An interview with Gemma Rupniak, our new Digital Platform Manager.

Here at Jam Pan, we’ve seen a big shift recently in the mindset of L&D. With all the change that has occurred within our industry, organisations are focusing more than ever on how to adopt a truly learner-centric approach to ensure their employees are receiving the learning opportunities they need, when they need it. 

We recently welcomed Gemma Rupniak into our ranks as our new Digital Platform Manager to support this. This was a brand-new role for Jam Pan, with Gemma’s appointment reflecting the desire from businesses to optimise their platforms to provide the best learning experiences for their workforces.  

She brings her expertise in L&D systems and years of experience working with different organisations to maximise the ROI from their learning platforms. And this first-hand insight means that she knows what works – as well as what doesn’t.  

As part of her role, Gemma leads a team of L&D experts to provide fully managed, ongoing support of LMS and LXP platforms. All the way from implementation, to BAU and beyond – she’s already made a huge difference for our clients, helping them to develop a clear strategy to bring about true digital transformation and provide a learning offering that empowers, rather than hinders, their employees. 

We thought this wealth of knowledge was just too good not to tap into, so we recently sat down with Gemma to discuss all things learning platforms. We picked her brains about what she’s currently seeing in the space, best practices and her tips for organisations wanting to ensure success with their platforms. 

 

Q: Welcome Gemma! Thank you so much for sitting down with us today. We’re super happy to have you join us. What are you most looking forward to doing here at Jam Pan?

I had already worked externally with Jam Pan for over a year, so joining the team officially is really exciting for me. There’s a lot I’m looking forward to, but I’d say the main thing is the huge opportunity to support an increased number of individuals and organisations.  

My favourite part of the job is that moment in a review call when a new client smiles with relief at how much we’ve been able to help! It’s just the best, most rewarding feeling, and I’ll be able to do that more and more here at Jam Pan. 

 

Q: So in your role, your focus is on learning technologies and working with businesses to support the management of their platforms. What are the main trends that you are currently seeing within the industry?

In terms of what’s currently being asked of us as a managed service, there’s been a huge increase in demand for content curation. With the rise of LXPs and the increased focus on user-driven learning, being able to provide high quality, relevant and easily accessible content has never been more important.  

For example, as part of my role, I lead a team of freelance experts and administrators, and content curation has been an area that has really taken off. We help refresh content, manage catalogues and curate from organisations’ subscriptions. We also provide native curators to ensure content is applicable for different regions and languages, making it more engaging than being aimed at an English-speaking audience and subtitled. 

I know we’re all tired of talking and hearing about Covid, but I really have seen a shift to outsourced solutions and managed services across businesses of all sizes, potentially as a side-effect of the fast-moving market and the fight for talent. This time of year always sees changes in organisations, whether it’s focusing on year-end or people moving roles and restructuring. I love being able to offer a constant through all that change, supporting by taking the weight off day-to-day. 

 

Q: What do you think are some of the most common issues businesses face when managing their learning platforms?

I’ve worked with lots of organisations, and I think one very common issue I see is people expecting that once they’ve purchased a new platform, they’ll be able to just switch it on and it will start running itself. And this leads to disappointment because they quickly discover that it will require more time than initially thought and their platform is never able to get fully off the ground. 

It can be tempting to think that once you’ve put all the hard work into researching the different options, going out to tender and choosing your new system, when you finally get to launch-day the job is done. However, successfully running a learning platform requires dedicated resource. It’s a full-time job and not something that can just be bolted on to someone’s pre-existing workload! In order to future proof your learning platform, I recommend having a clear roadmap in place of how you’re going to manage it to get the results you’re after. 

 

Q: Leading on from this, what are your top 5 tips for ensuring your learning platform thrives?

I think my first top tip would be, before you start, ensure your platform has a clear strategy and effectively communicates its purpose throughout your organisation. If your users don’t understand the difference between your LXP and LMS, they’re susceptible to ‘technology overload’ and will engage with neither. Focus on your learners by guiding and supporting their use of the platform and showcasing what it offers. Utilise internal marketing and work hard on getting learners into the platform and engaging with your content. 

My next top tip would then have to be governance. Create an iterative document outlining the minimum standards of best practice as soon as possible. It should be iterative because you’re bound to tweak it, but by setting standards from the start, you don’t have to waste resource hunting down bad content or breaking bad habits. 

My third tip is to think about identity and the perceptions you want your learners to have. As well as understanding what your platform is for, it’s really important to identify roles across the organisation to promote and maintain their part in the platform. Have specific ‘champions’ or SME’s with a face and name responsible for their content to ensure buy-in. 

Fourth, I can’t not touch on housekeeping. I would recommend working to create a robust framework for the sorts of tasks we include in our assurance packages; from running dummy searches, testing content quality to keeping up-to-date on platform releases. You’re paying for software as a service, which includes these constant updates, so make sure you’re getting your money’s worth and pay attention to releases. 

Finally, my last tip would be to keep track and make the most out of your data. Make sure all the energy you’re putting into the learning platform is coming out as a measurable success, like linking learning data to performance and tracking content engagement. 

 

Thank you so much Gemma for your insight. We’re really looking forward to you continuing to help our clients and we can’t wait to see what you do next! 

 

If you’re interested in exploring how Jam Pan and our thousands of L&D specialists can support you on a full range of projects, get in touch. We would love to hear from you.