Case Study


Synapse software running on desktop computer

How Effective Collaboration was Key for Pinnacol Assurance in Implementing an Organization-Wide Training Initiative

March 24, 2021




Meet Libby Albanesi!

Senior Learning and Organizational Development Specialist, Pinnacol Assurance

Company Summary

Pinnacol Assurance has spent more than a century providing personalized service and compassionate care for their workers’ compensation customers: policyholders and injured workers in Colorado.

Libby Albanesi joined the Learning and Organizational Development (L&OD) team four years ago as a learning specialist. Within that time, she took part in a training design project that was to be a game-changer in how Pinnacol approached their position in the market.

“[Customers] want to be understood by their insurance company. Nothing is more frustrating than calling a company and feeling like no one knows what you’re trying to say.”

An important cornerstone of delivering exceptional customer experiences, in an industry with highly technical subject matter, is the tailored industry knowledge of Pinnacol’s employees. Pinnacol began a project to invest in employees’ industry knowledge for the customers they support.

Employees across different business functions (including underwriters and claims representatives) would participate in training and improve their industry knowledge to better understand their customers’ needs. The goal was to invest in employee knowledge to support Pinnacol in becoming a customer insights leader and cultivate tailored customer experiences as a competitive differentiator in the market.

The Challenge

Led by a project manager, Libby and another learning specialist joined a project group with 25 subject matter experts (SMEs) from across the company to work together on the daunting training project. It wasn’t long before they ran into challenges.

“We had a lot of emails going back and forth, trying to collect input and content from SMEs, which was cumbersome.”

Libby knew that if they wanted to meet the deadline, they needed to improve efficiency and find a better way to collaborate. In order to coordinate such a large, company-wide initiative, Libby and her colleagues knew that collaboration with SMEs across the business
was key.

First, the SMEs on a particular subject needed to “data dump” their expertise to the L&OD department. Libby and her team would then work with the SMEs to organize knowledge into curriculums and courses that made sense. Then, the L&OD department would use authoring tools to create the content needed. Once the content was finalized, it needed to be passed to the communications team so they could ensure it aligned with brand messaging.

As with all projects, the needs of the team changed over time. Additional SMEs were pulled in to provide further insights and
expertise throughout the project.

Until now, Libby and her colleague had been coordinating the training content in Word documents and email, but this was proving to be ineffective, frustrating, and slow. It was difficult to track document versions, who provided the content, and who suggested changes.

Another member of the L&OD team suggested that Libby and her colleague use Synapse to ease some of the bottlenecks that were slowing the project down. It had already been used by the company for a similar training project with success.

“It was really important for us to have a space where we could all work and collaborate together.”

Barriers To Scale

  • The training project only accounted for 1% of the SMEs’ roles and responsibilities, so timing and effective collaboration were critical.
  • Two learning specialists were trying to coordinate a large training project.
  • With so many involved in the project, L&OD was struggling to keep track of versions and task ownership.

The Solution

Libby began leveraging Synapse in order to speed up the project. The software provided one centralized location for the entire training development process. The L&OD team could work with SMEs and the communications team directly in the platform, create blueprints of the training project, assign tasks, and collaborate with all stakeholders.

The Templates function within Synapse was of immediate value to the team. It allowed L&OD to be very clear on what was needed and where it should go. They were able to assign tasks to specific SMEs and have a birds-eye view of what was going on with all the moving parts of the project.

“We were able to take all of that content in one place and start to develop eLearning that was rolled out to the company."

The single sign-on feature allowed SMEs to use their company credentials to log into Synapse and take part in the project. Once the SME was logged in, all they had to do was look for tasks assigned to them and the projects specific to their expertise within the platform.

Another platform feature the L&OD team found helpful was access to auto-created blueprints of the training projects generated by Synapse. They could be exported to PDF so Libby could maintain full control of versions without losing any content. The project team also found the platform easy to use:

“Sometimes it’s hard to use new software when it’s a tiny part of your job. But [the SMEs] were very receptive to using the platform and were able to ‘turn and burn’ the content that much faster.”

“It was so easy to invite new SMEs into the system to start collaborating. They could see everything that we already had and everything that we were trying to accomplish in one place."

The Results

When the project was complete, Libby and her team had used Synapse to build 12 courses in four different curriculums. The training has been rolled out to approximately 60% of Pinnacol’s Insurance Operations employees. Using Synapse helped the learning team effectively collaborate with ease and stay organized, which enabled the project to more efficiently gain meaningful traction.

“I don’t think we would have been able to finish by the deadline. It was nice to be able to pick up and go, collaborate with new SMEs that were added in at the last minute. We had the bones built, so could we have done it in a Word document? Yes. Would it have been as collaborative or efficient? No.”

Having implemented Synapse in March 2018, the project was completed, and the training began to roll out to employees in May of 2019.

“The project finished much stronger than it started. Synapse helped us logistically, so we could focus on developing meaningful content."

Libby and her team are delighted with the successful completion of the project and look forward to seeing the business impact of the training implementation.

“It was great to see it come to a resolution. Synapse was a big part of our success in delivering the learning our employees needed to help them deliver tailored customer industry experiences.”

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