Case Study: TPC Training

By using Firmwater LMS, we have been able to grow our business substantially. In just ten years, Firmwater has enabled us to deliver online training to over 440 clients for over 200,000 workers.

Andrew Kauser, TPC Training


About TPC Training

TPC Training is the recognized leader in industrial skills and safety training. Since 1969, TPC Training has provided technical training programs to thousands of customers and millions of skilled workers. TPC's training solutions can fit any size enterprise and have been used by clients large and small, including 3M, Boeing, and BP.

3M Boeing BP

Issues & Problems

In 2004, TPC Training realized that it needed to expand its computer-based training (CBT) offerings. The company had created a proprietary learning management system (LMS) several years before that delivered training courseware via CD-ROMs or mass storage devices. But the limitations of this LMS quickly became apparent.

The limitations TPC experienced included:

  • Installing the LMS. Clients had difficulty integrating the LMS into their current office. Too often, the clients' IT departments had neither the time nor resources to setup and maintain the LMS.
  • Updating the LMS. Keeping the LMS up-to-date provided two challenges. First, any changes to the TPC courseware required that clients be sent a new disk or drive with the updated information. Second, the LMS needed to stay current with new operating systems.
  • Additional Staff. TPC required a full-time development staff in order to maintain its LMS.
  • One-Time Purchases. TPC discovered that its clients didn't need to make repeated purchases of its courseware. Without repeat purchases, TPC had difficulty forecasting potential sales.

The Major Issues

The limitations of implementing the LMS revealed an even greater issue for TPC. How could TPC make its training more easily available and accessible while allowing clients to track the programs' use and effectiveness?

"Our LMS had proven itself substandard," said Andrew Kauser, President, TPC Training System. "While we were still dedicated to providing computer-based training, we knew there had to be a better solution."

TPC determined that delivering their courseware online would be the ideal solution.

After searching the market for a suitable LMS, TPC found most systems were designed to enable companies to deliver courseware internally. These systems would require TPC to set up separate applications for each client, which would become a management nightmare. TPC then examined purchasing a large LMS, such as Oracle's, but that would have forced it into a rather common and expensive solution, which did not accommodate the unique needs of a training publisher like TPC.

Reviewing these systems helped TPC identify two key points for their own LMS:

  • Easy Management. The system had to allow for the easy management of TPC's client base, especially the seamless addition of new clients.
  • Accomodate an Existing LMS. As some larger clients already had an LMS in place, TPC needed a system that could accomodate these systems. This was particularly important so TPC could maintain control over its courseware.

Overcoming Challenges with Firmwater's Solution

TPC turned to Firmwater as it was familiar with the expertise of Firmwater's partners in the development of learning management and knowledge assessment systems.

Firmwater proposed a unique solution, ideal for a training provider like TPC: a multi-tenant learning management system based on the then emerging SCORM 2004 standard. This system would integrate the capability of managing multiple business clients, with the functionalities of an online learning management system.

The Firmwater LMS would allow TPC to manage all current clients and effortlessly add new clients, all in one application. Each new client would receive its own portal, with the capability to customize the look and feel of the user interface, as well as to integrate with existing systems such as a website or an ERP system.

Offered on a Software as a Service model (SaaS), the application would be hosted and maintained by Firmwater. With online delivery, TPC could then offer its training 24/7 to geographically distant locations, making it easily accessible. The SaaS model would shift TPC's revenue stream from single purchases to monthly subscription fees.

Based on the SCORM 2004 industry standard, the Firmwater LMS would allow TPC to track how its clients used its courseware as well as the LMS itself. TPC could keep track of its own courseware, and have full control over who had access to its training. The data gathered by the LMS would provide TPC with proof that its training was actively used by employees. The Firmwater LMS could track completion scores and show that employees were meeting the set goals. This would provide TPC with solid evidence to better sell the value of its training programs.

SCORM 2004 would also make it possible to restructure training content in ways that match the unique needs of each of TPC's clients. Using Firmwater LMS, administrators could remove and reorder sections of the training content to accommodate the requirements of each new user group. Adding in new documents, such as a unique training manual, could also be easily accomplished. This would not only save TPC time, but allow it to provide even more customized training services to each client.

Outcome of Choosing Firmwater LMS

As TPC creates its training content based on the SCORM 2004 standard, it is capable of playing its training courses on any LMS compliant with the standard. This makes it possible for TPC to target large companies that already own their own LMS solution, and are otherwise unlikely to purchase a second system.

TPC now has a way to service large clients with this LMS solution. Firmwater LMS provides a way for other systems to launch content within the application, and then send back the results to TPC's client's LMS. That allows TPC to retain visibility and control over what happened with its content, while being able to service all of its clients. Firmwater LMS is capable of mirroring organizational structures of very complex companies, therefore permitting TPC to service organizations of all sizes.

TPC receives great feedback as it introduces its clients to the Firmwater LMS. Some large clients previously worked with simplified versions of Oracle's LMS. They are amazed at the intuitive and easy to use interface of Firmwater LMS. These large clients switched over to Firmwater LMS as soon as they could.

Benefits of Choosing Firmwater LMS

TPC continues to employ the Firmwater LMS. The Firmwater LMS allows TPC to make its training content available via the web, manage its entire client base from a single system, and add new clients seamlessly. Plus, TPC now has full control over the use of its training content.

With the Firmwater LMS, TPC has found what it was looking for and more.

  • Readily Available Training. Training courseware is now available 24/7 from any internet-connected computer. This allows clients and their workforces to train when and where they want.
  • Effectiveness of Training. The Firmwater LMS allows TPC to track the effectiveness of its training programs. TPC can now determine a workforce's knowledge gains through statistical data.
  • Customizable Content. Through the Firmwater LMS, TPC is able to easily customize client training sites and courseware. This customization provides clients the opportunity to develop unique training programs based on job, machine, or location.
  • Smaller Support Staff. As Firmwater provides system support, TPC no longer needs an extensive support staff to maintain its LMS. TPC relies on one full-time and one part-time administrator to oversee their system.
  • Annual Revenue. By using the Firmwater LMS, TPC is able to set up monthly and annual subscriptions to its training courseware. After witnessing the ease of use and benefits of the Firmwater LMS, 90% of TPC's clients renew their subscription.

With the Firmwater LMS in place, TPC Training acquired a reliable and scalable solution. The Firmwater LMS continues to provide TPC with unmatched functionality to grow its client base.