SumTotal Blog

Dan Boccabella (3 Posts)

Dan Boccabella

Dan is the Vice President of Product Management for SumTotal Systems, a Skillsoft Company. For over 20 years, Dan’s exclusive focus has been helping leading organizations re-engineer their HR processes. Dan has held product leadership roles at SumTotal since 2006. In his current role, Dan’s product strategy team is responsible for determining the SumTotal suite-wide roadmap based on feedback from internal teams and customers as well as broader market trends.

4 Ways Your LMS Supports Business Continuity

Over the last few weeks, the way all of us live and work has dramatically changed. The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a great business continuity challenge and stress for a lot of people.

In these stressful times, on top of staying healthy, it is crucial for workers to remain engaged and productive with their work. Organizations everywhere must get creative and find out what current assets can be leveraged to reduce stress while still keeping engagement and productivity up.

An effective Learning Management System (LMS)—with some strategizing—can help organizations navigate times of crisis and maintain employee engagement and productivity. A robust LMS and strategy can disseminate critical information in a secure and trackable manner as well as provide employees quick access to business continuity resources.

Utilize your LMS—not email—for critical, trackable communications

As recently formulated COVID-19 policies continue to evolve and adapt, so increases the communication of those updates. Communication in times of crisis is critical to an organization being able to continue business as close to normal as possible.

However, employees, vendors and customers have overflowing email inboxes due to the increase of communications. Utilizing an LMS to distribute critical policies updates can help ensure they are not overlooked—a robust LMS has almost the same penetration as an email but offers these significant advantages:

1. Trackability

With so many COVID-19 policy updates flooding employees’ inboxes, how do you know if the emails are actually being read? LMS distribution provides trackability as well as the ability to nudge users until the information—written or video—is consumed.

2. Comprehension

Utilize assessments to ensure comprehension of policies. Transform external messages like “our employees have all been briefed on the new procedures” to “every employee has taken training and is certified on our new COVID-19 procedures.”

3. Security and validity

An effective LMS provides more granular control over shared information. Versioning can ensure updates to critical policies are tracked, and old information can be updated instantly—reducing the risk of someone referring to outdated information.

4. Discoverability

An LMS can aggregate relevant content, such as COVID-19 and business continuity resources, from multiple content providers into easily discoverable channels. The centralization of relevant resources is monumental and provides a unified solution that employees can easily reference. Resources an effective LMS should be able to aggregate include:

  • Company policies and updates
  • Governmental notices including the CDC and public health departments
  • Engaging content on business continuity best practices
  • Publications like MIT Sloan Management Review for COVID-19 resources


No one knows exactly what lies ahead in the upcoming months, but we can be fairly certain that organizations will have to become more agile than ever to survive. Organizations will implement larger changes in shorter timer periods.

Pandemics are stressful but provide opportunities to leverage and enhance your organization’s learning strategy to communicate, implement and support these changes in the coming weeks.

What Perspectives 2019 Offers SumTotal Customers

The start of a new year is the perfect time to take stock of what’s happening in your organization, your industry and on the broader global scale. It’s the ideal opportunity to reevaluate successes or failures and determine how best to either learn from any mistakes or ways to improve upon previous gains. As business leaders look at the opportunities another year provides, I know the pace of technological change is at the forefront of everyone’s collective consciousness. I doubt there’s a single 2019 business strategy plan that does not include some mention of digital transformation, digital skills deficit or something in that vein.

HR professionals know only too well the massive impact that digital and all its many manifestations are having on all aspects of their industry. Whether you work in talent acquisition, learning management, or payroll and workforce management, no one is immune. We considered all this as we designed the agenda for this year’s Perspectives, our annual user conference. It’s always our intention that our user conference is just that – a time where it’s all about the people who use our products and services daily. It’s why the theme is, Accelerate your learning workforce for digital transformation, and why the topics selected for discussion align with the 7 Trends to Expect for Talent and Learning in 2019 my colleague, Morne Swart, blogged about earlier this year.

What can SumTotal attendees expect?

In #Perspectives19: A Whole New Perspective, my colleague Tara O’Sullivan provides a comprehensive summary of everything planned for our 20th annual Perspectives, including the keynotes and our Innovation Awards program. Today I want to provide insight into the sections I feel are most relevant to our SumTotal customers.

Industry-leading voices

Kyle Lagunas, one of IDC’s leading analysts on emerging trends in talent acquisition and engagement, will present key findings from his brand-new research on the current state of digital transformation (DT) within the HR function. He will talk about the skills and capabilities that are vital if organizations are to succeed. Kyle will also break through the buzzwords to identify the real opportunities and threats that DT poses to HR organizations today. In addition, Kyle will moderate a customer panel discussion on DT. We’ll hear stories from the front line and best practice tips.

Curated tracks

We have a selection of workshops relevant to all attendees as well as track-specific sessions that take a deeper dive into distinct interest areas. In all, we have a total of five tracks: Growth Edition, Learning Management, Talent Management and Talent Acquisition, Workforce Management and Payroll. Each track includes customer and partner speakers, case studies, panel discussions and workshops to give you the best possible experience.

