the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, and strengthening the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. The New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ also responded by revamping their governance rules.

"If you look at [the new laws] closely," comments David Simon, President and Founder of WeComply, a corporate compliance training vendor, "revised listing standards and the amendments to the sentencing guidelines have been helpful because they are explicit about training requirements." By 'helpful' Simon means 'good for business,' because explicit training requirements mean companies have specific guidelines about what their employees need to know. And corporate compliance training companies have clear guidelines about what their courses must contain, and how they must be taught.

Today WeComply is one of a handful of training compliance companies well positioned to provide corporate America, and the world with whatever it needs to train its employees and management on everything from Antitrust to Whistleblower Claims. Most of these companies have been in business long before the Enron debacle. And most have been quick to leverage and enhance new technologies to provide companies with a variety of methods for training their employees.

In a general sense, the four vendors listed here all provide a similar process and product for helping companies train employees and management. That does not mean they are all the same. Each of these vendors would be quick to illustrate the features that set them apart from their competitors. And each deserves a thorough review by companies contemplating outside assistance with in-house legal and ethics training.

Having noted the preceding, all of these vendors share some similarities worth noting, and that should give potential users a good idea of how they operate.

  • They all use legal and knowledge experts to create their courses and keep them current.
  • They all use new internet technologies to convey their courses over the internet, or via in-house web servers.
  • They all use constantly updated employee files to provide all employees-even in companies with over 100,000 workers-with access to discrete usernames and passwords.
  • They all track individual training progress. If you're an employee taking an ethics compliance course and you miss a question about antitrust and trade regulation laws, these courses track it and help you work back through the questions until you get it right.
  • They all provide company and training managers with overall metrics as to how, in general, their employees are doing. This same summary information can be used to provide regulatory and oversight agencies with proof the company is taking an ethical culture serious.
  • And they are not cheap. The cost for a couple of courses offered to a 10,000 employee company would be in the neighborhood of $100,000 per year. Of course, pricing plans vary and interested readers should contact each vendor for more details.
The training vendors listed here are constantly monitoring new technologies, updating and improving the process they use to keep employees in the know. "We're moving toward pod casting technology," comments David Simon, believing some training is best done "on a commute or a walk, rather than at a computer."

According to Cathleen Sullivan, President and Founder of RedHawk Communications, some of their training efforts include "a library of different tools on every single code topic, because training is not a one time event." Some of the tools Ms. Sullivan mentions include: posters, articles, e-communications, brochures and manuals that can be used to "help build an ethical culture."

In the nod to the new international business environment, LRN "enables employees to view their entire online education and certification experience-not only course content but curriculum lists, training instructions, completion data and virtual report cards-in their own language," explains Kathleen Brennan, LRN Director of Communications. LRN's courses are available in over 30 different languages.

And Integrity Interactive continues to break new ground exploring streaming video and audio.

Comparison Grid for Corporate Compliance Training Vendors/Applications

Name: WeComply
URL www.wecomply.com
Approx. # of courses 40
Customizability Online Admin tool relatively easy to use - can edit the entire course.
User Tracking (tracks test scored, etc.)? Yes - tracks completion and score
How Does Vendor Manage/Track Users? Client company supplies master list of all employees - used to generate discrete password based on email or employee id.
Test Type Periodic popup quizzes, overall game quiz at end - different types.
Links to in-house policies? Yes, can be added.
Media type Text plus simple graphics, with selected audio and video.
Bookmarks? 1 Yes
Uses Quizzes/Games? Yes - popup quizzes throughout test, variety of games at end.
Acknowledgement Prompt at End of Test? Yes, with explanation.
Prints Personalized Compliance Certificate? Yes
Approximate Course Taking Time 30-45 minutes
Pricing Charge on per use basis, per seat, or per program - pricing varies according to client needs.
Ann Maint. After first year? Yes
Overall Appearance (Subjective) Clean, elegant, nice graphics - great for low bandwidths.
Contact 866-932-6675, sales@wecomply.com


Name: RedHawk Communications
 
URL   www.ethicscoach.com
 
Approx. # of courses   26 courses (covers over 100 topics).
 
