Combining Creativity, Analytical Focus & Organizational Engagement for Complex Business Challenges: Interview with Matt Adlai-Gail


Matt Adlai-Gail, Director of Education Services at Model N, is not only a creator and innovator of new products and learning solutions, but also a leader and problem-solver who excels at delivering innovative solutions to accelerate a range of results, including Customer Value, Learning and Behavior Change, Organizational Agility, Compliance and High Operational Performance.

A holistic thinker and collaborator, Matt combines his creativity, analytical focus and organizational engagement to tackle the thorniest business challenges. His skills and experience bridge the often-elusive gap between business need and technology solution.

In this interview, Matt talks about things close to his heart – from Customer Training to Creativity.

How critical is customer training to the success of Model N?

Customer training is truly critical to customer success, which in turn powers Model N success. Model N software plays a central role in the enterprise software suite of our Life Sciences and High Tech customers - it's not something a user can just sit down and use. The business problems our software solves are complex, and so the software is too.

The risks of using the software incorrectly are high too, because our software collectively manages $500 billion changing hands every year. So, a customer would rather not touch it than make a mistake (and use services or manual processes instead). And, so our customers not using their Model N software is a huge risk to Model N. We see that customers who have decided to have less training in the initial scope of their work with us invariably come back to my education team much later and seek more training; so there are no shortcuts to developing expertise and confidence in using our software!

How does an LMS enable this extended enterprise training?

The other challenge with how customer software training has been done traditionally is that it has been very event-driven, with live in-person courses being the predominant delivery model. But learning is a process that happens regularly during a customer's journey. They need training and knowledge to be available on demand. And, any live session needs to be recorded and curated, and made available later, thus extending the ROI of the live instructor experience. So having self-paced eLearning, plus short videos/recordings, plus reference materials, etc. is something an LMS is well-designed to manage and deliver. So by working with UpsideLMS we have created a subscription-based education offering with all the latest learning content and tools available on-demand, and distinct for each customer, to accompany them on their Model N journey.

I'll add one more point about the role of the LMS. We learned from discussions with customers that out-of-the-box training materials only get you so far, because customers also have distinct configurations, use cases and business processes. So it's important for each customer's LMS instance to support the ability for customers to add their own Work Instructions, SOPs, Job Aids, process documentation, internal training videos, and the like. UpsideLMS' portal structure has proven to be a perfect fit for our needs around extended enterprise. We provide each subscribed customer their own secure learning portal - with their own branding, all the Model N content they require, and all their own content, roles, role-based curricula, certifications, etc. - it's a powerful offering!

Where do you see learn-tech headed with respect to learning experience and performance support?

One of the biggest trends I see in the converging of learning and technology is the 'journey' approach, which manifest itself as one or more role-based learning paths, assembled from a large number of role-based short modules (not as small as microlearning, but close); and delivered in well-planned schedule. It's the way we will all be onboarded in the future, but it can go much further than that. If you add in adaptive learning, then the schedule and content itself becomes further tailored to each individual, which is even more precise and efficient.

The other big trend is embedding the application learning directly into the application, via In-App Guidance tools such as WhatFix and WalkMe. Such tools bring learning directly to the point of need (so it serves as support/help as well), and that learning is targeted by role, customer, and other user attributes. These tools also engage users, solicit feedback, and bring a wealth of analytics so that data can drive learning and support, and product improvements, in a grand virtuous cycle.

You are known to combine creativity, analytical focus and organizational engagement to tackle the thorniest business challenges. What’s your recipe for solutioning?

I love that question! I think it all starts with really good listening. I've been a Product Manager in the SaaS world for 13 years, and the number one rule for product managers is to listen to customers - what are they trying to accomplish? And listening deeply not only to words but also to tone (detecting frustration, delight, indifference, engagement, etc.) and listening for what is not said. Once you have a good handle on your customers' most important goals and problems, you are then able to focus your creativity and analysis, and collaborate across the organization to find scalable and adaptable solutions. It also helps to have a grounding in adult learning, because while technologies changes, human nature stays the same!