Friday, November 22, 2013

Advanced snow management has arrived

'We ask that you thoughtfully consider the ASM program for your team.'

By Phill Sexton
It's hard for me to believe almost two years have passed since I accepted the position of director of education & outreach for SIMA. I have always been passionate about the snow industry and saw this as an opportunity to help create solutions for our industry’s biggest challenges including a lack of professional standards, the rising cost of insurance, and increased pressures in pricing.

Nearly 18 months ago, I began to tackle an operations-based training program for the industry. SIMA was developing a certification program for operators and had run into some challenges. After an initial review, the roadblock was identified: There is a great deal of diversity in the size and structure of snow businesses. We wanted to build a program that would work for any size organization and discovered the certification model was not the best fit. 

After several months of assessment and revisions, we determined it would be better to focus on a series of individual training courses tied to certificates. We knew that the program needed to be customizable so companies could choose to have employees complete the entire series or just the training that focused on their core job duties. The certificate program offered that flexibility, while allowing SIMA to focus on high-quality training as the key priority. Additionally, it was less complicated and less costly for people to use. With that, the new Advanced Snow Management program was born. 

In order for this vision to become a reality, we needed help to design the courses. After a formal search for experts in instructional design, we formalized a relationship with Julie Stelter of The Walden Group. Julie has been a valuable partner, serving as our expert in designing the overall structure for each course, focusing on major outcomes and tailoring it for adult learning styles. The curriculum has been developed following ANSI (American National Standards Institute) guidelines and requirements for training accreditation. Once the training program is launched and several companies begin using the program, SIMA will work to finalize the ANSI certification process.

For the past 10 months, Julie and I have worked with a special group of volunteers we established, the Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG), to help qualify the curriculum as required by ANSI. We built this team to ensure that any content was developed by a diverse group of industry professionals, consumers and insurance providers to align with best practices in developing training standards for the snow industry. I would like to thank all of the SAG members for their commitment, particularly Teri Meredith, Paul Vanderzon, Ian Ashby and Shay Leon. The final product is far better because of their generosity of time, knowledge and experience.

We ask that you thoughtfully consider the ASM program for your team. It will help differentiate your company from your competitors, align your operations with established best practices and standards, and help prove to insurance providers that your company is invested in safety and managing risk at the advanced level. 

About ASM: The Advanced Snow Management program consists of four online certificate courses. Individual operators who take and pass courses in their specialty areas will receive official certificates. Those who successfully complete all four courses will earn SIMA’s Advanced Snow Manager (ASM) designation. The Core Principles certificate course is available now, and serves as the prerequisite for all other ASM courses. Subsequent courses will follow in the coming months. Visit here for more information.

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