Case Studies

High Performance Learning Case Studies

CASE STUDY: Innovative Training Solutions for an Innovative Company

Vistaprint, a billion-dollar, publicly held, e-commerce company providing marketing products and online business services to  business owners around the world, started less than 20 years ago in the spare bedroom of Robert Keane’s Paris apartment. Since then, through innovative manufacturing, technology and marketing solutions their growth has been rapid. In 2011 alone, the Lexington, Massachusetts location added 125 new employees. With this growth, Vistaprint was forced to adjust to the challenges that all rapidly expanding companies face and the company needed to find a way to help their employees quickly become strong contributors and effective leaders. To meet this growing demand, the Learning and Development team realized it needed to add additional training programs to support all levels of the Vistaprint team.

The Vistaprint Learning and Development team began evaluating potential solutions and decided to partner with High Performance Learning Inc. (HPL) to find and utilize new resources. To meet their goals, in 2011, HPL assisted Vistaprint in obtaining a six-figure Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund Grant. The approved training grant provided Vistaprint with three new employee training programs that would be funded over a 24-month period. “The Workforce Training Grant provided the resources Vistaprint needed to meet a large portion of the demand for more employee development opportunities,” explained Kristina Brunelle, Vistaprint Learning and Development Director.

By the time the grant is completed in 2013, 150 Vistaprint employees will attend one of ten, two-day Exceptional Project Manager workshops. 150 employees will attend one of the one-day Business Presentation Skills workshops, and 160 employees will attend one of ten, three-day High Performance Leadership training programs. Through the prioritization of the various employee development needs, Vistaprint concluded the improved project management and leadership skills would greatly aid each participant in contributing to company goals, keeping ahead of the changes, and managing themselves and teammates more effectively. Additionally, frequent reorganization within the company required that all team members have the skills to present and implement team strategies.

The initial feedback from Vistaprint and their employees about these workshops has been extremely positive. Ashley Busa, a specialist on the content strategy team in the marketing business unit said she found the High Performance Leadership workshop very useful in helping her adjust to her new responsibilities: “The course material has been particularly helpful in the area of communication,” said Busa. “I’ve noticed myself trying to use more situational leadership skills and adapting my communications based on the leadership style that’s most appropriate for the situation.”

Vistaprint employees have also said it was very useful to have the opportunity to strengthen project management and presentation skills via HPL’s workshops. Marketing Partnerships Senior Associate Meaghan Donlon said the two-day Exceptional Project Manager workshop was very helpful: “I think the biggest lesson I took away from the course was the importance of a planning phase at the beginning. I would say these new skills are beneficial to my team too because it helps everyone get on the same page early on.”

In addition to the benefits of the course, Vistaprint employees said they were pleased by the overall delivery and learning environment of each workshop. “I found the delivery to be the most enjoyable part, as it was interactive with both small and large group discussion and role playing,” said Busa. “It was obvious that our HPL instructor was very familiar with our business and processes at Vistaprint,” Donlon added, “the way he assisted us in tying back all of the material to our actual projects made it very relatable and easy to see how the training and new skills are actionable in our everyday projects.”

Because of the unique challenges facing Vistaprint as a rapidly growing company, HPL’s ability to customize the programs to meet Vistaprint’s specific needs was particularly important in helping employees incorporate what they learned in training into the company culture. “HPL absolutely satisfied our need to provide us with quality training programs,” said Brunelle. “We are pleased to have HPL and their great instructors as part of our team.”

Based on the response from Vistaprint employees, as well as the improvements seen in the work environment, all three HPL programs have been well received. Both Vistaprint and HPL are looking forward to continuing this partnership in the future in order to support the continuing growth and new challenges at Vistaprint.

About Vistaprint: Vistaprint N.V. (NASDAQ: VPRT) empowers more than 14 million micro businesses and consumers annually with affordable, professional options to make an impression. With a unique business model supported by proprietary technologies, high-volume production facilities, and direct marketing expertise, Vistaprint offers a wide variety of products and services that micro businesses can use to expand their business. A global company, Vistaprint employs over 3,700 people, operates more than 25 localized websites globally and ships to more than 130 countries around the world. Vistaprint’s broad range of products and services are easy to access online, 24 hours a day at


CASE STUDY: Company-wide Continuous Improvement process
High Performance Learning was asked to help a manufacturing company with five separate manufacturing plants, employing over 3,500 people, to implement a company-wide Continuous Improvement process. Our initial assessment revealed that:

  • The company needed to adapt more quickly to changing markets and customer requirements
  • Employees were concerned that they were working harder and faster – but not smarter
  • There were often unclear, or conflicting, customer requirements for major projects
  • There were very few process, outcome, and/or performance measures
  • There was little understanding of the impact of work across other departments/functional areas
  • Problems were rarely solved “once and for all”
  • Overall quality was not what they would like it to be
  • The employees believed that high productivity goals were promoted over quality

The company’s existing problem solving process had been characterized by employees as:

  • “Fire-fighting” with no follow through;
  • short-term fixes that don’t address root causes;
  • the same people always working on the same problems; and
  • a lack of senior management commitment to solving problems once and for all.

After meeting with the Senior Management Team during a two-day Senior Management Work Conference, HPL helped the company to create and launch a new Continuous Improvement process, which initially started with three Quality Action Teams (QAT) to work on the follow critical business issues:

There was an operating budget (estimate) of roughly $10 million of scrap at the start of the year. Even though this number represented less than 3% of the company’s projected operating budget, it was having a very negative effect on the company’s overall profitability.

The main contributors to this poor performance were inadequate specification system, inadequately defined processes and methods, conflicting economic order quantities, and other specific contributors. The team’s goal was to create clear and concise product specifications, establish “Best Practices” in processes and methods, establish optimized economic order quantities, and take advantage of other specific contributors.

By using the FADE Problem Solving process, the Scrap QAT was able to achieve measurable and effective cost savings of more than $1 million that year.

Given the success of the Scrap QAT, another QAT was established by the Senior Management Team to gather consumer, customer and employee feedback to identify root causes of remakes. The team is now focusing on solving key issues that will provide good results for consumers, customers and company employees with a savings goal of $1 million or more in the following year. The FADE Problem Solving process is currently being utilized by this team as well.

A third QAT was established to look for additional ways to reduce “the cost of quality.” Currently, the team is using the FADE process to:

  • Correct the most influential errors, to produce truer accounting which will in turn support better decision making and achievement of excellent results for customers, employees and company owners
  • Take advantage of true “quick fixes”
  • Suggest and implement incremental improvements that will ensure sustained improvement to profits in 2002 and beyond.
  • The root causes the team has initially identified related to the work processes of developing programs, developing pricing and promotions, entering data into the system, developing customers, shipping product and administering returns and allowances.

One of the key goals was to save one million dollars by the end of the year. This goal was exceeded by 20% , and the Company’s profit from operations (PFO) were 45% ahead of forecast. Return of invested capital was budgeted to be less than 40% higher than the previous year and actually came in at 50% over the previous year.

In addition, two other key outcomes of the Continuous Improvement process included improvements in senior management practices. These included the production of the company’s first cross-functional, integrated strategic plan, and the rigorous reinforcement, throughout the year, of senior managers individually practicing in their own work what was being presented to other employees in Continuous Improvement Training.

More than 45 “in-house” facilitators have been trained by HPL to keep the Continuous Improvement process on-going!

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