Customizability   Yes - can embed links to company code, policies, etc., but depending on version acquired you can have more content customized. All editing done by RedHawk.
 
User Tracking (tracks test scored, etc.)?   Yes - tracks completion and score
 
How Does Vendor Manage/Track Users?   Client company provides table of employee names & ids, and passwords. Could give them table with 10,000 emails addresses, for instance.
 
Test Type   Periodic yes/no and multiple choice questions test users on content - responses explained.
There's a final test.
 
Links to in-house policies?   Yes, can be added.
 
Media type   Text plus graphics, some animation, some streaming video - and sound.
 
Bookmarks? 1   Yes
 
Uses Quizzes/Games?   Yes - periodic yes/no, multiple choice, and final test.
 
Acknowledgement Prompt at End of Test?   Yes, with explanation.
 
Prints Personalized Compliance Certificate?   Yes
 
Approximate Course Taking Time   30-45 minutes
 
Pricing   Per course (however there are a variety of pricing plans, depending on client needs)
 
Ann Maint. After first year?   Yes
 
Overall Appearance (Subjective)   Clean, elegant, excellent graphics, etc.
 
Contact   Cathleen Sullivan - 732-440-1600


Name: LRN
     
URL   www.lrn.com
     
Approx. # of courses   200 legal, compliance and ethics courses (covers over 3,600 topics).
     
Customizability   Yes. LRN offers different levels of customization, including branding welcome pages with company logos, multiple language versions, etc.
     
User Tracking (tracks test scored, etc.)?   Yes - tracks completion and score
     
How Does Vendor Manage/Track Users?   Client company supplies master list of all employees - used to generate discrete password based on email or employee id. Also offer bulk load API that can automatically extract employee info.
     
Test Type   Self-check quizzes highlight relevant points of content as it progresses - and there's a quiz at the end or each course.
     
Links to in-house policies?   Yes, can be added.
     
Media type   Text and simple graphics. Can also provide audio/video format.
     
Bookmarks? 1   Yes
     
Uses Quizzes/Games?   Periodic self-checks, with overall quiz at end - multiple choice.
     
Acknowledgement Prompt at End of Test?   Yes. Tells you your score and suggests reviewing parts didn't do well on.
     
Prints Personalized Compliance Certificate?   Yes
     
Approximate Course Taking Time   30-45 minutes
     
Pricing   Varies, depending on client needs.
     
Ann Maint. After first year?   Yes
     
Overall Appearance (Subjective)   Reasonable - text and graphics with some minor animation - spinning newspaper, etc.
     
Contact   310-209-7060, info@lrn.com


Name: Integrity Interactive
     
URL   www.integrityinteractive.com
     
Approx. # of courses   245 ethics and compliance areas-organized into over 42 course units
     
Customizability   Yes - can customize all courses.
     
User Tracking (tracks test scored, etc.)?   Yes - tracks completion and score
     
How Does Vendor Manage/Track Users?   Client company provides regular data files and fully administers the program, assigning employees to the appropriate risk curriculum, and driving them through to completion
     
Test Type   Multiple choice - must test to 100%
     
Links to in-house policies?   Yes, can be added.
     
Media type   Internet/intranet, CD, just text and graphics.
     
Bookmarks? 1   Yes
     
Uses Quizzes/Games?   Each lesson includes a multiple-choice question to ensure the employee understands the material presented.
     
Acknowledgement Prompt at End of Test?   Yes, employee is congratulated for successful completion.
     
Prints Personalized Compliance Certificate?   Yes
     
Approximate Course Taking Time   30-45 minutes
     
Pricing   Integrity offers an annual subscription pricing model.
     
Ann Maint. After first year?   Yes
     
Overall Appearance (Subjective)   Excellent overall appearance; clean, slick graphics and good content layout.
     
Contact   781-891-9700

1Gives users the ability to interrupt course and return to position from which they left off.

The verdict is still out on whether these new laws, regulations and rules have had a positive or negative effect on the marketplace. But in the world of corporate compliance training their affect has been to usher in a new era of educational opportunities. Today, no companies can afford to be out of step with the new requirements of doing business. And training vendors like the four listed in our grid can provide business with tremendous new training and tracking capabilities.

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