Vendor Management: Finding and Managing the Right Training Partners

by Dave Letts on March 13, 2013

To meet all the technology and training needs a company has, it sometimes means bringing in outside help. But, who can you trust to do the job right, to be a part of your team – and at a price that meets your budget? That’s where vendor management comes in.

While managing a training vendor can be a time-consuming process, it can also lead to beneficial, long-term partnerships, more efficient training and improved project management. In the best case scenario (and what we strive to achieve in all our interactions), the corporate training professional becomes an extension of your team – fully engaged and as invested in the desired outcome as you are.

It helps to view the process of managing a training partner as the sum of four key steps – identify, qualify, source and manage. Let’s look at each step separately.

  1. Identify. First, identify the skills or services gap(s) that your corporate training leader needs to address. Will they be supplementing a skill that the company already has in-house, or will they be addressing a new area? Outline exactly what you need and the scope of the work. That will set the tone for the vendor search. The training partner needs to provide solutions that address all aspects of your learning needs – strategy, tools, processes and technology – in a customizable and scalable way. Once you know what you need, you can start identifying potential partners for the job – either via a RFP, RFI or qualified recommendations from industry peers.
  2. Qualify. Qualifying vendors helps to eliminate some of the risk involved with hiring a third-party and ensures that you get a partner that is as equally invested in your company’s goals and success as you are. Establish a set of criteria (and rank by criticality) that each vendor needs to meet to be eligible to work with your company. Evaluations shouldn’t be based solely on capabilities, but also how good of a cultural fit a particular corporate training provider is for your company. What characteristics does your company look for in a training partner? How invested is the training provider in the relationship? What does success look like to them – and does it match your definition of success? Can that success be measured?
  3. Source. Draw up a contract that clearly states what you’ll be getting from this training professional – and them from you. Identify a point person within the company to oversee the contract and onboarding process. Ensure that your partner understands the need – and has the ability – to integrate with established corporate training programs.
  4. Manage. Be aware of what other vendors (if any) they are working with that would impact their arrangement with your company. And, most importantly, regularly evaluate your corporate training professionals to ensure they are meeting the terms of their contract and that there is still a mutual commitment to the desired outcome. Your training partner’s solutions will need to evolve with your organization over time. Ensure the plan is scalable and takes your future state into consideration.  

Working with outside training professionals is a great way to gain access to skills or services that your company does not currently possess. It also introduces a new level of risk to the company so it is important to properly vet and manage the vendors to ensure they meet your company standards. Do this and you may just find a long-term partner.

For additional insights into finding and managing the right partners, check out our post: 5 Considerations When Selecting a Corporate Training Partner.

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