When you have gone through your make vs. buy decision process and chosen to search for an external training provider, there are certain factors you should consider. This is not an all inclusive list, but it will save you some headaches along the way, when you are looking for the best candidate to meet your training needs.
If you are looking for expertise, your investment will be higher, but so should the ROI. Look for a strategic partner who wants to understand your business situation and the results you want to achieve. If you are just looking for extra bandwidth, you will most likely have a lower cost, but you will be the one driving the process and bringing in most of the ideas.
Training providers have solutions on the continuum from off-the-shelf products to totally customized projects. In between, it is also possible to start with a standard package that is tailored to your organization’s needs. A training solution can be standardized to drive lower costs; or due to a highly successful and strictly protected formula. Conversely, customized doesn’t always equal the highest quality, but it does mean that it will be made to your specifications. What you need to determine is how unique are the training needs of your target audience.
When you look for a training partner, you want them to be able to grow with you. If you set up offices in other states, or other countries, will they be able to scale their operations to follow you there? Does their business model allow certifying internal trainers within your own organization; if that’s the way you want to do it? Do they have the language capabilities and the cultural competence to serve you in your international locations? Don’t overlook your local vendors – you want to be a good citizen in your community.
Does your training provider have experience with your type of organization? Do they know the industry terminology? Have they dealt with your size of company before? The implementation of projects in small businesses is different than in large corporations.
My most value-add solution providers were selected through a rigorous RFP process. You may not need to do it for every little workshop, but when you look for long term strategic relationships, set clear criteria and don’t jump into contracts before you have done your due diligence. The on-going business results will be worth it.
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