Imagine 40 new analysts scheduled to take an in-person, seven-day accounting training on U.S. GAAP during their third week on the job. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, these new hires are not allowed in the office and must now take all-virtual training. Welcome to 2020…. a year of uncertainty, flexibility, and adaptability!
In today’s blog post, I would like to share how we were able to work with our client and quickly transform this seven-day, in-person training into an interactive and engaging online experience. Each year, our client, a large public bank headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, makes a significant investment into their newly hired analysts by putting them through a nine-week training program, seven days of which is with GAAP Dynamics learning about U.S. GAAP. This would have been our fifth year delivering in-person training, which teaches accounting and reporting issues faced by the banking industry through a number of example scenarios and explanations that make U.S. GAAP seem “simple and easy to understand.” Each year, we receive the same feedback – that out of the nine weeks of training, our week of training was the analysts’ favorite, because they had FUN!
COVID-19 did its best to put a damper on the festivities this year. We were scheduled to teach in mid-July, but those plans were put on pause. In late May, our client made the decision to deliver all nine weeks of training virtually, including our seven-day course that was rescheduled for mid-August. The client’s first thought was to convert each day into its own separate webinar. But can you imagine sitting through an eight-hour webinar for seven straight days? Neither could we!
A new plan:
We quickly put an alternative plan together that included a variety of interactions (and some fun!) throughout the day:
- "Wake-up" webinar: This 30-minute Zoom meeting with the participants kicked off the day at 8:30am and gave GAAP Dynamics an opportunity to answer any questions from the previous day, go through the daily schedule, and set the tone for the day. Additionally, it provided participants a chance to earn points by answering trivia questions. We also had themes for each day, which included Cleveland day, beach day, college day, wacky Wednesday, and USA day. As one participant noted, “it really got us excited to jump into the materials for the day.”
- Online, self-study course: Utilizing our online learning platform, we provided the analysts access to several of our self-study, eLearning courses, which they were required to complete. Throughout the seven-day program, participants completed a total of 16 online courses. These courses were hosted on our online learning platform, complete with a bank-branded home page. Included on the platform was an “ask the instructor” feature, meaning that although they were working independently, participants were never really alone.
- "The real-deal" webinar: Each afternoon, we’d host a 2.5-hour webinar, where we summarized the information covered in the self-study courses, discussed example scenarios, and reviewed how U.S. GAAP was being applied by the bank. We also administered a "daily quiz” to ensure that participants were absorbing the key learning points. We believe one of the key parts of the training was our detailed review with participants of the client’s Form 10-K - how many employees get a chance to read their new employer’s financial statements? Each participant received a hard copy of the bank’s most recent 10-K, and we encouraged them to take notes throughout the training. We also developed a scavenger hunt game where participants had to find answers to questions about specific disclosures within the 10-K.
- Group work: Each day ended with group work. The class was divided into teams for the purpose of developing a group presentation to be presented to the entire class on the last day of training. The presentations walked through a specific accounting topic, using financial statements of a peer bank as an illustration. We even offered “virtual office hours,” giving teams the opportunity to ask any questions on the content and share their presentations to get our thoughts and suggestions.
They had fun! There was interaction and engagement, the presentations were great, and the participants LEARNED about U.S. GAAP! Despite some slight technical difficulties, the training was a huge overall success. We had to completely redo the design of the training within a tight time frame, and we could not have done it without the flexibility and support of our client, as well as the amazing participants which, despite the situation, gave it their all! They played along with the theme days, answered and asked questions during the webinar, took advantage of the group presentation office hours, and showed their commitment to their new employer. Here are a few comments we received from some participants:
“Definitely enjoyed it. I liked how you made it interactive and funny for us! You kept me interested in a topic that can be boring! Thanks!”
“You have made this experience so fun for us! Thanks so much for all of your effort and enthusiasm -- it's so appreciated!”
“I really enjoyed hearing the explanations from the perspective of the experts. Not only that, it truly helped me understand the topics, even taxes! Great way to teach!”
We really enjoyed these seven days, and even though it was a bit different than what we were used to doing for this program, we proved that good training can be delivered virtually. We are looking forward to next year, when hopefully we can be in-person again- but if we can’t, we’ve got a plan!
P.S: we also really enjoyed the training’s mascot for the week! Meet Cobalt – a participant’s cat that loves GAAP!
About GAAP Dynamics
We’re a DIFFERENT type of accounting training firm. We don’t think of training as a “tick the box” exercise, but rather an opportunity to empower your people to help them make the right decisions at the right time. Whether it’s U.S. GAAP training, IFRS training, or audit training, we’ve helped thousands of professionals since 2001. Our clients include some of the largest accounting firms and companies in the world. As lifelong learners, we believe training is important. As CPAs, we believe great training is vital to doing your job well and maintaining the public trust. We want to help you understand complex accounting matters and we believe you deserve the best training in the world, regardless of whether you work for a large, multinational company or a small, regional accounting firm. We passionately create high-quality training that we would want to take. This means it is accurate, relevant, engaging, visually appealing, and fun. That’s our brand promise. Want to learn more about how GAAP Dynamics can help you? Let’s talk!
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