Convergence Training Upgrades DVD Services and Merchant Account

In order to provide better service and product fulfillment, we have upgraded our DVD processing. We are now using a company called Acutrack who have better tracking and shipping methods, and they also offer higher quality printing and burning capabilities. I’ve been working with Raj Barman and Daphne Persis to get our DVD projects setup and tested and they have provided truly exceptional service as well as high-quality products. We have complete faith that Acutrack will continue to provide exceptional fulfillment services.

Keep reading to see new or upgraded features.

Tracking Numbers
Upon ordering, customers receive an email with a tracking number to track exactly when their products will arrive.

Accurate Processing
Orders are tracked during production using a barcode on the disc and on the cover of the DVD. This ensures your orders are processed accurately.

Improved Reliability
We’ve been provided with a dedicated account manager who will quickly respond to any questions or concerns.

So, if you’ve thought about ordering either our Surface Miner Training DVD, or one of our Environmental, Health, & Safety DVDs, you’re experience will be better than ever before.

We’ve also upgraded our merchant account to include American Express credit card processing. In the next few days, the account will be ready to process. In the mean time, give us a call if you want to order and only have an American Express card.

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Convergence Training Exhibiting at AGG1 2009 in Orlando, FL

Convergence Training will be hosting a booth at AGG1, the 2009 Aggregates Forum and Expo. The conference will take place March 9-12, 2009 and will be co-located with the World of Asphalt 2009 Show and Conference in Orlando, FL.

We will be displaying our suite of MSHA Part 46 compliancy solutions ranging from Surface Miner Training Basic ($349) up to our Surface Miner Training Advanced with MSHA Compliancy Tools ($1,399). If you would like to stop by and visit us, our booth number is 426. See a map of our booth at the convention.

For more information about AGG1, visit the official AGG1 site here.

For more information about the World of Asphalt 2009, visit the official World of Asphalt site here.

For more information about our Surface Miner Training products that offer MSHA Part 46 compliancy solutions for Surface Mines and Mining Contractors, visit our MSHASafetyTraining.com website.



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Updated Interface for Convergence Contractor Training Management

We’ve almost finished updating the user interface for our contractor management software. We’ve added a lot of details to our “Convergence Skin.” We plan to offer custom skins that feature your company’s logo and colors. I’ve just chosen a few screenshots to display here so you can get an idea of what our system looks and feels like. If you’re interested in seeing more, please contact me at kdellavalle@capstonetechnology.com.

For now, here are some screenshots of our default skin:

 

Image 1
The image on the left is the “Training Plan” – contractors/visitors/vendors see the training they are required to complete when they login. It can be grouped into “Activities”, and when you hover the mouse over a module, it displays a thumbnail of the contents.

Image 2
The image in the center is the “Activities” management screen. Activities are just a way to group training.

Image 3
The image on the right is the “Session History” management screen. This is a way to get a window into the activities of the users. Here, you can see tests taken, their passing score, and even the answers that were given.

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Upgrade Microsoft Framework Using Windows Update

Microsoft just released new Windows updates that will significantly reduce the time it takes to download our software and courses!

Because we used the latest technology to develop our software, some of our customers have been missing the required components. Our installer recognizes this and downloads the required components – this can take a long time! If you’ve installed all the latest updates (specifically Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1), downloading CTV should take less than 5 minutes on a broadband connection. For more details on how to make sure you have the required components, see the documents below:


Upgrade Guide for Vista Users

 

Upgrade Guide for XP Users

 

Email us with questions.

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Convergence Training Viewer – The Installation is Worth the Wait

Our Vision

When we set out to create our free training viewer software, we wanted a platform that was fast, stable, and provided a rich graphical interface to our customers. We believe that an application should work well and be easy on the eyes. The technology we chose was Windows Presentation Foundation, or WPF. For those unfamiliar with WPF, it allows us to create applications that behave more like Flash animations (animated menus, glowing button highlights, interactive interface, etc.), and are built around a powerful and stable core (earlier frameworks have a number of known bugs). Which would you choose – older technology that most people have, but contains known bugs, or newer technology that might take longer to download but would be more stable and perform better?

Required Components

We chose the latest technology and refused to compromise on the quality of our product which means that users of our product must have the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 (service pack 1) installed on their system. Currently, this is an optional windows update, but is scheduled to be a required update on Windows XP and Vista users early this year (2009). For more information about getting the framework via windows updates, check out this Microsoft blog posting:

When will the .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 be pushed to windows update?

Long Download/Install Time

We’ve designed our installation process to work for everyone, regardless of what software the users may or may not have installed – it will download and install necessary components, including the .NET Framework. This can be helpful, but it can also increase your download time if you don’t have the required components. If the necessary components are already installed on your computer, then the installation of Convergence Training Viewer is typically as short as a few minutes. If you can bear with the long Microsoft download/install, we promise the CTV install will be quick and painless.

