Lifelong learning with BDO Academy

In this rapidly changing society, lifelong learning has become the new normal. Not only for employees who want to maintain their ‘job security’ and market value, but also for companies and organisations who want to bring the skills and competences of their employees in line with their strategic objectives. BDO Academy helps and facilitates companies develop their employees’ personal growth paths using a tailor-made approach.

Eddy Janssen and Jan Cumps, Partners BDO Strategy & Transformation

BDO primarily focuses its range of training options on those companies and organisations that want to develop competences or acquire knowledge within BDO’s areas of expertise. We can organise the training courses in-house, as an open formula, or in association with organisations (such as NCOI Learning, the former Kluwer Training Courses) that provide open training courses.

KPIs as benchmark for assessment

Our in-house training courses transcend the objective of merely satisfying participants. Each training course must effectively contribute to the achievement of strategic (corporate) objectives. “It’s only logical,” explains Eddy Janssen, Partner BDO Strategy & Transformation. “That’s why we always ask the same types of questions at the beginning of, or when developing, a training course: What does the organisation want to achieve or change? Bearing this in mind, what changes are needed in the workplace? Which skills and competences need to be fine-tuned? Which training course, and which format, is most suitable?” The answers to these questions form the KPIs we use as a benchmark for the assessment. Naturally, the quality of the training course is an important criterium, but even more so: is the learning applied in practice? Does it lead to results? And do these results effectively contribute to achieving the company objectives? “Only when the answer to all these questions is positive can the training course be considered successful.”

“Best practices are shared and applied as much as possible.”

Jan Cumps, Partner BDO Strategy & Transformation

4 levels of knowledge development

BDO Academy relies on 4 levels of knowledge development for the learning paths:

1. Awareness

Participants must become aware that change is necessary and that their competences must also evolve and develop. We achieve this insight using targeted workshops, often in the form of business games and role-plays. The participants play a role in a specific, simulated business environment. The challenge or challenges, and the problem to be solved, are linked to the theme to be learned (e.g. Process Management, Project Management, Change Management). The recognisability and feedback with regard to one’s own organisation contribute significantly to raising awareness of the need for change.

2. Understanding

Here the learning objective is to understand specific concepts or methods. Without the participants having to be able to apply them independently in practice, but with a view to their participation or involvement in specific initiatives or projects in the organisation or company. We translate this objective into introductory training courses or workshops in which methods and techniques are explained, and possibly supplemented with specific exercises.

3. Application

After attending this type of training course, the participants are able to independently apply methods and techniques. During these advanced training courses, we explore the themes to be learned in more detail, using a series of exercises based on projects from their own organisation or on generic cases. These specific cases form the common thread throughout the training course and are designed educationally in such a way that all the aspects to be learned are addressed in a realistic manner.
Training at this level can be followed by a (certification) examination. This may consist of a theoretical part or a practical case to be worked out. If deemed useful, internal managers can form part of the examination panel.

4. Integration

At this level, the objective is to coach the participants to apply what they have learned in the field. This takes the form of personal coaching, refresher days, peer-to-peer workshops, etc. To ensure anchoring, we take this level into account when developing the learning path and discuss all initiatives that the organisation must launch to achieve these objectives.

Tailor-made ‘blended’ programme

We do not propose any ‘off-the-shelf’ training courses. “Depending on the specific learning objectives and the participants’ existing knowledge and experience, we put together a tailor-made programme,” emphasises Jan Cumps, Partner BDO Strategy & Transformation. This results in a ‘blended’ proposal, with a possible mix of classroom or online sessions, self-study, games, exercises, cases, workshops, etc. We draw on various building blocks to compile a suitable programme. In addition to these academic aspects, we also take into account the learning culture, available budgets and technological possibilities.” Also read the various cases in this article.

Our in-house training courses transcend the objective of merely satisfying participants.

 Learning Management System

A training programme can be embedded in a Learning Management System (LMS) or learning platform. The LMS scenario is steered and monitored at the individual level. BDO Academy can offer the customer an LMS with a personalised, ‘branded’ environment or develop the training course within the customer’s existing system. LMS offers numerous possibilities for making the training course as efficient and enjoyable as possible: videos, testimonials, cases, voice-over presentations, quizzes, certification, online coaching, etc. – all integrated in a newly designed and customised interface.

Training programmes are usually defined based on a strategic vision, but they can also be integrated in project assignments. Internal employees attend short training sessions that they then apply in the project, whether or not coached by an (external or internal) specialist. This often leads to a significant boost in the learning curve of the employees concerned.

BDO Academy’s range of training options

BDO Academy has a wide range of pragmatic training courses for external customers. “Our strength lies in offering training courses in the areas where BDO, as an advisor, has extensive know-how and expertise,” says Jan Cumps. But there’s more: BDO Academy also provides the following services:

  • Hosting an online ‘branded’ learning platform. This enables our customers to offer their employees a modern learning platform through which they gain access to the training courses that are relevant to them as part of the ‘lifelong learning’ strategy.

  • Supporting ‘Instructional Design’. Together with the customer’s ‘Learning & Development’ specialists, we help transform internal needs into actual learning plans.

  • Auditing and enhancing existing training strategies, learning environments and learning paths.

Eddy Janssen and Jan Cumps continuously evaluate the range offered by BDO Academy and make adjustments where necessary. “We are also continually learning from experience with these learning paths. Best practices are shared and applied as much as possible. In addition, we closely monitor developments in different disciplines. Thanks to this input and knowledge, also contributed by our consultants with their customers, we can develop new training courses and meet specific needs and requirements in the market.”

We developed the ‘Process Management Certification Training’ programme tailored to a bank – and more specifically, for professionals responsible for optimising end-to-end business processes. The strategic objective is clear: to improve customer satisfaction combined with efficiency and risk management. The participants – carefully pre-selected based on their intrinsic skills and experiences within company-specific environments – follow a learning path for 8 days, which consists of a mix of self-study, classroom sessions, workshops with fictitious cases, and developing their own case from their particular work environment.

A certification examination takes place a few weeks after the course. The participants give a presentation to a panel (senior managers of the bank and the trainer) to demonstrate how they are applying the new knowledge in practice.

As a result of the recent COVID-19 restrictions, the programme has been completely revamped to provide support using a Learning Management System.

Finally, the programme is evaluated annually and adjusted according to developments in the bank, together with the bank’s ‘Learning & Development’ team and the process managers.

Several times a year, BDO Academy organises breakfast sessions for specialists in accountancy and tax, in which our BDO experts explain specific topics, developments and new regulations. To increase interaction and exchanges, we limit the number of participants and the duration, and place the emphasis on specific cases.

Companies active in international trade are confronted with a complex legal framework that entails a large number of compliance risks and efficiency issues. For example, the new trade agreement between Europe and the United Kingdom – also read our FAQ “Are you ready for the post-Brexit era?” clearly emphasised the need for fast, efficient and pragmatic training.

Our ‘Customs’ programme provides a learning journey to improve employees’ knowledge and competences relating to this issue. Each company has its own specific training needs, from basic knowledge to in-depth specialist knowledge. Our in-company formulas include customised e-learning paths in the company-specific look and feel, as well as in-company classroom sessions, or a combination of the two. You can also register for our open sessions, which we offer on both a classroom and an online basis.

Our experts explain the problem and new customs formalities in layman’s terms. So specifically that the participants can get to work on the issue the same day.