Improving Compliance Training through Progressive eLearning
Scott Barnard
Market Strategy Director
UL Compliance to Performance

This article discusses the shift towards compliance training in an eLearning format and the six elements that can serve as a model for any organization that is developing compliance eLearning content.

Many companies today have leveraged various technology to deliver compliance training to employees. Countless companies have cited evidence that eLearning delivers ROI. For example, managers at IBM were able to learn five times the amount of material via eLearning while devoting the same amount of time to training.

Brandon Hall, the leading analyst for the eLearning industry, reported that eLearning requires from 40 per cent to 60 percent less employee time than the same material delivered in a traditional classroom setting.1

While many companies still conduct classroom and on-the-job training for most employees, adding eLearning enables training teams to reach more remote users at reduced costs. The advantage goes beyond dollars by addressing an evolution in training that can impact quality assurance by impacting employees' day to-day behavior.

Many regulatory topics, which span different departments within a Life Science organization (as mandated by FDA, OIG, OSHA, EU, DOL, DOJ, etc.) are best conveyed first as "cold hard facts," and then as compelling and realistic scenarios, to help learners understand how these regulations impact company policies as well as the employees' activities.

Conducting training via an eLearning model is a growing trend. A 2015 study from UK-based learning technology analyst Towards Maturity2 showed that 98 percent of companies implement an eLearning strategy to increase access and flexibility in providing staff training; 94 wanted to deliver greater value for money; 88 percent needed a better way to prove compliance with new regulations and legal requirements, 88 per cent wanted to reduce training costs and 83 percent wanted to extend learning to remote workers.

Furthermore, this study noted that learning has been shifted towards a more personalized and continuous process that aligns to business goals, citing that in terms of business drivers for moving to an e-enabled learning strategy, 98 percent of respondents wanted to improve the quality of learning delivered and 94 per cent needed to reduce time to competence.

eLearning Elements

In recent years, there has been a shift towards compliance training in an eLearning format. There are six essential elements that can serve as a model for any organization that is seeking to develop compliance content in an eLearning format.

1) Engaging Experts:

When dealing with regulatory issues that pertain to the pharmaceutical industry, a company should leverage industry experts to serve as course authors. If the authors are not subject matter experts, such as individuals who are conducting consulting and training workshops, or speak regularly on the topics covered in courses, the learners will be left wanting. The content is complex and should represent thousands of hours of subject-matter expert input based on industry standards and practices. Training and learning is critical to all government regulatory bodies around the world; only the best, most salient and clear content produced by experts should be part of compliance training.

2) A Mix of Learner Interactions:

To make the learning and training interesting and engaging, it should be interactive as opposed to static. The best courses contain several interactive, scenariobased elements designed to truly enhance learning, as opposed to distracting from the purpose of the course. Such interactive exercises, or "interactions," reinforce the information that is being presented. Interactivity can cue the learner's mind on how best to process the information presented; in addition, content should be presented using interactive devices that "layer" the information, which has been proven to be an optimal way to build and reinforce knowledge, and change behavior in adult learners.

3) Assessments that Promote Retention:

Interactive question and answer sets (Q & A's) throughout the course will promote a deeper retention and comprehension of the material. This is a "master learning" approach in which learners must demonstrate proficiency in order to advance through the course and to be qualified on the course content. One way to ensure retention and compliance is to require that a final test be passed before the learner is deemed qualified.

4) Links to Resources and References:

Learning should never be a once-anddone event. Effective learning should be constant and engaging. The best courses teach what is required then provide supplementary information to make the material more relevant to the learner. This adds value when the course is used as a "performance support" tool, in which the learner returns at a later date to confirm or validate a specific topic.

5) Mobile-Ready Formats:

In today's world, most organizations are open to taking advantage of the increase in smartphone and tablet use at the workplace for eLearning. In fact, when accessing digital media, the use of a mobile device is now significantly higher at 51 percent compared to desktop at 42 percent.3A mobile format can increase the accessibility and availability of anytime training that can take place even during off hours. Courses with actionable training programs within a graphic-rich, interactive format should be optimized for the mobile device experience, which can save an organization time, money and be much more efficient for learners and managers.

6) Keep Updated with Current Regulations:

Regulations and laws are continuously being updated and changed. Organizations should consider subscribing to a course library that includes annual updates. This way, in-house compliance staff is not spending their time updating courses, but are focused on core competencies.

Learning Management Systems Reduce Risk

Compliance training affects every organization involved in pharmaceutical manufacturing. It can comprise anything from a review of the employee manual to training on critical life-or-death issues. Despite its importance, many organizations struggle to develop ways to make this training more engaging and strategic. By following these elements, it can help an organization achieve greater results.

Whether the company develops its own courses or relies on outside experts to produce the content, research is clear that a learning management system (LMS) should be used to manage learning. However, an LMS is used to manage less than two-thirds of all compliance training.

Brandon Hall Group's research shows that nearly 25 per cent of all compliance training activities are manually managed. That means that many organizations track this incredibly critical piece of the business with spreadsheets, mail, and intranet sites. Companies that say their compliance efforts are not effective manually manage 36 percent of compliance training; while companies that report effective compliance training-only 20 percent manage it manually-80 percent leverage an LMS.4

When compliance and regulatory training is manually managed, tremendous risk enters the equation. The Brandon Hall Research showed that it is typically more challenging to keep these types of processes up to date to ensure that the right training reaches the right people and is properly recorded. Many companies do this manually because they have always done it that way and fear change will lead to even worse results.

Compliance training that is created by experts and delivered in an e -learning environment though an LMS will help improve effectiveness and provide better outcomes.


1 Learning Magazine, eLearning Success- measuring the ROI impact and benefits, May 2013
2. Towards Maturity, Embracing Change:Improving Performance for Business, Individuals and the L & D Team, Nov. 5, 2015
3. Chaffey D. Mobile Marketing Statistics Compilation, Smart Insights, March 1, 2017,
4. Wentworth D. The Need To Reinvent Compliance Training, Training Magazine, Oct. 26, 2017