12 Questions L&D Leaders Should Ask Before Choosing A Training Vendor

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“If you believe that training is expensive, it is because you do not know what ignorance costs.” Training is no longer perceived as an optional spend. In the last couple of decades, there has been an increasing realization of the importance of training and development.

Research has found that the companies which invested in employee training realized higher profit margins and also generated 218% higher income per employee compared to companies who neglected formal training programs. However, training which does not deliver any value is as hazardous as no training. 40% of employees who received poor training left their jobs within the first year as per a recent survey.  Another similar study found that poor quality of training content & lack of formal training resources can translate to a loss of $13,500 per employee every year.

Selecting a training vendor can be confusing and stressful. It’s a big decision and will have an impact on hard metrics like productivity for a long time down the line, not to mention justifying the decision to management.

So, what should you look for while choosing a training partner for your organization? Recently, we reached out to dozens of L&D leaders from our Connect L&D community with this question.

Following are the 12 of the key factors that emerged from the survey:

#1 Does The Vendor Have a Good Track Record & Are They Successful?

The past record of your training provider can reveal their compatibility with your organization’s goals. Before you entrust your employee training to them, perform a quick background check on the size of their client list & profiles of top clients. More than any other factor, the training provider’s past clients are a strong indicator of the quality of programs, delivery, support and expertise offered by the vendor.

It is also important to ensure that the training vendor you are evaluating has deep experience in the functional domain or industry. For instance, if you are looking for a training partner in niche high-end technologies, a vendor specializing in soft skills programs may not be the best choice even if they have a technology portfolio.

Sales volumes & revenue can further reinforce these initial impressions. A successful vendor with established industry connections will have a steady, recurring revenue stream from existing clients and are likely to be stable partners in the long run.

Aside from this, some other things you need to consider are:

  • Feedback from the training vendor’s past trainees & clients
  • Feedback from other L&D leaders who have worked with the vendor before

#2 Does The Training Vendor Have Accreditation & OEM Authorized Training Partnerships (ATPs) ?

These are extremely important to ensure that you are receiving quality training. The more number of partnerships they have, the more the training company will be able to give you authorized training material. Certifications and Accreditation are a sign of credibility. Basically, they are the ‘industry’s stamp of approval’. In order to get these, training organizations must undergo a rigorous process where their course content, trainers, trainer qualification, and the organization as a whole is reviewed. Thus, a training company with accreditation is a company that you can entrust your employee training needs.

For instance, let’s consider the example of SpringPeople itself. Partnership with over 14 global industry leading bodies such as Red Hat, Scrum Alliance, CompTIA, ISTQB, Android ATC and many others, has assisted SpringPeople in delivering authorized training content from the technology companies behind the products.

#3 How Good Are The Trainers?

This pertains to the number of in-house trainers the training vendor has, their level of experience and their expertise. You should also look for specialization in trainers. Given the fact that many trainers today offer training services in multiple domains, look for a vendor with a pool of experienced specialist SMEs.

Also, a large pool of trainers is necessary to ensure service continuity. For instance, if one trainer cancels, the vendor needs to have machinery to provide another with the same level of experience for the same budget. Look for number of trainers in pool who have experience in niche, high-end techs. These premium trainers are hard to find and are often committed to a single vendor.

#4 Is There A System to Their Training Process  & Is It Flexible?

Is the organization process driven or people driven? Are they disorganized small time players where there is no system to training process? Are they flexible enough?

Flexibility in terms of provision of convenient formalities such as pay after training delivery, PO-based services that ensures your peace of mind and flexibility with regard to training dates,  trainers, and training programs that can be modified as per your requirements, should be something that you should strive to find in your training vendor.

Professional enterprise training providers who are longtime players generally have a well-oiled process and a framework in place to ensure successful delivery & fulfillment.

For example, to ensure a seamless training delivery, SpringPeople follows a 3- step training process model. Much like e-commerce where you click and purchase, SpringPeople follows a hassle free the training delivery mode. SpringPeople has a dedicated enterprise business team for quick support, full coordination with client to ensure seamless delivery, and complete documentation at every stage.

  1. After Enterprises reach out to SpringPeople with their IT training requirements, scoping is performed with client’s L&D/Training manager and technical folks to understand details of requirement (team size, course/skill, delivery mode – classroom/live-online/self-paced, timelines etc)
  2. Appropriate training program & content is chosen from portfolio of 500+ courses, including OEM authorized content from global partners.
  3. Trainer fitment is done – considerations are client requirement, trainer skills, certifications, experience and delivery score and training is delivered

This effort into building a process around training delivery means many operational problems are taken care of swiftly, ensuring peace of mind for the client.

So be sure to understand the training provider’s processes & flexibility before committing to any single vendor.

#5 Do They Have A Learning Management System?

