Micro Training Associates  
 
homeabout usclientsphilosophyportfoliocase studiessuccess factorsFAQscontact us
 
 
Let Micro Training Associates SHARPEN your skills
FAQs
  FAQs
  Here are answers to the questions we’re asked most frequently. If you need additional information, please don’t hesitate to contact us!
FAQs About The Company
  • When was your company established?

    MTA was incorporated in 1983 as one of the first firms in the country specializing in the custom development of Computer Based Training (CBT). We have since expanded our service portfolio to encompass the custom development of all types of traditional training as well as all forms of e-learning.

  • Are you a private or publicly traded company?

    We are a privately held, certified woman-owned small business.

  • If your company has a distinctive identity, how would you describe it?

    Our company identity is based on this tag line: “Micro Training Associates, Inc. – Providing blue chip custom training development services to blue chip companies since 1983.”

This tag line is an appropriate reflection of our industry niche. We strive to attract and retain top-tier clients and enjoy taking on highly challenging and visible initiatives. Our expertise allows us to accept extremely large engagements and we are often awarded projects of critical strategic importance because our clients know they can count on us to come through, no matter how difficult the project circumstances. We enjoy -- and excel at -- "fire drills" and we take great pride in being able to "do the impossible."

Return to Top

FAQs About Our Customers/Competitors
  • What is the size of your customer base?

    We have worked with approximately 50 companies over the years, and in large companies we often provide support to multiple divisions and/or business units.

  • Who are your typical customers (i.e. do you specialize in a certain industry?)

    We have served a wide range of industries but primarily work in the communications, financial services, and healthcare industries.

  • Who are some of your key customers?

    The majority of MTA clients are Fortune 100 companies. Below is a representative list of past and present clients:

    • ABN-AMRO Bank
    • ACNielsen
    • ADT Security Services
    • Aetna Insurance Company
    • American Express
    • Ameritech
    • AT&T
    • Bell Atlantic
    • BellSouth Telecommunications
    • Citibank Travelers
    • Department of Defense
    • Digital Equipment Corporation
    • Dun & Bradstreet
    • Fleet Bank
    • FleetBoston Financial
    • GE Capital
    • GTE
    • IBM
    • John Hancock
    • Johnson Controls
    • JP Morgan
    • Lederle International
    • MassMutual
    • Mobil Research Corporation
    • Northwestern Mutual Life
    • Otis Elevator Company
    • Panama Canal Commission
    • Pfizer Global Pharmaceutical
    • PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
    • Prime Computer
    • Prudential
    • SC Johnson Wax
    • Simon & Schuster
    • Smith-Kline Beecham
    • SunLife Assurance of Canada
    • Travelers/Winterthur
    • Tyco Fire and Security
    • United HealthCare
    • Unisys
    • UNUMProvident
  • Who would you consider your key competitors?

    Our competitors range from the consulting practices of extremely large firms to small- or mid-sized custom training development firms.

  • How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?

    Key differentiators for the MTA team are that we:

      Excel in "high risk, high challenge" situations and successfully complete engagements that few other firms will consider, including those that require extremely large-scale development within short timeframes.

    Example 1: Development of 16,000 pages of instructor-led material AND development of an online university delivering web-based testing with LMS capabilities for BellSouth. This project was completed within a 8-month period.

    Example 2: Development of 91 hours of core competency CBT within a 9-month timeframe for The Travelers Companies.

    • Have an unparalleled record for on-time delivery. (see above examples)
    • Accept assignments that have a low probability of success because of their difficulty or complexity, and consistently develop training that succeeds.
    • Example: We were retained to train BellSouth Consumer Customer Service Reps on how to sell BellSouth’s Internet offerings. Reps possessed little knowledge of computers or the Internet and management believed that Reps would fail in this role. No other RBOC had attempted internal sales of an Internet service at this point in time. We developed Instructor-led training and delivered it to 1,981 reps. Of the 1.981 reps trained, only 10 scored less than 80%. The remaining 1,971 achieved an average test score of 96.77%. Even better, the reps exceeded their sales targets by more than 30% in the first 6 months following the completion of training.

