Complete Guide to Choosing a Training Provider
Training is no longer a “nice-to-have” in successful organizations. It has become a critical part of any company’s investment strategy if they want to continue growing long-term. Trainings promote employee loyalty and retention, improve performance levels, and increases employee independence, among many other benefits.
In choosing a training provider, one of the most important factors to consider is the content being offered. Great training providers offer customized content and programs that are tailor-fit to the organization’s needs and objectives—not generic, one-size-fits-all materials.
Insist on a provider that customizes program elements such as case studies, role plays, and activities to ensure that they are relevant to your company. The content to be delivered must also be up-to-date.
For example, if you’ll be needing to train to advertising practitioners and media buyers, you want training content not just on traditional media like print ads and TV commercials, but also on digital media buying platforms like Facebook, Google, and YouTube. This principle applies when selecting training providers in almost any industry because of the rapid development in technology. After the program delivery, the provider can measure the success of the training through a post-training component such as a test or presentations from participants. Of course, if you will require training certifications, make sure that your trainer of choice can provide this, too.
Another characteristic of an excellent training provider is the ability to offer end-to-end training processes. Meaning, the provider can perform a training needs assessment for organizations that may only have a tip-of-the-iceberg idea of what their training needs actually are.
When looking at the content, you also need to check with your potential training provider if they can provide training materials and handouts that trainees can use for future reference. Be extra vigilant on this: PowerPoint slides are not handouts. Make sure that the materials provided will support the learning needs of your organization.
2. Experience and Reputation
When you’re hiring a new employee, you interview them, you look at their skills experience, you contact their professional references, and you do background checks on them. This is essentially the same process you should go through when outsourcing a training provider. Do they have experience in training sales and marketing professionals? Do they have leadership development programs? What about technical skill development?
Find out the provider’s depth and length of experience in the topics you need trainings for. Talk to them about the programs they’ve delivered in the past to see if they can deliver what you will need.
It will all depend on your training objectives. Make sure to get information on whether the vendor has offered courses to other organizations within your industry and how long they have been in the training business. If they look great on paper, it may also be a great idea to meet the said individuals before agreeing to anything. This way, you can do an interview and see if they will be good cultural fit for your organization.
If you’re looking to work with a large provider, you also want to learn about the specific individuals that will be delivering or facilitating the training. Ask for the trainers’ CV so that you can personally look into their skill level and experience, and decide whether they have sufficient knowledge in your required topics.
Reputation is also just as important as experience when it comes to training providers. It will also be preferable if you can get at least two client references you can contact for feedback. Go beyond asking if their training was any good by asking what it’s like to work with the vendor, how was their customer service, and how flexible were they. Also, ask for two things you wish they would have done differently so you can get an even better service out of the provider.
A critical factor in selecting a training provider is everything related to the program delivery.
If you are a large organization who need trainings in various locations, you need to find out if they can deliver consistent trainings across cities. Larger providers with more trainers may be better if this applies to you. It may also be worthwhile to find out the reasoning behind their recommendations. Note that more often than not, no single delivery method can meet all your learning needs effectively.
During your search for a vendor, find out what is their recommended method of delivery. Will it be in a single, classroom-setting setup? Will it be a hybrid solution with some online or e-learning elements?
Consider asking the provider how long they expect the training program to be as well. For the program to be effective, however, the length should primarily be determined by the training needs, and not by monetary constraints. Attempting to get your training provider to squeeze a 3-day training into just one day will just be a waste. Observe industry standards when it comes to training duration as some providers offer shorter training hours just to entice potential clients.
It’s also important to ask the training provider everything they expect to deliver—from materials to guides and the program delivery itself. A great vendor will work with you on designing every element of the program to ensure that learning needs are met. If a vendor claims that they can deliver in just three days or agrees to all the dates you propose, you may want to reconsider them. Great providers will often need two-week lead times or more and have prior bookings with other customers.
The anticipated delivery date also needs to be agreed upon between you and the training provider. While you may want to have the training done the soonest possible time, any reputable provider will need time to meet with you and discuss your requirements, as well as design a customized program for you.
Finally, ask the provider if they have any guarantees on the delivery. For example, what arrangements will be in place in case the trainer falls ill on the scheduled delivery date? Will you (and the vendor) be amenable to a replacement trainer or a new schedule? These things need to be discussed ahead of time.
As with most services, trainings offered by different providers will come in various forms—from one-hour learn at lunch programs to customized leadership development courses. Depending on your budget and requirements, you have to find vendors who can meet you on both ends.
Because corporate trainings are important for your employees’ growth, you need to be careful in selecting your training provider. Look at the provider’s content and track record, and see if their program lengths, method of delivery, and fees, meet your training requirements and resources. Here’s a downloadable checklist you can use as a quick guide in comparing training providers. However, it’s important to be realistic. If you need a tailored 3-day course for your organization, expect to pay more than you would for a short two-hour talk. If a provider charges much less than others for the same service, walk away. Remember: you get what you pay for.