Other WPF Applications

Convergence Training is not alone in embracing the new Microsoft technology to build software. Visit the Microsoft Community Showcase to see other applications using this new and innovative technology.
Visit Microsoft’s WPF Showcase

Worth the Wait

We appreciate the patience of our users who have experienced longer installation times and less than elegant installation. We’ve investigated several techniques to shorten download times, such as using older versions of controls, including the components in the download file, and more. All of these approaches have had their own unique drawbacks forcing us to choose the least problematic solution. For those of you wanting to claim your free course, please contact us and we will be happy to send it to your physical address on a CD-ROM. For everyone else, we will gladly send you the necessary Microsoft .NET components on a CD-ROM which will help alleviate long download time.

Given the quality of our training products, we believe that our software and training courses are worth the wait. Once you are finished with the installation process, you will be glad you took the time. If you would prefer to receive the files on a disk, send us an email.

Again, we apologize for any difficulties you may have experienced and appreciate your patience while technology catches up with our innovative approach to training. We are committed to supporting our product and ensuring your ongoing satisfaction by helping you build a successful training program.

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MSHASafetyTraining.com Website Launched

Last week, we launched our newest website, MSHASafetyTraining.com, which focuses exclusively on helping surface mines and surface mine contractors become compliant with MSHA’s Part 46.

This new site simplifies the requirements and directs viewers to exactly what they need. We even provide free resources to help you complete your Training Plan and Records of Training.

Here are some of the things we hope you’ll find useful:

  • A visual overview of MSHA Part 46 training requirements
  • FREE samples of Training Plan and Record of Training templates
  • FREE Part 46 resources including downloads and links to make compliance easier
  • And of course, our award-winning line of Surface Miner Training products

Visit MSHASafetyTraining.com and let us know what you think. And if you still have questions, feel free to contact us. We’ll be happy to help.

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Special Project: 3D Virtual Mill

Chris Wilson, our Lead 3D Designer, has been working on putting the final touches on our 3D Virtual Mill. A number of our other Meda Designers have had a hand in creating specific pieces of equipment. Among other areas, the mill features chip yard, digester, evaporators, recovery boiler, recaust area, bleach plant and paper machine. Our 3D Virtual Mill enables us to create training in the same fashion as our custom training, but for sites that need to cover fundamentals before focusing on site-specific processes and procedures.

This is one of the preliminary renders and still has some more equipment to add. This will be the basis for our upcoming Pulp and Paper Fundamentals courses.

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Convergence Training Releases 9 New Training Modules

I just published the last 9 modules in our EHS Training curriculum. These modules have been updated with new regulatory information, updated graphics and animations, and improved test questions.

  • Aerial Work Platforms
  • Ergonomics
  • Hand and Power Tools
  • Hand Safety
  • Hazard Communication
  • Lead Awareness
  • Pedestrian Safety
  • Radiation Safety
  • Storm Water Pollution Prevention

To get more information, you can visit our website ThinkConvergence.com. There you can download free trials of any of our titles using Convergence Training Viewer. In addition, these new and updated courses are also available as SCORM packages that will work with any SCORM conformant LMS.

This screenshot shows the 9 new modules which brings our catalog size up to 32 training modules with one module to come next week.

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MSHA DVD Site Launched

Earlier this week, we launched a new micro-site dedicated to our Surface Miner Training DVD. Our Surface Miner Training DVD boxed-set provides 8 hours of MSHA Part 46 compliancy training. When purchasing the DVD, you’ll get:

  • Over 8 hours of training
  • 27 training modules based on MSHA’s Part 46 requirements
  • A quick and easy way to deliver required training
  • Access to printable tests and answer guides
  • Award winning training (1st Place at MSHA’s 2008 TRAM Conference)

Click here to visit our new site

Of course, our Surface Miner Training can also be packaged with Convergence Training Viewer, or it can be sold as a SCORM package that can be used in any SCORM conformant LMS.

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Free Training Viewer Featured on Microsoft Website

Today our free training viewer, Convergence Training Viewer, has been featured on the Microsoft WindowsClient.NET WPF Showcase. Our application uses Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), the latest technology framework from Microsoft, to provide rich user experiences to our viewers.

For those who don’t know, Convergence Training Viewer is a free, downloadable training access portal designed to view interactive training media. The Training Viewer provides anyone, anywhere, at any time access to a rapidly growing catalog of computer-based training modules.

Convergence Training Viewer requires a complex and highly graphical feature set that must be presented in a way that first time users can grasp the essential elements with little or no prior instruction. WPF is a critical component in achieving that goal. It uses .NET 3.5 SP1 and Microsoft BITS technology.

Convergence Training Viewer delivers training content using a single workstation – Best for smaller companies that need quality training material with minimum administrative functionality or trainers who wish to present in a group or classroom setting.

Check it out on the showcase and check out some of the other applications to take advantage of WPF.