An LMS can make your life easier. Look for a training provider who offers an LMS with the following features: detailed analytics,enterprise reporting, customizable workflows, and fully automated end-to-end training orchestration.

An LMS is important as it will help you to track the  learning trajectory of your employees. It will help you to know what courses your employees have attended and where they stand in their learning journey. Unless you know the learning funnel of your employees, it is impossible to know whether your organization is going forward.

Case Study: Thomson Reuters

Let me illustrate the importance of an LMS with a case study. Most of you must be familiar with  Thomson Reuters. With over 60,000 employees and operations in 100 countries, Thomson Reuters is a multinational media firm. Previously, the training at Reuters’ IP & Science division was handled by Thomson Reuters IP & Science Operations Development Manager, and her small team of trainers. They faced many challenges pertaining to speed, logistics, flexibility and user interface.

Then, in 2014 they decided to adopt Docebo LMS. After this move, Thomson Reuters IP & Science Operations Development Manager expressed that unlike before ,they were able to quickly convey key information to everyone at the same time and minimize downtime. They also reported that they were  able to verify their team’s comprehension of the information faster through quizzes and knowledge checks after adopting an LMS. The LMS also helped to customize the content in local languages which was a benefit to a global company like Reuters.

 

#6  Do They Have Any Proprietary IP?

A training vendor which has IP of their own can mean many things. For one, it shows that they are ready to invest in their product and R&D which is a strong signal that they are committed to learning & development. It’s also an indicator of the strength of their technology innovativeness, which translates into a better product for clients.

For instance, SpringPeople is currently working on the integration of machine learning/AI elements into its inhouse enterprise training platform called “LnD Cloud”, powering features such as realtime reporting, a custom-built L&D dashboard and delivery process automation, an industry first. These features make it significantly easier for client teams to monitor, track & report on training effectiveness.

#7 Do They Have a Dedicated Enterprise Business Team?

The team size should be taken into consideration when you are looking to train a large team.

Does the training vendor have enough employees to ensure business continuity? Is there a dedicated team to solution your requirements quickly?

#8 Do They Offer Different Delivery Modes?

Today, a hybrid delivery model with e-learning complementing ILT programs is preferred by most organizations.

Each employee can have different preferred modes of learning. In order for the training to be effective, it needs to adopt a multi-model and multi-channel approach.

Classroom sessions, online learning modules, podcasts, live webinars are some of the different approaches that can be combined to impart an effective learning experience.

But not all vendors have the capability to support multi-modal delivery. Only established, serious training providers regularly invest into upgrading their delivery to cater to diverse needs.

#9 How Is The Founder Profile?

The background of the founders & promoters and their profiles can give you vital clues as to how successful the partnership will be. Do they have experience or formal qualifications in the training industry?

Look for training companies who are led by founders who have had experience in delivering training themselves and also has a first hand knowledge in the domain they are offering training. Founders with sound educational credentials and a track history of working in the the domain they are offering training would also be a great fit as your enterprise training partner.

#10 Are They An Established Brand?

Serious training vendors will invest into marketing & brand building. Look for vendors with good websites, regular marketing messages, media coverage, partnerships, award & recognition, membership to industry forums like NASSCOM and platforms for clients like Connect L&D.

Also, look also for vendors who focus on the quality of the experience for clients/delivery process. Such vendors will come highly recommended through word of mouth and from your network

#11 Do They Have A Good Training Infrastructure?

A good training space can make a huge difference. It can ensure a hassle-free training experience to all. State-of-the-art, well-ventilated training rooms with a complete range of training facilities, Cloudlabs integration to ensure production-ready resources for clients, and equipped with the latest technology and equipment can ensure a conducive learning environment.

Some of the other things you should look for is how good is the training vendor’s Delivery/Operations infrastructure. This can be gauged by looking at whether they have an LMS, their turnaround times for training delivery, their  grievance redressal systems (complaints addressed immediately), the dedication of their business continuity team and cloud team (to ensure training sessions are delivered seamlessly with no interruption)

#12 Is the Pricing Competitive?

Ideally, price should be the last priority for you. If all the above criteria has been met, compare the prices between vendors – what you need to remember is that training does not necessarily have to burn your pocket to be effective. Having said that, it is also important to be cautious about partnering with vendors who offer bargain-basement pricing as they control costs with severe compromises on quality of content & trainers.

If your answers to the questions above (at least 10) are ‘yes’, then you can rest assured that your employee training is in good hands.

Feel free to comment whether you agree/disagree with any of these points. Also, comment if you think there are other factors that you need to take into consideration.

 

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About Vibhuthi Viswanathan

Vibhuthi is a an avid follower of the latest trends in the world of Technology. Her writing aims to engage and educate the readers on all things Tech. When she is not twirling with words and pauses at SpringPeople, she binge reads popular literature.

Posts by Vibhuthi Viswanathan

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