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Delivering Self-Directed Training to T-Mobile's Network Organization

Communications | Training and Education

T-Mobile was retiring its legacy network and engaged TEKsystems Training and Education Services to deliver a self-directed training solution that would be available simultaneously with the migration to the new network.

As one of the nation’s largest wireless voice, messaging and data providers, T-Mobile delivers communications services to over 33 million customers in the United States, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The client provides its services as well as handsets and accessories through its retail stores, independent retail outlets, its website and third-party Web retailers. T-Mobile is a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom, a world leader in integrated telecommunications. TEKsystems has supported T-Mobile since 1998.

Project Overview

Advances in technology empower businesses to optimize their IT to drive time and cost efficiencies, enhance performance and productivity, and ultimately improve end-customer satisfaction. However, these results can only be maximized if the people using the technologies are trained and fully understand how to use the tools. When introducing new technologies, there can be an overlap from the time organizations are able to replace the old with the new. Employees need to be educated on both the new and the legacy products in order to reduce potential interruption to day-to-day business activities. The following guidelines will help leadership arrive at the best training approach:

  • Self-directed – Employees should be able to navigate the training with little to no guidance from additional resources, in order to make the best use of everyone’s time 
  • Repeatable – The organization should own the training content so that it can be reused as long as the legacy technology is present
  • Cost – Since the technology is phasing out, the best education model should require minimal investment

Each organization's unique needs, business climate and target audience will help shape the education delivery model used—whether it is instructor-led training, coaching, online virtual training or e-learning. In preparation for any technology migration, training and education content should be deployed along with the release of the new product. To ensure a smooth transition to the new system, while effectively using the legacy system during the interim, businesses require a flexible education and training partner to support them in equipping users with the skills and knowledge to work in both systems.

Adobe Captivate 5.5

Wireless carriers aim to deliver to consumer expectations and are required to keep pace with technology advances to ensure their wireless products are running parallel or ahead of competitor carrier offerings. It is critical that wireless carriers effectively manage and route wireless traffic and ensure bandwidth is maximized through an IP and Ethernet network. As such, T-Mobile launched its LTE and network modernization initiative to migrate their network to the latest iteration of technology. This initiative was imperative for the client to ensure they remained relevant and competitive with the industry as it evolved.

The legacy network would run simultaneously during the migration to the new network until the old network was fully retired and the migration was complete. In concert with this modernization effort, T-Mobile needed training and education support to facilitate learning of the legacy network during the overlapping period while it was being ushered out of the organization. The client sought to develop six courses within a tight time frame that coincided with the rollout of the LTE and network modernization. The courses would be used to train as many as 8,000 T-Mobile employees across its network organization including network operations, engineering and operating centers. Given the size of the audience, the client required that the source content be instructor-led but consumed as e-learning.

T-Mobile’s internal team did not have the bandwidth to complete the necessary deliverables in time. Additionally, the client was up for potential acquisition by a large telecommunications organization. In the midst of the IT modernization initiative, this major business deal—which would have created major transitions in the company and had been carefully planned and prepared for—eventually dissolved. This meant that company leaders had to refocus their priorities, employee roles would shift and unpredictable changes could be made on a day-to-day basis. The IT training and education partner of choice would need to be flexible with the changing tide within the client organization.

T-Mobile sought a partner to support the migration and modernization initiative via training on the legacy network. In response, TEKsystems proposed designing and developing six customized e-learning courses for T-Mobile. 

To develop and deliver the optimal solution for T-Mobile, TEKsystems would adhere to the ADDIE model, a best practice model widely used by the training industry: analyze, design, develop, implement and evaluate. Notably, we would adjust our approach with the needs of the client should they change.

  1. Analysis and requirements gathering
    The TEKsystems instructional designer would partner with client stakeholders to identify all information necessary in order to effectively design a course that accommodated the needs of T-Mobile. We would define training goals and objectives as well as the target audience. We would also explore the type of training best suited for the client and any potential issues that should be addressed through the training. Working collaboratively with the client, we would evaluate existing content and processes and identify any gaps. From this analysis, TEKsystems would establish a curriculum/program framework and provide our recommendations for the training program.

  2. Design
    Our instructional designer would then partner with client stakeholders to develop a design document for the course that captures the underlying performance outcomes to be achieved through training, and flesh out additional details and knowledge required for reaching target outcomes. The design document would frame the overall structure of our learning solution and provide T-Mobile with our preliminary vision for the program.

  3. Storyboard development
    Once T-Mobile reviewed and approved the design document, the instructional designer would continue mining and developing the necessary content to be incorporated into storyboards for each module within the courses. All content we developed would be based on source content provided by T-Mobile, who would have the opportunity to provide feedback through the Alpha, Beta and Gold review cycles.

