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The Way I See It… How to Choose a Training Provider


TrainerWith an ever-increasing number of training providers offering a bewildering array of business related training courses, choosing the best supplier for your business can be a difficult task. Mike Gardner, Managing Director of WMG Associates, offers some advice.

Cutting through the jargon and ensuring that the training you purchase meets the goals you want is crucial yet there are suppliers out there who are keen to ‘pigeon hole’ clients into certain types of training simply because it may be easier or more profitable for them.

Know you needs
The first and most important thing that the client company should ensure is that they know what their need is and what the training should offer. That should be the starting point for all negotiations with potential suppliers. If a supplier tries to skirt the issue or fails to explain how a particular learning outcome will be delivered then it is time to look elsewhere.

When it comes to selecting a supplier, the customer must be sure that that supplier has the client’s best interests at heart. If the supplier has not dealt with a company of your kind before than they should make the time to come and learn about your sector and your business in particular. If they can’t be bothered – or say it isn’t necessary - then again it is time to move on.

However, while experience in working in the client company’s sector may be desirable it should not necessarily be a prerequisite. There is always something to be said for a fresh approach although at least a basic understanding of the jargon and key industry issues is preferable. The key thing is for the company to have a good overall track record and reputation. It is never a bad idea to ask a prospective supplier if you can talk to some of their existing clients about their service, while your own industry contacts may also be able to help.

While the training you are arranging may not be accredited there is no reason why your supplier should not be. Organisations such as the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) and the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) have very stringent procedures for vetting potential suppliers of the courses they accredit. An organisation which has done enough in one area to reach the standard required by one of these organisations (or a similar industry body) will generally offer high standards across the board. A supplier who knows their stuff may in any case be able to get accreditation for training which may not previously have been thought possible.

Flexibility is another key issue. The client needs to make sure not just that the content of the training is right but that it will be delivered when and where the client requires it. For example, a company wanting its night shift workers trained will be wasting its time dealing with a supplier who is only prepared to operate during ‘normal‘ office hours. Once again, be clear exactly what you require.

In this type of instance – or if you want the course completed quickly - a private supplier may be a better bet than a college who may sometimes be cheaper but whose courses tend to run at fixed times on fixed days. You will also have more say over the delivery methods. Much of course depends on the type of training being considered. Cost cannot of course be ignored but going for a supplier simply because they are cheap is a classic false economy if the training does not deliver what it should.

Learning transference
The final question the client needs to ask is: "What is the supplier doing to ensure that the learning is transferred back into the workplace?" There are suppliers out there who believe their role ends the moment the course assessment questionnaires are collected in, but what should be remembered is that for the company the end of the training should mark the implementation of the things which have been learned.

This is where the better suppliers really come into their own. Many will help the delegates draw up individual action plans with agreed timescales, which are then followed up. These can also if necessary be used as the basis for appraisals and give employees a chance to put into practice what they have learned with the company benefiting as a result. Indeed, some suppliers even offer ‘lifetime’ support via e-mail or telephone.

The training supplier who you don’t hear from after the formal training period is over should certainly never hear from you again!

It is true to say that the real impact of the training often only becomes apparent weeks or even months down the line but those companies who have taken the time to choose the right supplier will be the winners in the end.


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