After months of painstaking evaluation and assessment, you’ve identified a learning need or skills gap within your organisation that needs resolving. But you don’t have all the resources you need to develop a solution in-house.
So, you decide to outsource your learning, whittling down your options to a shortlist of key providers.
Selecting a learning provider can be a bit of a minefield.
How can you pick a winner and be sure they’re right for you?
A learning provider isn’t just a one-off arrangement: they should be there to support you before, during and long after the project.
To prepare you for these initial meetings with prospective providers, I’ve put together five critical questions you need to be asking.
1. Tell me more about your team – what are the different roles and who is responsible for what?
This question will give you a good idea of both the size of the team and the specialisms within it. L&D professionals, instructional designers, designers, digital developers, eLearning developers, facilitators, coaches and project managers are a few of the roles you can expect to come across.
Many of these are technical roles requiring technical expertise – an instructional designer, for example, would need to have a solid grounding in learning theory and content development. The more experienced they are, the better prepared they will be to make recommendations and develop a solution that is aligned with your specific needs.
2. We want to work in collaboration and be involved throughout to ensure it’s delivered on time and to budget. Talk me through your project and account management process.
It’s all very well having technical know-how, but that won’t count for anything if it’s not supported by the organisational skills of an account manager who can handle day-to-day queries.
Does the provider have a robust project and account management model to support delivery? And does it work for you? Are they agile?
3. Although the programme we need is based on a generic topic, we would want it to be customised to our organisation. Can you do this for me?
How willing your provider is to spend time getting to know your organisation will tell you a lot about their ability to customise the programme to your specific needs. The most thorough providers will spend time getting to know your organisation during scoping meetings before the project starts. Armed with knowledge about your culture, background and potential constraints, the provider will be prepared to introduce a solution that works for your people.
4. What are you best known for?
Leadership, coaching, digital solutions, blended – there’s plenty that providers can cover, but you want to know what they do best. If it doesn’t match what you’re after, then you’ll need to look elsewhere. All providers will have ‘solutions’ in general, but you need to understand their areas of expertise. It’s worth digging a little deeper to ensure they can truly deliver your vision to a high standard.
5. How much will the project cost?
It depends what you need, but a good provider will have a set rate card. For your quote, this should then be broken down into days to complete each task and the associated cost. This way it’s clear for both the customer and the provider what’s being provided. If the scope changes, then additional time for the task can be added at the set rate, so there are no surprises!
Remember that additional extras like video, voice-overs and bespoke illustration or design will bring extra costs, so it’s crucial to have a firm idea of what you’re after and whether your budget is realistic.
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Here at Bray Leino Learning, we offer a proactive, customer-centric and agile model of account management. This means we are partners throughout. We assign a dedicated account manager and administrative lead to each project to ensure a smooth delivery process, forming a relationship that lasts well beyond the end of the project. With regular check-in calls, we keep you up-to-date with progress and send you the latest development work to sign off, making iterative changes as soon as they’re needed – rather than waiting until the end of the project.
If this sounds like the sort of relationship that would work for you, then get in touch for a quick chat to find out what how we could work together.
Kerry Pascall, Head of Digital Learning, Bray Leino Learning
In my series of blogs you can expect some tips on implementing eLearning, what to consider when commissioning eLearning, design tips, software and authoring pros and cons, and general advice on everything eLearning!