    • Have an exceptionally seasoned and mature team composed of individuals with exceptional design and consulting skills.
    • Have an exceptionally strong development methodology and project management process.
    • Deliver “blue chip” results at highly competitive prices.

      Return to Top

FAQs About Content Development
  • What types of programs and products do you develop?

    We primarily develop interactive e-learning programs, classroom-based training (including print and video components), and blended programs. We also develop performance support systems and components, assist with organizational reengineering, and help with the development of best practices.

  • How can your e-learning courses be distributed?

    We develop e-learning for delivery via Network, Intranet, Internet, and CD-ROM.

    Return to Top

FAQs About Our Design Process
  • What is your design and development methodology?

    Micro Training Associates staff members follow an internally-developed Instructional Systems Development Methodology based on the classical ISD model, but adapted for the development of e-learning and blended programs. This methodology is designed to ensure that each training program:

    • Addresses the skills and knowledge which are critical to competency on the job and which support the organization’s business objectives
    • Generates optimum learning results with optimum return on the training investment
    • Follows an efficient and effective project management process
    • Promotes effective communication among members of the project team

While it is often necessary to abbreviate portions of this approach due to project timelines, the full-blown MTA development process consists of the following phases, milestone activities, and deliverables. Please note that this process description reflects development of a variety of media (e-learning, workbook, instructor-led, etc.). For a program requiring only one medium, certain tasks would be eliminated or reduced.

Pre-Project Phase: Needs Analysis and Cost/benefit Analysis

This phase includes the following tasks:

  • Analysis of the deficits which appear to require training as a solution
  • Recommendation of training and non-training interventions
  • Recommendation of an optimum training medium or mix of media (e.g. e-learning, workbook, instructor-led, etc.)
  • Recommendation of optimum instructional strategies
  • Broad cost estimates and timeframes for training development
  • Cost-benefit projections based on anticipated return on investment and payback period
  • Establishment of a project budget

Major deliverable: Project description document

Project Phase I: Front End Analysis

This phase includes the following tasks:

  • Analysis of primary and secondary training audiences to understand learning styles, preferences, baseline skills and knowledges, etc.
  • Task analysis of the competencies which training must develop, broken down into skills and knowledges
  • Analysis of the learning environment to determine delivery capabilities and/or constraints
  • High-level analysis of the courses to be developed to identify major training components and the interrelationships of these components
  • Analysis of proposed media strategies to determine an optimum use of and “mix” of media based on the goals of the effort and return on investment considerations
  • Analysis of the requirements for student registration, testing, recordkeeping, and reporting
  • Analysis of the requirements for training administration
  • For e-learning, analysis of the appropriate authoring tool or tools to support tool selection
  • Development of a “training blueprint” and high-level curriculum plan for all training components
  • Development of media utilization guidelines (i.e. how e-learning will be used, how multimedia elements will be incorporated, how adjunct media such as workbooks will be used, etc.)
  • If no Learning Management System (LMS) is currently in place, development of specifications for student registration, testing, recordkeeping, and reporting to support LMS development or acquisition
  • Development of recommendations for training delivery and administration

Major deliverable: Project specification document

Project Phase II: Design

This phase includes the following tasks:

  • Gathering and in-depth analysis of source content
  • Development of instructional objectives
  • Identification of training prerequisites
  • Development of pre- and post-tests
  • Development of detailed content outlines for each training component (e.g. e-learning, workbook, etc.)
  • Development of a prototype or prototypes demonstrating the GUI for e-learning as well as the effectiveness of the proposed instructional approach

Major deliverables: Detailed design document and prototype(s)

Project Phase III: Development

This phase includes the following tasks:

  • Creation of scripts and/or storyboards for all e-learning components
  • Development of draft versions of all other training materials (workbooks, student handouts, job aids, facilitator’s guides, etc.)
  • Coding and assembly of the first version of e-learning (including production of initial versions of multimedia components, if any)
  • Revision of the e-learning components as necessary to prepare for testing
  • Performance of developmental and field testing of all training components
  • Incorporation of the results of testing in all deliverables
  • Finalization of course materials
  • Completion of any documentation as required to support client maintenance of the learning program

