Prudential Bank and Trust Co. of Atlanta says it has improved productivity and reduced computer training costs for employees by 28% by outsourcing its training to Intellitrain Inc., also based in Atlanta.

Prior to using the training vendor, Prudential, a subsidiary of Prudential Insurance Co., used a combination of in-house training and off- site classes.

The bank first hired Intellitrain a year and a half ago to supplement its own four-person training staff. Six months ago, the bank handed full responsibility for training to the company.

As computer skills become an integral part of every banking practice, training has taken on a more important role at many financial institutions.

The on-site training "enabled us to eliminate internal training staff without compromising our need for customized computer training," said Scott Sherwin, manager of human resources for Prudential Bank, which spends about $150,000 per year on the program.

Intellitrain tailors its courses to its clients' needs, so that employees attend relatively short, three-hour sessions that teach specifically what they need to learn, said Sherry Ramshaw, the company's president.

Separate classes are held for customer service representatives, collections or accounting staff, information systems personnel, and top management, so that the classes remain short and relevant.

Employees are trained to use software for spreadsheets, word processing, flow charts, electronic mail, and meeting scheduling. Intellitrain specializes in teaching Microsoft Office applications.

In Prudential's case, employees are taught those applications running on Apple Macintosh personal computers.

The bank expects 350 of its 700 employees to complete computer training by the end of the year. By farming out the training, Prudential has reduced its cost to $67 per employee from $95 per employee.

The training program is used for a range of employees, and is a way to ease personnel into new jobs or promotions, Ms. Ramshaw said.

"Prior to Intellitrain, most of our training was coordinated internally," said Mr. Sherwin. "We also spent a significant amount of time and money sending our associates off site for computer training classes."

Intellitrain has dedicated one instructor to the account, although others may help out on a given subject.

The company produces management reports after the class, to show the bank which department should be charged for the class, who attended it, how well they did on tests, and how satisfied they claimed to be about the content of the class.

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