Honda has outsourced development of a learning management system (LMS) to the offshore development arm of recruitment company Harvey Nash.
The car manufacturer is looking to roll out e-learning to its distributors to slash costs and improve customer service.
The chosen web-based LMS is written in Java and will run on IBM's WebSphere Application Server on Microsoft Windows Server 2000.
It will replace a 10-year-old bespoke application and allow Honda Institute, the company's training division, to manage the qualifications, training histories and personal development plans of thousands of Honda dealership employees.
Andy Smith, systems development manager at Honda Institute, said the new system would make it easier to hit its target of providing 12,000 annual man-days of commercial and technical training in the UK alone.
"Our vision is to allow our dealers and large customers to book themselves onto training courses over the internet," Smith said.
Implementation of the core LMS, allowing Honda to administer classroom-based and distance learning courses, is due to be complete by September.
Phase two will open up access to the system to dealerships. A pilot will be run later this year with full roll-out in 2004.
Ultimately the system will be used to offer e-learning content developed both in-house and by third-party specialists. Honda hopes that e-learning will account for 10 per cent of its training by 2006.
"Taking a more structured approach will also allow us to track training and update our records so we can make sure all people are trained for the job role they do. Currently there's no easy way of tracking it and we can't be as responsive on training," Smith said.
He admitted that cost-cutting is high on the agenda, but maintained that customers would also benefit.
Honda has outsourced software development projects to Harvey Nash Development before, including elements of its UK website.
"We do the majority of our software development in-house but there are peaks and troughs in our workload and we don't always have the capacity internally," Smith said.
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