Cornerstone Learning Review

Automation and strong reporting improve efficiency and shorten compliance-training completion time


What is our primary use case?

In my current organization, we use Cornerstone strictly as a learning management system. We use it to deploy all of our compliance training, which includes IT compliance, corporate compliance, and human resource compliance. We have a lot because, in our industry, there are a lot of compliance requirements.

We also use it for on-demand training. We have a couple of integrations with LinkedIn Learning and Skillsoft, just for skills training an on-demand, professional skills training.

How has it helped my organization?

Cornerstone has been around for a long time and they've put a lot of work into the compliance piece, specifically. They've really perfected how to deploy assignments, as well as how to redeploy assignments. This is important because we have a lot of compliance that has to happen annually and Cornerstone is the only system that I have found that can really do this successfully. It allows me to program a dynamic assignment that is ongoing and automatically reassigns compliance training on a schedule.

This makes my life infinitely easier and I would say automates 80% of what typically would be manual for other administrators. It really frees up my time to focus on development and strategy, as opposed to audit and manual tracking.

We deploy our training in quarterly bundles because there are about 30 of them per year and you don't want to assign all of them at one time. The system is capable of splitting it up and then reassigning it on a reoccurring basis until I instruct it to stop.

Combining everything together, our on-time completions have gone from the mid-sixty percentile to over 99% on-time completion.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are automation, analytics, and strong reporting.

The email digest that informs people about upcoming training is very helpful. If somebody has five training sessions scheduled then they receive a single email notification, rather than five separate ones.

There are reporting dashboards for managers that allow them to clearly and easily see where their team stands with training.

They have a Client Community Success Center, where clients can share ideas and interact with each other. People receive help for problems they are facing after asking for help or opinions or ideas on what to do.

What needs improvement?

My understanding is that they are working on the interface, which is something that is needed. The user interface and user experience could certainly use an update. The fact that it is a work-in-progress is obvious because it is strange to see one modern-looking page that is immediately followed by one that looks like it is from 1999.

The automated ticketing system for technical support often has a response time that is quite long, which is something that should be improved.

Something that I would like to see in the future is customizability for the Learner Homepage. This is an interactive web page for your training, and my company has chosen not to create a separate welcome page for the system. If it were customizable then I could, for example, have an inbox widget there. As it is now, the actions that a user can perform and not in a centralized location.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Cornerstone Learning for eight years, on and off, in different environments.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Cornerstone Learning is absolutely scalable. It can do as much or as little as you want it to, so it's really just about determining what each client wants out of the solution.

We have between 6,000 and 7,000 users and that includes every employee, consultant, contingent worker, and contractor that we have. The roles range from our C-Level executive suite to our most entry-level workers. I don't expect that our usage will grow considerably in the near future.

How are customer service and technical support?

Out of all of the software providers that I've worked with, in the talent management space, and there have been many, Cornerstone is the most client-responsive. They're really driven by our feedback and our suggestions. They are receptive, responsive, and very dedicated to the long-term success of their clients.

With respect to technical support, they are very good. However, there is one thing that can be improved and it is related to the automatic ticketing system. If you open a ticket and just wait for a response then it will take quite a long time.

What I have found, and I usually suggest it to other clients, is to first open a ticket and then call into the global support product line right afterward. By doing so, it really expedites everything. I don't think that this is very clear to clients and I think that it should be made more so. If instead, you don't follow up on your own, then it will be a long turnaround time. If you do follow up then it will be resolved in a matter of hours, or perhaps one day at the most. That is unless it is something extremely complicated that has to be escalated to the engineering team.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have used several similar solutions in the past. Some of these include Saba LMS, Adobe Captivate LMS, and SAP SuccessFactors.

Compared to these other solutions, Cornerstone is very simple to use. They have really optimized the ability to "click and drag" things over. Even when it comes to uploading content or creating your own content within it, this solution makes it easy. There are a lot of diagnostic tools and solutions. I also think that the support is unbeatable.

How was the initial setup?

I have seen this solution set up many times and I'm not going to say that it isn't complex. In fact, it's very complex. However, I think that Cornerstone has probably made it as simple as it can possibly be.

Cornerstone does a really good job of educating their clients, impressing upon them that they need to be dedicated to this system because they're always improving and always updating. I am a very hands-on administrator and I actually serve as a volunteer client community expert who advises other Cornerstone clients on how to use the system.

It gets complex because some clients expect an out-of-the-box, ready-to-go solution and that's not the case. It can't be the case with software like this because it's made to be customized to your business. Sometimes, clients aren't prepared for that or aren't quite aware of that. As somebody who has visited many different companies to help them leverage the system, I feel it's simply that the clients don't truly understand that they need a dedicated person on the ground. They need a dedicated resource who is really going to learn about the system and know how to take care of it, long-term. Often, clients feel that it will just take care of itself.

What about the implementation team?

I maintain this solution on my own.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I was not involved in the financial negotiation for our contract with this company, but in the past, I have seen the fees run between $10 USD and $11 USD per user. You can add different modules as well, which increases the cost. For example, you can add a performance module, and these extras come at different costs. You can also bundle items together, which gives you a pretty significant discount.

Once you pay for that, it is all you need unless you want to add content and subscription services. You can do that through Cornerstone and they have a wonderful subscription service if you want additional pieces of training. There are costs for this and they vary depending on the number of users and how many different products you're purchasing.

What other advice do I have?

In the past two years, they have totally revamped the reporting module. It is called Reporting 2.0 and it is absolutely incredible. The administrator can create custom reports that are as granular or as wide as you want. You can share it with specific users or with entire groups of users. You can have the system email reports, which is very helpful because as an administrator, I am asked for reports constantly. Even when reports have been generated, stored, and are available for people to read, they still email me requests for updated versions. Reporting 2.0 has allowed me to program the system to email it to them on whatever cadence I choose. So, for example, every Wednesday at noon, a specific group of people will have a certain report emailed to them. There are lots of things that can be done with Reporting 2.0, where is it like a miniature version of Power BI. The difference is that your data is already in the system and it doesn't have to be imported.

It is helpful to understand the automation that Cornerstone provides because I often coach people on how to use it. They do things manually without realizing the potential for saving themselves work.

My advice for anybody who is implementing this solution is to designate a person or team, and then focus and invest in their development and education with the system. Cornerstone offers lots of free training but they also offer paid training. If the company does not have experience with it then I would suggest designating a team, flying them to Santa Monica or Salt Lake City, and visiting one of the offices in person to attend the training seminars. This needs to be followed up with time to practice those skills. Then, after this, take more training that's on their client success portal. I say this because administrators have to have all of the tools and then need time to practice the skills.

It can be very complicated and it doesn't matter what module you purchase. Whether it is learning, performance, or a full-stack solution for all of your talent management, this is really important information. It is sensitive data and a lot of the time it is audited. This demands that you really give yourself enough time to plan that properly.

The biggest lesson that I have learned with this solution is to always keep abreast of what's happening. Do not ignore their quarterly release notes and do attend the quarterly release webinars. All of the information that any administrator or system owner needs to know is provided. The important part is that you have to be receptive to taking it in, analyzing it, testing things, and being involved. Do not make the assumption that it's an out-of-the-box solution that will always work the same way because they are always improving.

As far as I'm concerned, Cornerstone is the absolute top learning management system on the market. They are client-centric and client-focused. They really take the time to educate people and involve them. The user interface is great and the support team is amazing. Their future is very bright and my only real complaint is about the response time for tickets that are generated, and how they are addressed.

I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Hybrid Cloud
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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