  4. E-Learning development
    Our instructional designer and graphic designer would collaborate to develop the final e-learning solution using the client-approved storyboard. At this stage, the graphics, animation, text and audio would be developed and synched in Adobe Captivate 5.5. We would then deliver the e-learning course to T-Mobile to test functionality, provide feedback and approval through the Alpha, Beta and Gold review cycles.

  5. Implementation
    TEKsystems would deliver the e-learning course files, a tested AICC package and the source files for the course. All courses would be delivered in AICC format to ensure a seamless integration with T-Mobile’s learning management system (LMS). T-Mobile would then upload the courses for additional testing on their LMS.

  6. Review and sign-off 
    Upon successfully completing all deliverables, TEKsystems would request formal sign-off from T-Mobile. Then the client could introduce the training courses to the appropriate members of its network team. The training assets would be available for T-Mobile to reuse as long as the organization supports its legacy network.

Given our longstanding, successful history with the client, T-Mobile was aware of our ability to develop content specific and unique to the needs of each of our clients and trusted in our partnership and promise to deliver the best solution. And with this approach in mind, T-Mobile selected TEKsystems to create the educational resources needed to usher out the legacy network.

To address T-Mobile’s internal bandwidth issues, TEKsystems successfully implemented this training program in support of the LTE and network modernization initiative. Six courses were created, all within the client’s budget and scope. Specifically, utilizing Adobe Captivate 5.5, we developed the following e-learning courses for T-Mobile: 

  • Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) Base Station Subsystem (BSS) Operations Maintenance Overview, Part A and Part B 
  • Ericsson Evo Controller 8100/BSC System Overview
  • NSN Convergence/IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) Call Flows
  • Emacx ALC Building Management System (BMS) 
  • Emacx ALC Cooling

Throughout the engagement, TEKsystems remained flexible and agile in order to best meet the client’s needs. Given that the anticipated acquisition did not come to fruition, the client’s business environment had to readjust and reprioritize plans and upcoming projects. This was happening as TEKsystems was initiating this engagement. As a result, the courses—which were designed using client-sourced content—required reconsideration and time for the client to gain clarity. The client was not ready to deliver the content to TEKsystems at the start of the program as previously intended, as the content was being reevaluated internally based on the changes within the business. In addition, the client’s subject matter experts whom we relied on to provide the necessary content had limited availability to support this initiative in between their heavy workloads. Eventually course topics and content changed and TEKsystems had to develop six different courses than those originally documented in the statement of work. 

We offered patience and support while the client sorted through its plans for the courses. Six weeks were initially allotted to this engagement as agreed upon in the statement of work, so TEKsystems positioned the right resources in line to start right away. However, due to the client’s schedule and the availability of internal experts delivering the content, the development ended up being staggered over nearly eight months. Realizing this at the beginning of the project, we were able to adapt our process to the client’s extended schedule. 

Despite the time and content obstacles, TEKsystems still designed, developed and delivered the courses, and T-Mobile was armed to train as many as 8,000 members of its network team. With TEKsystems’ support in delivering legacy network training to the appropriate users, the client could focus on its LTE and network modernization initiative while the legacy network was simultaneously running smoothly. Additionally, the courses we provided are reusable learning assets that T-Mobile owns; the client can continue to leverage these assets to support legacy network training until the network is completely retired. This was a critical benefit that the client valued. 

T-Mobile was so pleased with our performance and the value we brought to this engagement that additional TEKsystems resources were later requested to support on-site development.

Key Success Factors

  • Established relationship. Being a trusted partner of T-Mobile for over 15 years, TEKsystems had built a rapport with the client that provided further confidence in our abilities. We used this engagement as an opportunity to continue strengthening this partnership. From start to finish, TEKsystems worked to have a great relationship with the client points of contact. We were not only focused on delivering the outputs but also on developing relationships and interacting with the subject matter experts we were working with. Following completion of this e-learning program, T- Mobile reengaged us to support a managed service model, validating the success of our business relationship.
  • Flexible delivery. TEKsystems was extremely flexible with the client’s schedule and evolving business climate. We adjusted our plan and process to accommodate the changing needs and requirements of this engagement. Along with our flexibility in terms of the extended schedule, we were also a dependable partner as the client assessed the courses and content. While the original six courses we intended to develop had changed, we adapted and successfully developed a new set of courses as the client requested.
  • Supportive partnership. The abandoned attempt to purchase T-Mobile left the client in very unique circumstances. Plans for the merger were already in full swing, and when the proposed deal fell through the client had to adjust. TEKsystems had its engagement process planned out, but with the business changes that occurred, we had to take a step back to see the big picture and rethink our process. We collaborated with the client to ensure we understood their vision, then adapted and integrated our processes into the business.