To meet the needs of the business and to build successful relationships with e-learning suppliers, it is clear that training managers need to both up their profile and increase their understanding of what e-learning can offer. Adrian Snook is Director of Corporate Development for The Training Foundation, which for the past year has been providing this training in the Manager track of their Certified e-Learning Professional programme: “E-learning is becoming a
competency for training managers. Managers may use
in the early days to help them out, but they cannot afford to be without those skills in the long run. It’s important that e-learning is not separated out from the rest of training and addressed only by the more technical members of the training department – everyone needs to be involved. In fact I’d go further and suggest that all
of the procurement team be put through some form of e-learning primer.”
Develop your understanding of e-learning. Attend conferences and
. Take one of the certification programmes
by the Training Foundation or the CIPD.
Know what your organisation really needs. Use e-learning to solve real-world problems.
Research the market for appropriate suppliers. Use consultants to help you if need be in the early days.
Get to know the suppliers you are interested in working with. See whether they look like people with whom you would like to enter into partnership. Check that they can really deliver on their promises and will be
to your needs.
Don’t ask too many companies to tender nor submit every small contract to tender. Aim to build long-
relationships with a limited number of suppliers.
Be honest with your suppliers. Let them know the political, cultural and financial realities that you are up against.
with your IT department early on and work with them to find solutions that are compatible with your organisation’s IT strategy.
Don’t always go for the
price. Price is only one of the criteria that should determine your choice – quality and delivery are equally as important. Remember that your suppliers need to make a profit too – that way they’ll be around to continue the relationship in the long term.
Make sure you have senior management support for what you are doing. You’ll need their support and their access to funds.
Don’t let all this scare you off. There’s plenty of help available and most e-learning suppliers are a
to work with. The same may also be true for those working in finance, IT and purchasing, although that’s not
Snook points out how times are changing for trainers: “Training managers are used to spending in relatively small amounts. E-learning tends to be front-loaded, which means big spending up-front to make even bigger savings down the line – the sums are greater and so are the risks. Training managers are having to deal with multiple stakeholders, including finance, IT and the purchasing department. These people don’t always share the same goals, and
not the same vocabulary.
need the expertise to make sure they get what they want and the organisation needs. All too often a vague
to tender is responded to by suppliers who offer to build completely different things at very different prices. You end up comparing apples with oranges. Another danger is that more qualitative issues such as instructional design get shuffled down the list at the expense of technical specifications and financial issues. Don’t forget that, in the end, the goal is learning, not compliance with standards or getting the best price.”
In the advertising industry they say that
get the marketing they deserve. To get the e-learning that your organisation
means knowing what you want, knowing what’s possible and being able to build partnerships with people who can
possibilities into realities. There’s a challenge.