Wasted dollars, time

August 1, 2007 By    

I just finished reading your article (CETP e-learning) in June’s LPGas magazine and felt an overwhelming need to write this letter.

At least 10 years ago, Propane Resources introduced something called the Training Connection, which was an interactive CD-ROM that offered different levels of training in the propane industry.

The effort was funded by 10 independent retailers who invested in it because they felt it would complement and augment CETP as employees would not have to travel anywhere to do their training. The CDs could be updated very easily as things in the industry changed.

We sold the CD to more than 400 companies.

In 2001, when the Propane Education & Research Council was making noises about starting their own interactive training, we approached PERC for a $400,000 funding request that included upgrading and updating. This would also have included free distribution to 10,000 locations in the United States. For an additional $100,000, the programs could have included availability on the Internet with a state-of-the-art tracking system to track employee completion.

If my math is correct, that would have been a $500,000 investment. Instead, PERC forked out $5 million for the development of a new interactive program.

In 2002, PERC purchased CETP from the National Propane Gas Association for $1.6 million. The program needed such a tremendous overhaul at the time of the purchase that it made no sense other than for PERC to replace NPGA as the training arm of the propane industry.

The building of the new DVDs from scratch resulted in a delayed fulfillment of PERC’s mission to make safety and training available in this format to the industry, a full 10 years after PERC was started. The rejection of all programs besides CETP not only resulted in delaying the product, but wasted millions of industry dollars and countless hours of volunteer time reinventing the wheel.

Also, we would have made the product available on the Internet for a nominal fee and we are hearing that it will cost millions more to do that.

What am I missing here? The old joke about a committee designing a racehorse – what do you get? A camel! I hope this racehorse doesn’t grow many more humps.

Susan Willingham

Propane Resources

Kansas City, MO

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