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How To Choose The Right Training Provider

In many ways trying to identify the perfect training partner can be an arduous task akin to looking for a significant other that has your best interest at heart.

You can try the “mail-order” approach – beginning your research on Google and seeing what happens when you use search terms like Supplier, Vendor, or Provider. You’ll get plenty to review. When I tried it I got more than seven million results.

You can ask friends and colleagues to “fix you up” –that’s essentially what you do when you ask them for a referral based on their own experience. I think of it as the blind dating approach to vendor selection.

While you may get lucky using either the mail-order or bind dating approach to finding a vendor, there is another approach that is more effective and more efficient. Some may think of it as the “old fashion” approach fashioned because it follows some of the formal ‘rules” of courtship – taking the time to get to know each other – complete with meeting “the parents.”

At its core, a successful vendor/supplier/partner relationship is successful for the same reason a marriage is successful: Trust. In the workplace being a “trust agent” means you are a person or team who is open to sharing risk, capable of supporting your partner’s needs, or are openly willing to direct your partner to someone else without prejudice when you do not believe you are the best to address their issue.

A Trust Agent is always focused on their partner’s success, is available to discuss openly and share ideas, and looks to build a long-term relationship. Like a marriage partner, a trust agent is willing to stand with you in tough times.

Finding the right partner can be a daunting task. To simply your search, here are some ideas that you can expand on to your heart’s content:

1. Know what you want!

Here’s a checklist of questions you want to have the answers to:

  • Off the shelf or customized or brand new?
  • Is an analysis needed or was one done? If no, how do you know what is required?
  • Can you communicate your needs and expectations clearly –?
    • What is the delivery mode?
    • Who is the audience?
    • How much time is needed for this training?
    • Is an assessment or profile required?
    • Are global resources needed?
    • Multiple Locations
    • Required languages
    • Will the program have pre-work?
    • What kind of Follow-up is needed?
    • How will you track enrollment?
    • Who is responsible for travel arrangements Note Dave as an on and on here, I’m not sure we should have an on and on…either we are giving a comprehensive list or we aren’t.)
    • Do you have a budget that you are willing to share?
    • How will you measure success?
    • What paperwork must be established immediately – non-disclosure, RFI, RFP – call your attorney.
    • Who owns the materials?
    • Do you want a Train-the-Trainer?
    • Who are your SMEs?
    • How open do you want to be?
    • What guarantees do you want?
    • What is the contracting process?
    • What is your timeline?
    • What are your project management requirements? (Dave has Etc.? Etc.? again, either we’re telling the whole story or we aren’t.

2. Find out if they’ve done it before!

Trust Agents provide testimonials that are true and verifiable. Contact their references and confirm the success as the Trust Agent presented it. Get an understanding of what deliverables were provided. Ask lots of questions:

  • Ask about outcomes – short and long term.
  • Ask about processes
  • Ask about the Trust Agent’s flexibility.
  • Ask about personnel.
  • Ask about difficulties and problems (every project has them. It’s how they are handled that is most important)
  • Ask about your current relationship.
  • Ask if they are looking forward to working with the Trust Agent in the future.
  • Ask about costs and payment expectations.
  • Review samples and try out their eLearning, LMS, and other required technology.
  • Get others involved in this do-diligence stage!

3. Get inside their organization!

First stop: visit their website, conduct a web search, and verify their financial viability. Get a sense that your budget is sufficient to engage them – this may take some effort and require the exchange of details.

4. If after completing the first three steps, you believe you want to engage this new partner, then you’ll need to:

  • Establish a Mutual Non-Disclosure Agreement (If they suggest it first, it’s great!)
  • Meet the owners, principals, leadership, and their team
  • Visit their offices
  • Understand their structure – do they have employees or use W2 0r 1099 relationships
  • Ensure that they have, or can source, the skill sets you need where and when you need them
  • Identify a primary contact
  • Read the available biographies and resumes.
  • Make sure you get to pick and choose who works with you, and that you can interview them
  • Find out the procedure for requesting and changing staff
  • Determine how success is measured
  • Always get and contact references

Need some help?

The TrainSmart can lend you a hand!  We have the knowledge, processes, assessments/profiles, and the experience needed to ensure success!  And, we are Trust Agents!

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Dave Finley

Dave is a highly competent communicator, consultant, trainer, and leader with extensive skills and knowledge related to improving people and organizational performance. He focuses on establishing and sustaining effective and enduring client and team relationships.