Training Industry Quarterly - Spring 2008 - (Page 11)

BEFORE YOU BUY | DOUG HARWARD TO SECURE THE BEST TRAINING SUPPLIER, HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT TO LOOK FOR? BEING INFORMED HELPS BUYERS T he training industry has been considered by many to be operating under the doctrine of caveat emptor, which as you no doubt know is Latin for “buyer beware.” (Or as we say in the South, “y’all watch out now.”) The concept is simple, and the advice is good: Go into any deal with your eyes wide open. That may seem like a “glass half empty” approach, but happily it doesn’t have to be that way. In today’s training market, buyers are fortunate to have a choice. In this “Before You Buy…” column over the course of future issues, I’ll provide you with the tools and information needed to help make sure you don’t have to beware of the big bad training supplier. The good news is there are lots of options when it comes to selecting training suppliers. Contrary to popular belief, there really isn’t just one company out there that truly meets your needs. But there may be one company that “best” meets your needs, and I’m happy to help you with how to choose that perfect supplier. How important is that mission? In my estimate, based on the daily conversations I have with learning leaders and expert suppliers, the number of companies that say they are satisfied with supplier performance is less than 75 percent. That means an amazing — and unacceptable — 25 percent are unhappy with the suppliers they’re working with. Let’s put it another way: Imagine spending a sizable chunk of your income on something you’re not satisfied with. (Let’s call that the Income Tax Ratio.) The point is, that number should be much higher. Assessing Your Suppliers In my career, I’ve seen both sides of that equation, working as a buyer and closely with suppliers. From that quarter-century of experience and exposure, I’ve put together what I believe are the 18 capabilities you should evaluate when selecting the right supplier for you. It’s your responsibility to apply the value you put against each of these capabilities, and to objectively evaluate companies based on what is most important to you and your business. The capabilities are organized into three categories; organizational performance, business attributes and process capabilities. Organizational performance defines the capabilities that most buyers migrate to in order to select one vendor versus another, namely price, quality and speed. But if you use these as your sole determining factors, then you may not be looking under the hood hard enough. It’s my belief that buyers actually use these three to differentiate one supplier from another, only after the other capabilities are determined to be equal, or where one company meets all the others, then we select on these. Would you agree? When evaluating suppliers, I suggest you begin with process capabilities. For the training industry, these are strategic integration, diagnostics, content development, delivery, portfolio management, administrative services, and reporting and analysis. Buyers usually begin their procurement effort by first determining what process capabilities they require of a potential supplier. Then they determine whether a supplier has the business attributes necessary for their engagement. These capabilities are listed as financial stability, cultural compatibility, sourcing or vendor management, talent level of staff, commitment to the customer, geographic reach, or technology necessary to deliver on their commitment. When each of these capability requirements are met, then you get down to the best price, the best quality or whether they can deliver in the time frame you require. In short, before you buy, make sure you have a purpose. The biggest mistake training professionals make is not giving the selection process the proper level of attention or professional diligence. If you are spending your company’s money, then you need to be a great steward of that money. It is your responsibility to your management and co-workers, your constituents or customers, and your shareholders to get the best resources their money can buy. Doug Harward is CEO of Training Industry, Inc., and a former learning leader in the high-tech industry. E-mail Doug at 11 Training Industry Quarterly, Spring 2008 / A Training Industry, Inc. ezine /

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Training Industry Quarterly - Spring 2008

Training Industry Quarterly - Spring 2008
At the Editor’s Desk
Winning Organizations Through People
Before You Buy…
Learning Technologies
Take Your ROI to Level 6
LCMS: A Critical Link to Learning Success
Establishing Best Practices for Learning Governance
Training’s Role in Continuous Improvement
Meet Jim Mitnick
Meet Karen Kocher
Meet Christina Cernuch
The Personal Side of Personnel Training
Closing Arguments

Training Industry Quarterly - Spring 2008