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New Convergence Training Viewer Screenshots

I had saved a bunch of screenshots in various places over the last few weeks and needed to pull them all together in one location so I could get to them all easily. Roman (Director of Sales here at Convergence) also needed some for an email he was putting together. I thought since I have them all together I would post some of the shots with comments.

New screenshot with only a few modules installed, you can see the icon for presenter mode on the First Aid modules:

This screenshot shows modules in various stages – installed content, content being installed, and content that is currently downloading:

There isn’t much new with this one, but it does show the details of our integrated catalog:

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Considering Hard and Soft Benefits in ROI

Hard Benefits and ROI

Benefits can be broken down into hard benefits and soft benefits. Hard benefits are those that (a) can be attributed solely to the training program and (b) can be assigned a specific financial value. Soft benefits are those that (a) cannot be solely attributed to the training program and/or (b) cannot be readily assigned a specific financial value.

An example of a hard benefit of a training program is the reduction in total costs of that program when compared with the previous program. In the examples above, the Convergence training program costs $420,000 and the company’s current training program costs $600,000 over the same period. A hard benefit of the Convergence program, then, is the $180,000 saved.

Because soft benefits are difficult to assign a financial value to, some companies stop here when determining ROI.

Placing our figures in the equation, we get:

ROI = [Benefits/Costs] x 100, we find that:
= [$180,000/$420,000] x 100
= .4285 x 100 = 42.85 percent over the eight-year time period

We can convert the ROI over the eight years to an average of 5.35 percent per year (42.85/8 = 5.35). Considering only the hard benefits of the Convergence training program, the break-even point is just under twenty years.

Considering Soft Benefits in ROI

To create a more accurate assessment of ROI, many companies go on to consider the training program’s soft benefits as well.

The soft benefits of a more efficient, effective training program could include things like increased company productivity, safer workers, reduced absenteeism, greater customer satisfaction, an improved reputation amongst the company’s customer base, and higher employee morale. In each case, it’s reasonable to assume that a more effective training program could contribute to the outcome, but it’s impossible to say the training program was solely responsible and/or to assign a financial value to the benefit.

One way to assess the soft benefits of a training program is consider them in the context of the achievement of specific, quantifiable goals. A company considering a new training program could identify areas where improvement could be achieved and set a goal to address each area of concern.

For example, one goal might be to decrease the downtime of a paper machine. Statistics measuring the machine’s downtime, before and after the training program is implemented, can be compared providing one measure of the training program’s soft benefits. More sophisticated analyses would take multiple factors into consideration—machine downtime, savings from regulatory infractions, savings on employee sick pay resulting from injuries, and more—to find more soft benefits of the program.

For demonstration purposes, assume that before implementing a new training program, a facility’s paper machine typically produced 7 tons of tissue per hour, and that tissue was sold at a market rate of $2,000 per ton. Downtime, lost time, and quality issues resulted in an overall machine efficiency rating of 90 percent, meaning that the machine produced saleable rolls only 90 percent of the time. The ten percent downtime over one year equates to $12,264,000 in lost revenue.

Now assume the company installs a new training program and sets a goal to increase the overall machine efficiency by two percent. Assuming the goal is met, the increase in the machine’s efficiency will result in $245,280 of additional revenue in the first year. Over an eight-year period, the increased revenue totals $1,962,240; Chart D below illustrates the increase in revenue.

It is not possible to attribute all of this increased revenue solely to the training program, yet it is reasonable to assume the training program played a role and some portion of the increased revenue should be considered a soft benefit of the training program. Some percentage of the $1,962,240 in increased revenue over the eight-year time period could be assigned as a soft benefit of the training program; each company will make its own decision how much.

Businesses typically assign anywhere from 10-50 percent of the value of their soft benefits to ROI calculations. For demonstration purposes, let’s make the conservative estimate that only 20% of the soft benefits of decreased machine downtime can be assigned to the training program’s ROI. That means the training program’s soft benefit would be an increase in revenue of just over $380,000 over the eight-year period.

We can now adjust our ROI calculation to the following:
ROI = [(Hard Benefits + Soft Benefits)/ Costs] x 100
= [($180,000 + $380,000)/$420,000] x 100
= [$560,000/$420,000] x 100
= 1.33 x 100 = 133 percent over eight years

We can then convert the ROI to a figure for one year: 133/8 = 16.625 percent per year. Using this ROI calculation, the break-even point of the training program is just over 6 years (100/16.625 = 6.01).

It’s reasonable to assume the training program would provide additional soft benefits beyond merely the increase in paper machine operating time. To more accurately assess ROI, those additional soft benefits should also be considered. Examples could include such hard-to-quantify elements as improved employee morale, greater customer satisfaction, and a resulting increase in the company’s public reputation. Adding these additional soft benefits to the calculation would increase the ROI and reduce the break-even point even more.

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