Selecting a supplier will often depend on how training is managed and the habits of the manager. Often trusted and known trainers will be used time and time again and training managers will be aware of their fees, availability and flexibility.
Difficulties occur when choosing new providers. This is where you need to know exactly what your organisation needs, and to communicate it to potential suppliers.
Adrian Snook, founder of Learning Accelerators and former deputy chief executive of the Training Foundation, says: “Less important or less pushy clients can end up with the trainers that no-one else wants.”
Ten tips to help you pick the right supplier
- Use providers you, or the department, know or trust.
- If using a new trainer, meet them face-to-face first and interrogate them about their experience, qualifications and knowledge of subject and the business your employer is in. If dealing with a training company, ask for details of trainers they will supply and arrange to meet them. Training qualifications vary from a few days of a ‘train the trainer’ course to a CIPD or even teaching qualification. These show a commitment to a training career but are not proof of competence.
- If you’re planning to use a new-to-you training company for a sizeable training/development programme, consider inviting bids. When assessing bids involve appropriate colleagues.
- Ask for supplier to provide a short-ish training demo.
- Check trainers’ or training companies’ track records – always call previous customers for references and comment.
- Always ask what providers charge and what room there is for negotiation. If you are booking for a lengthy or expensive training course, you should be able to drive the price down.
- If thinking of sending a delegate on a public course ask the supplier if you can sit in on a session to evaluate the trainer and the course.
- If you draw up an agreement, whether written or verbal, with a training supplier, ensure there is a get-out clause if the trainer does not deliver.
- Accreditation – in some fields training suppliers should have third-party accreditation. This is especially so in IT training, but will also apply in training related to professional development, for example in accountancy, leadership or HR. Training managers must ensure that in such instances suppliers have relevant, reputable and current accreditation.
- There is no golden rule when it comes to choosing between the big, the medium and the one-man band. Large training providers will generally charge more as they have higher overheads. But they will probably supply better presented training materials and will not rely on the customer to do so. They should also be able to better manage longer and more complex training courses where several trainers are utilised. BUT – large training companies will use freelance trainers anyway, perhaps calling them associates, very few have many permanent trainers on their books.