Featured Case Study

Implementing a New Finance Curriculum to Create a World-Class Financial Organisation

A U.S. aerospace and defence provider, with 80,000 employees worldwide

Business need
The client’s finance organisation of 4,000 employees serves a myriad of accounting, reporting, research and analysis functions, scattered throughout the company’s business sites located in the U.S., Canada and Europe. In June 2003, the client’s chief financial officer sought to create a “world class financial organisation” in line with the client’s strategic vision, equipped to support the company’s ambitious growth goals while handling the dramatic increase in regulatory oversight required by Sarbanes-Oxley compliance. To achieve this goal, the client’s finance leaders identified several organisational and development priorities:


  • Increase the knowledge and skills of the finance work force.
  • Increase employees’ use of key performance development tools:
  • Transform the existing work culture to one with a strong and obvious focus on finance learning and development.

How we helped
During the client’s annual finance forum in December 2003, finance leaders from across the client’s organisation launched a “Finance Learning Initiative,” an effort that would serve as the foundation for the organisation’s journey toward the establishment of a true learning culture. This launch included an abbreviated curriculum with access through an online professional development centre to support the organisation’s recently established priorities.

In less than six months, RPS designed, developed and deployed a comprehensive curriculum, tool sets, communication channels and processes to support the successful maintenance and growth of the initiative, including the establishment of the Finance Learning Leadership Team. This team, consisting of chief financial offerings and other finance leaders from each of the client’s business units and corporate offices, was put in place by February 2004 to govern on-going course development, deployment and alignment with HR talent management in each business.

By working closely with the client’s Finance Learning Leadership Team, RPS:


  • Architected a competency-based curriculum designed to provide core financial knowledge and more in-depth knowledge along discipline tracks.
  • Formed the Finance Curricula Lead Council responsible for analyzing the learning needs within the specific disciplines of Finance, and coordinating with curriculum developers to ensure the training meets the defined needs.
  • Enabled curriculum accessibility through a web portal linked to the client’s learning management system through employees’ development plans.

With the support of the Finance Learning Leadership team, RPS collaborated with the council throughout the enterprise to accelerate progress of the initiative by:


  • Developing 47 new instructor-led and elearning courses
  • Delivering finance courses at 33 locations in 15 states across the U.S. and in three international locations – the U.K., Canada, and Germany
  • Putting the infrastructure in place to support curriculum deployment, including awareness, education, communication, process, scheduling, delivery, logistics, faculty, measurement, evaluation, and tools
  • Annually supporting learning efforts with road shows to all businesses incorporating all employee levels and using communication vehicles including a newsletter, brochures, mass mail and web portal.
  • Improving the effectiveness in RPS and finance subject matter expert partnering on course development by providing BLITZ development guides. These guides are detailed development outlines tailored for each course to explain course goals and objectives. These outlines allowed subject matter experts to focus solely on course development, accelerating development cycle time substantially.

Business results
In the last seven months of 2004, the percentage of finance employees using web-based development plans increased from 45% to 95%, reflecting the learning initiative’s overwhelming influence on employees’ professional development and managers’ support for learning within their area of supervision.

From January to May of 2004, finance training averaged 4.2 hours per employee. By the end of 2004, that average increased ten-fold to 42.2 hours per employee, and by the end of 2005, averaged 45.6 hours per employee.


  • From 2004 to 2005:
  • The average number of students per class increased from 18 to 22
  • The cost per student decreased by five percent
  • The number of courses delivered increased +125%, thus increasing the average number of courses delivered per month from 14 to 32
  • The number of employees trained rose from 3,083 to 8,338, an increase of 170%
  • The finance web portal has evolved through five upgrades and is now a communication portal that averages 803 visitors per month, experiencing a peak of 1,508 visitors in January 2005.

In 2006, RPS and the client sought and received certification from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) for the finance curriculum, which enables the client’s employees who are certified public accountants to earn continuing professional education credit by taking the client’s finance Courses.

From March 2005 to March 2006, the number of unique users on the web portal climbed another 34%, indicating increasing momentum and support. As of the second quarter of 2006, the finance web portal averaged 3,658 sessions per month, up from a monthly average of 2,853 in 2005.