Major deliverables: Scripts and/or storyboards for e-learning components, drafts of all other training materials, coded versions of e-learning components, summaries of beta and field test results, finalized versions of training and supplemental materials, maintenance documentation


Project Phase IV: Evaluation

This phase encompasses the following tasks:

  • Developmental testing performed throughout preceding phases to evaluate and ensure instructional integrity and usability of the program.
  • Completion of comparative studies to determine how training results compare to results obtained via other training methods; validation studies to determine whether training has achieved its original objectives in terms of job performance; and cost/benefit studies to identify savings attributable to training along with payback period and return on investment.

Major deliverables: Developmental test results, comparative studies, validation studies, cost/benefit studies

  • Do you utilize instructional tools or templates for course development?

    In very large projects we sometimes create development templates for various types of content to unify the work of multiple project members. These templates are custom-designed for each client.

  • What is the typical make-up of a design & development team?

The make-up of the team is determined by the size, complexity and timeframe of the project. A small, relatively simple project might require only one instructional designer/project manager and, for e-learning programs, one programmer and/or graphic artist. A large and/or more complex project typically requires a Project Director, Project Manager/Lead Instructional Designer; supporting Instructional Designers; and, for e-learning projects, multiple Programmers. (Note: Our Programmers are also graphic artists and GUI designers.)

  • How do you work with client personnel during a project?

We work with clients in a variety of ways based on their needs and desires. Some clients wish to be involved only as Subject Matter Experts and reviewers; others are involved as active members of the instructional design or programming team. In many cases we also provide “skills transfer” to our clients so they can maintain the courses we create. Our skills transfer sessions address any and all phases of the instructional design and development process, from program design through coding and evaluation.

  • What kinds of content do you typically work with ( e.g. IT skills, soft skills, industry specific skills, etc.)?

Over the years we’ve worked with all types of content, but the majority of our projects involve the development of product and sales training, customer service training, management/supervisory training, and end user training.

  • How do you typically structure a course?

The course structure is highly variable and dependent on our client’s needs, preferences, instructional goals, business objectives, and budget. However, many of our clients request or require a highly granular, EPSS-compatible training design that allows for “just-in-time” access to training components along with other performance support elements.

  • What types of interactions do you typically design into courses?

We develop all types of interactions as required to achieve instructional objectives and develop authentic competencies. We also encourage the use of comprehensive tests administered at course completion to verify mastery of course objectives.

  • What types of media do you typically use within a course (e.g. video, audio, animation, graphics, etc.)?

Our courses nearly always include audio, animation, and graphics. Video is primarily used in courses which need to model actual behaviors such selling skills, coaching and supervision, performance management, etc.

Return to Top

FAQs About Our Development Process
  • Where do you typically work (e.g. at the client site, in your own facilities)?

The majority of our work is completed in our own facilities. We typically work on-site for brief periods of time during the kickoff phase and at key project milestones.

  • Do you have all custom development skills in house or do you have partnerships with other vendors?

We have relationships with selected vendors for the production of audio and video. We also have strategic partnerships with two other custom development firms in case a project requires an extremely large project team. These are firms we have partnered with successfully for many years so our work philosophies, methods, and approaches are similar and seamless.

  • What tools do you use to author your courses?

We use a variety of authoring tools depending upon our client’s needs/preferences and/or the requirements of the project. We primarily use the Macromedia suite of products for developing CD-ROM-based training. For web-based training we mainly use Flash, Director, native HTML, and JavaScript.

We also have our own custom authoring tool which consists of a proprietary set of Lotus Notes-based CBT development templates. These templates allow us to develop and deliver traditional CBT via Notes or Domino. These templates are currently in use at Prudential and JPMorganChaseandCo.

  • Can you develop e-learning content in such a way as to separate content from presentation?

Yes. Where the content is highly volatile or needs to be translated into multiple languages, we can embed the content in a separate database or databases and construct the program to dynamically populate the training based on characteristics of the learner gathered at the time of login.

  • Have you developed multi-lingual courses? Which languages?

