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Plateau Systems

Now that the economy has bounced back a bit, more companies are thinking about training.

Now that the economy has bounced back a bit, more companies are thinking about training. Arlington-based Plateau Systems can take companies from contemplation to action, with software that keeps employees performing at their peak. Chairman and CEO Paul Sparta chatted about knowledge, surviving the downturn, and grooming some assets.

Why do you feel there’s a need for your software?

Today, executives within large organizations are recognizing that traditional methods to enhance human performance are substandard. They’re difficult to deploy, don’t have a central repository, lack business intelligence and they’re hard to update. Meanwhile, their associated costs like travel, rental facilities, paper-based manuals, and so forth, are significant.

This environment has spawned the need for enterprise solutions that take a more strategic approach to maximizing human potential. Our solutions span all functional divisions within an organization, offering a single but flexible mechanism for knowledge transfer.

How does the software work?

From an end-user perspective, the software is simple to use. Its Web-based interface is an intuitive portal, offering students, managers, and executives alike access to course catalogs, professional development histories and requirements, and business intelligence. Which enables them to evaluate the impact of knowledge transfer on specific business objectives such as sales quotas, safety requirements, and customer service targets.

During the recent economic malaise, training was cut from many budgets. What kind of effect did that have on companies?

Sadly, an economic downturn is when human performance management is critical. Companies must get the most out of their existing employees. In a serious downturn, when layoffs are required, remaining employees are asked to backfill, performing job responsibilities left vacant.

Even in a moderate downturn, when layoffs aren’t required, the business environment still becomes more competitive. Companies are competing for a shrinking market; everything counts. Employees must be more knowledgeable and efficient than they’ve ever been.

In 2001 and 2002, when the economy was at its worst, many savvy executives recognized this problem–the need to elevate human performance vs. the inability of their existing knowledge management methods to do it cost effectively. This fact signaled a “buying event” for enterprise human performance solutions like ours. In 2001 and 2002, when most other companies’ revenues were shrinking, Plateau’s revenues actually grew by 100 percent annually!

What do you think are the biggest challenges right now for companies that want to provide employee development and education?

I think the biggest challenge for companies wanting to provide employee development and education is a mindset change at the senior executive level. Let’s be honest; human performance management has never been a boardroom topic. Until recently, the title of Chief Learning Officer didn’t even exist. More and more organizations, however, are realizing that the greatest assets they have are their people. And now, with enterprise human performance management solutions, these assets can be groomed and developed like never before-resulting in greater productivity across the entire organization.

In order to capitalize on this opportunity, though, organizations are going to have to adopt a more strategic approach to employee development, an approach that will require a mindset change for most senior level execs. Operations executives will have to sponsor this new approach, encouraging their department vice presidents to define the associated business processes. Information technology executives will then have to sponsor and oversee the deployment of enterprise performance management solutions to enable it.

What do you like best about what you do?

I love to visit our clients. There’s nothing more redeeming than seeing our solutions being leveraged across an entire organization, enhancing literally thousands of employees’ performance-helping them do their jobs better.

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