Training is no small item in your organization’s budget and strategic plan and choosing the right training provider can often be an extremely stressful and confusing task.
From the thousands of training providers available in the market, how can you be sure to pick the best option to meet your organization’s training needs?
How can you make sure they will deliver great training and offer the best value?
To help you in this challenging task, I have put together 10 tips for you to consider when making your selection.
1. Does the training provider understand the culture of your business?
How long have they been around for? Who have they worked with? Do they specialize in a specific region or do they offer training courses around the world?
Although an international provider will provide a wide variety of training courses and trainers, regional training providers will have experience in dealing with professionals from your region and apply training tools and techniques that will meet your employees’ learning styles. Additionally, make sure the training provider has experience delivering training courses in your specific industry.
2. Do they care about your training needs?
When asking for a proposal, the training provider you are looking for should be asking enough questions to ensure they meet your training needs. A good provider will want to understand your objectives so they can offer you the most suitable solution. They are also not afraid to turn down the opportunity if they feel they do not have the expertise you require.
Be wary of the provider who doesn’t ask you any questions as they assume your needs are the same as others and will offer you an “off-the-shelf” solution.
3. Have a look at their website
You might say that anyone can have a good website, and yes to some extent this is true. In today’s world, even the worst training provider can have a very attractive website. However, a bad website IS representative of a low quality provider. Here are a few things to watch out for:
- Is it easy to find a course per category? Per title? Per date?
- Is the contact information professional? If it is a mobile number or a Hotmail/Yahoo account, this provider must be avoided!
- Can you find the course outline for each training course offered? If not, they are most likely trying to attract enquiries and leads on courses they do not actually provide
- Do any of the page links lead to Error messages?
- Can you clearly see the price for each course? Or do you have to contact them to find out? A professional training provider is transparent about their prices.
- Spelling mistakes – Training Providers are in the business of education, there is no excuse for shocking spelling mistakes, grammar errors or formatting disasters. Even the best writers may now and again make a mistake, but multiple ones are simply not acceptable
4. Beware the training provider that offers EVERYTHING!
Who can really have all the expertise required to offer hundreds of courses for hundreds of industries covering hundreds of topics?
Of course, these providers are tempting as they claim to be able to meet ALL your training needs, but beware, their sole interest probably is the sheer volume of participants they attract and the income they generate rather than the content they provide. Do not compromise on the quality of your training.
5. Who are the trainers?
Always ask for the trainers’ CV and/or profile so you can check out their background. Do they have the expertise to train adult learners on that particular topic? To answer that question, you must look at it from 2 different perspectives:
- Technical Expertise
The trainer must have worked in that industry and must have held senior roles in that specific area of knowledge. Ideally in multiple renowned organizations with both international exposure and experience in your specific region. This will ensure they follow global and local best practices and can provide relevant examples and case studies.
- Training Experience
Being an expert in their field does not mean they have the ability to effectively share their knowledge with adult learners. It is crucial you make sure the trainers have training experience too.
6. What accreditation do they offer?
There are 3 main types of accreditation for all training courses:
- External Accreditation – from an awarding organization which is recognized by your local authorities
- Approval from a trade body
- In-house certification from the training provider itself
External Accreditation tends to be the most reliable indicator and in-house certifications sound the least credible.
But don’t judge too fast, although the accreditation is important, the Quality Assurance systems the provider has in place is what truly matters.
Indeed, a training provider offering in-house certifications but who uses qualified and experienced instructors following recognized guidelines and standards is often in a better position to deliver professional high quality training.
External Accreditation can truly support your employees’ career path and provide them with valuable qualifications. But beware of providers who may have many logos on their website but are likely to break the rules to cut costs and ensure all of their participants pass.
External Accreditation is an indicator but it’s not a guarantee.
Approval or endorsement from a Trade Body is a nice stamp of quality to have, especially if valued within the industry.
7. Do they offer multi-channel and innovative learning methodologies?
How does the training provider approach the learning experience for their participants? Is the provider always looking for new ideas and solutions to help them achieve their learning objectives?
Is the training interactive? Does it include several hands-on exercises and activities every day? Is it mainly a lecture or will the participants learn by doing? Will it include real case studies? Will they come back to your organization with templates/ check lists or other practical tools? Will the trainer engage with the participants through different media such as videos / audios / site visits/ simulations?
Make sure the methodology used for each training course is relevant not only to the type of knowledge your employees must gain but also to the profile of the participants.
8. Can they customize their content?
This is true both for public and in-house courses.
- For public courses: Public courses have an advertised course outline to follow and flexibility may be limited. However, will the trainer adapt to the audience by sharing relevant examples and case studies? Will the trainer adapt to the level of the participants by bringing the level up or down depending on their seniority and experience? Will the trainer be willing to add specific topics if requested by the participants or will the trainer refuse to put in the extra work or deviate from the advertised outline?
- For in-house courses: The training provider must give you the option to customize the training solution to your specific learning requirements. An in-house training course should not be an “off-the-shelf” solution.
9. Do they measure progress and record attendance?
Now, this is extremely important as it will help you measure your return on investment.
Make sure the training provider will keep a record of your employees’ attendance and that they will inform you of any late comers or absentees.
Too many training providers only care about the revenue they generate and have no problem handing out certificates to participants who miss most of the course and didn’t gain the knowledge you paid for.
It is also important to measure the progress of the participants throughout the course. Therefore, choose a training provider that can validate the learning through questionnaires / exams or presentations.
Reliable training providers have specific requirements for the issuance of certificates. Be sure to ask what they are.
10. You get what you pay for
As a general rule, you do get what you pay for, and this is especially true for low cost providers. The only way a training provider can be drastically cheaper than the competition is by cutting their costs; that means the quality will be affected at different levels:
- quality of resources
- experience and qualification of the trainers
- quality of the equipment
- facilities of the training environment
- size of the class (is it too large to the detriment of the learning experience?)
- course duration (is it shorter in terms of hours or days?)
When choosing a cheaper option, be aware of what you are willing to compromise.
I hope the above tips were useful for you. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us directly.
Emeline Omont / Founder, MomentuM Coaching & Consulting