"Some of the technology and programming hasn't changed," Messmore explains, "but the way of learning it has. Now you have interactive CD-ROMs and the like."
In addition, some of the company's new hires had never seen an AS/400 before. Fresh out of college, but with little or no RPG training, they had to be introduced to new ways of programming. With that in mind, Cintas turned to The 400 School, which could offer more personalized instruction.
As of two years ago, Cintas began having its management trainees (both new hires with computer degrees and standard hires with real-world computing experience but little AS/400 background) take The 400 Schools five-day "AS/400 Concepts and Facilities" course. Using its own onsite training facilities, which consist of an AS/400 test box and networked workstations, Cintas now hosts annual training sessions led by a representative of The 400 School.
Before taking the course, management trainees are encouraged to listen to the cassette tapes and review the IBM-supplied CD-ROMs-called "AS/400: Getting to Know Your System"-that came with the company's many AS/400s. This primer helps course participants become familiar with basic AS/400 operations and terminology.
In addition, the company allows its employees to take other job-related seminars. If, for example, someone needs to learn Java*, the company will spring for an outside course. Cintas also encourages its employees to share knowledge internally. According to Messmore, "This is a great and relatively inexpensive way to keep our IT people informed."
Omnium Worldwide took a different approach to its educational needs. Rather than have onsite, classroom-based training, it turned to CBT. Omnium, which is based in Omaha, Neb., specializes in cost-containment and accounts receivable recovery for a host of customer companies.