Yes, we have had courses translated into French, German, Spanish, and Italian. We have had selected portions of courses translated into Arabic, Chinese and Japanese.

  • What’s a typical timeframe for an end-to-end development project?

Our “typical” timeframe is 3 to 6 months, but the timeframe has varied from 2 weeks to more than a year.

Return to Top

FAQs About Our Quality Control Process
  • How do you ensure product quality?

Instructional quality is assured through developmental testing and piloting; content quality through SME reviews; interface quality through usability testing; media quality through developmental testing and piloting; and navigation quality through usability testing.

Return to Top

FAQs About Our Adherence to E-learning Industry Standards
  • Do your e-learning products support industry standards? (e.g. AICC, IMS, SCORM) so that they can be integrated with Learning Management Systems?

Yes, our authoring tools are selected to be AICC- and SCORM-compatible and we have experience interfacing our programs with both AICC- and SCORM-compliant LMSs, as well as proprietary LMSs.

  • In e-learning courses, what types of user information can you track to feed back to an LMS (e.g. time on topic, time on page, test scores, etc.)?

We can track any and all types of information, as required by our client.

Return to Top

FAQs About Our E-learning Distribution Capabilities
  • For downloadable e-learning courses, what’s an average sized download?

This is highly variable depending on the media required in the course, but in all courses we keep the downloadable elements as small as possible to prevent placing undue stress on the technology infrastructure.

  • Do you typically need to provide any plug-ins in order for your e-learning products to run? What are they?

If our client prohibits the use of plug-ins, we develop so that plug-ins are not required. Otherwise we may develop the course to require the Flash and/or Shockwave plug-in, or occasionally the Authorware plug-in.

Return to Top

FAQs About Other Services
  • Do you provide hosting services for your custom developed products?

Yes, we can and do provide this service for certain clients.

  • Do you provide access to an “off-the-shelf” library of content?

No. Our focus is exclusively on custom development of “works made for hire” and our work products are owned by our clients.

  • If you develop Instructor led training, do you ever teach the courses you develop or rely on the customer to supply instructors?

We provide course delivery services through our own select base of contract instructors. If our clients prefer to use their own delivery resources, we’re happy to develop the training materials and deliver Train-the-Trainer sessions.

  • Will you work on a portion of a project (e.g. help a client with the requirements analysis and design, but have the client develop the course)?

Yes, we’re happy to assist with any or all phases of the project.

  • What other services, if any, do you provide?

We provide a range of other custom services including consultation on best practices, development of instructional design standards and methodologies, “skills transfer”, strategic planning and business case development, etc.

Return to Top

FAQs About The Support We Provide
  • What kind of support do you provide to customers for the custom courses you develop?

We provide both technical support and content support.

  • Can courses be updated by you if the content changes down the road? Would you do it or could the client do it themselves?

We work in both ways. We frequently update courses for our clients, but we also provide them with source code for their training applications so they have the ability to update content if they wish to do so. In these cases we often conduct “skills transfer” to teach them how to maintain the courses using the authoring tools selected for the project.

Return to Top

FAQs About Our Pricing Structure
  • What is your pricing structure for custom development?

We have conducted projects on a fixed price basis, but “hourly charges + expenses” is our preferred pricing structure and in some cases, is essential.

  • Do you provide any type of volume discount if we work with you on multiple courses? What might they be?

We are able to offer economy-of-scale discounts on multiple courses. This would be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Return to Top

 
what our clients are saying
  While our short time frame and volume of work seemed insurmountable, the Micro Training team was never daunted by the challenge. They are accurate and attentive to details. They also work well with others and encourage a team atmosphere. They genuinely care about others but never lose their sense of professionalism. I highly recommend them for your training project. Micro Training Associates is second to none!
 
 
Training Project Manager
Telecommunications Company
 

 

  Instructional Design Tip  
 
 
Baffled by what colors to use in your multimedia program? If the program incorporates a creative theme, take a cue from the colors it suggests.

 

 

 
 
 
home  |  about us  |  clients  |  philosophy  |  portfolio  |  case studies  |  success factors  |  FAQs  |  contact us

created by absoluteTHINKING