Here are just some of the presentations on Tuesday, April 15 that follow the general session and networking lunch:

  • Talent Agility in an Emerging Workplace – To fully prepare for the future of work, executives must stay ahead of the curve every day. Progressive leaders must engage their workforce to think through how trends affect the nature of work inside and outside the organizations. This session is designed to support your organization’s top HR digital initiatives.
  • Solving HR and Business Problems Throughout the Employee Lifecycle – Learn how SumTotal’s solutions can unify your organization by implementing successful talent development strategies.
  • How Customers are Achieving Success Derek Blake, Senior Director, Global L&D, PSAV will explain how they are achieving success using SumTotal Learning Management to systematize career planning and development for more than 10,000 employees.
  • User-Centric Design & You: How Our Customers Are Driving New Solutions – During this session, SumTotal will allow customers to “see under the hood” at how industry trends and customers shape our product roadmap. Learn how our customers are driving new solutions and how your organization can participate in the SumTotal roadmap process.

Here’s a sample of the sessions happening Wednesday, April 16:

  • Continuing Education – One of Raymond James’s Keys to SuccessBrian Mulliner, Director, Organization and Talent Development, Raymond James Financial will discuss how his organization depends on continuing education to ensure they keep their clients prosperous in a swiftly changing industry. Brian will also address why they chose SumTotal as their LMS partner due to the continuing education unit (CEU) tracking functionality.
  • Disparate systems into one source of truth via optimization – Discover how Clean Harbors is configuring their LMS so they can migrate several sources of data into one system. As a result, they have eliminated inefficiencies and manual work in the various systems which many times proved also to be inaccurate and dated.
  • From LMS to Ecosystem: Going Beyond Implementation – Creating a learning ecosystem that integrates into all aspects of your organization is now an imperative. This session will cover the keys to a successful learning ecosystem. Using a case study, we will discuss what should happen in year two, three, and beyond to nurture an environment where learning and performance support are part of a user’s daily life.
  • Extended Enterprise Prototype3M Healthcare has used the SumTotal Learning Management platform to develop and customize a global learning and training prototype to extend services, and product training out to multiple countries. In this session, you will learn how they customized and branded the mobile solution to support this program.

The complete agenda is available here.

Looking forward to seeing you all in Orlando in mid-April.



Why Continuous Employee Development is No Longer Optional

Why Continuous Employee Development is No Longer Optional

Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends includes a section devoted to careers and the way career progression will change in the future.

Building the 21st-century career” emerged as the third most important trend in the survey, although only nine percent believed they were very ready to deal with it. Deloitte goes on to define such a career as “a series of developmental experiences each offering a person the opportunity to acquire new skills, perspectives, and judgment.”

It’s time to think about career progression as more of a process of constant reinvention. No longer are employees boxed into one category and expected to rise within that. Professionals need to consistently learn new skills to adapt and move about in an ever-changing workforce. In other words, if you have not already done so, it’s time to lose the ladder and switch from infrequent developmental milestones to a model of continuous development. Continuous development starts with pre-boarding and onboarding and continues throughout an employee lifecycle.

What does this mean for employers?

We surveyed our Skillsoft Global Leader Forum, a group comprising top-performing human resources and L&D professionals, for their thoughts on what career development will mean for organizations.

Sixty-seven percent of respondents said career development is necessary for companies to attract and train the next generation of organizational leaders, and to grow and develop employees. Forty-two percent of respondents said career development is necessary to attract new talent.

Employees have high expectations of how and where they can grow within an organization. If employees do not see opportunities for career development, they will leave.

Career development also serves a strategic function, a purpose that we sometimes overlook because we assume it only pertains to employee ambitions. Career development is instrumental in supporting an organization’s business objectives and can assist with the alignment of the needs of industry. For example, if you are a manufacturing company and the latest innovation means the current production process is no longer viable, then retraining current employees to perform new roles will enable your organization to adapt.

Are organizations taking a pro-active stance?

Yes and no. Although the majority of respondents indicated that they are pursuing a pro-active alignment with employee development to combat shrinking numbers of qualified workers, none have defined metrics that align career development with strategy. The cost factor is an issue, and why almost half face resistance to providing career development.

As the issue of talent continues to reverberate around HR and executive circles, it will be those companies who recognize and execute strategies around career development which will survive and thrive.

How can an organization move to a lifecycle approach to career development?

Enable employees, not just managers

One of the primary reasons for employee turnover is the lack of career development and coaching from managers. By putting employee development tools in the hands of employees, everyone can get on-demand access to developmental suggestions for their current and future jobs.

Bring disparate processes together

A unified approach to employee development rather than siloed training plans, development plans and career plans can help support the transition to continuous employee development.

Leverage new machine intelligence technology

New tools can uncover non-obvious career development opportunities and recommend developmental activities and career paths based on crowdsourced and data-mined intelligence. Not only are the recommendations more meaningful, but these highly personalized developmental recommendations are also more engaging to employees.

Create an engaging environment for development

One way to improve usage and effectiveness of developmental tools is by tying your employee development programs to social communities and reinforce positive actions via gamification. These peer-supported communities, combined with an opportunity to earn points and badges, increase usage by making the process fun. Finally, one of the easiest ways to improve engagement in the employee development process is by providing access to development tools, resources and content via easy-to-use mobile apps that can support quick, targeted micro-learning.

To learn what else our Global Leader Forum has to say on this subject, check out our Career Development for Your Talent Pool infographic.