Evaluating Training Providers

Big-picture business perspective.

By Hank Moore, Corporate Strategist

Everyone talks about the benefits of training, but it’s important to identify these benefits in your organization. Then, when you are ready to look at potential training providers, you will know exactly what you should expect to receive from them. Below are the seven biggest benefits of training, followed by tips for selecting and evaluating training providers.

7 Biggest Benefits of Training

  1. Measurements. Test scores, grades, class rankings, GPA, SAT, professional certifications, licensing examinations, juried awards. Whether in school or business, we are all measured. Knowledge helps to make and predict society’s measurements, which are expected.
  2. Thinking-Reasoning Skills. What we learn is important. Further, what we do with lessons, how facts are interpreted, how we approach problems and the faculties of common sense are vital to economic, social, and self-betterment success.
  3. Socialization-People Skills. Through trial and error, success and failure and the observation of other people’s strengths and weaknesses, we learn how to live and work with others. Mastering people skills makes for win-win propositions.
  4. Professional Development. Education does not stop after the highest degree completed…it merely begins. Training, professional enrichment, membership in associations, and constructive business interaction are vital for career longevity and economic independence.
  5. Mentorship. Learning from others takes a higher plateau when under the wings of experts. Mentorship (which has seven levels) is a stair-step process of bettering all participants. Meaningful lessons, paying dues, and developing relationships empower those who make the effort to “go the distance.” Learning from different and informed sources is the art of mentorship.
  6. Earning Power. Education (formal schooling, professional development, and enhanced-relationship study) has a direct relationship to financial rewards. It begins with school but bears fruit in the willingness to learn, change, and grow professionally.
  7. Future Life. A truly successful person commits to mentoring others, giving back, mastering change, and never failing to learn. Education is more than confirming one’s held beliefs. It plants knowledge roots, which sprout in ideas, applicabilities, and lifelong insights.

These pointers are suggested in the selection of training providers:

  • Ask a senior business advisor to help determine which consultants are needed, write the training program, evaluate credentials, and recommend contracting options.
  • Understand what your company really needs and why.
  • Don’t pit one consultant against another, just to get free ideas.
  • Don’t base the training decisions on “apples to oranges” comparisons.
  • Ask for case studies that were directly supervised by the person who will handle your training—not stock narratives from affiliate offices or a supervisor.
  • Find out their expertise in creating and customizing for clients, rather than off-the-shelf programs they simply implement.
  • Determine their abilities to collaborate and interrelate with other consultants.

These pointers are suggested in budgeting for and pricing services:

  • Budget for training at the start of the fiscal year, averaging 10 percent of gross sales.
  • See training as an investment (short term and long term), not to be short-changed.
  • Every size of business needs training.
  • The company that makes the small investment on the front end (training) saves higher costs. Research shows that training investments foregone are multiplied six-fold in opportunity costs each year that action is put off. (This is another of my trademarked concepts, known as The High Cost of Doing Nothing.)

Questions to consider in evaluating training providers include:

  • Would you feel comfortable if they ran your company?
  • What is their longevity? Were they consultants 10 to 20 years ago? Consultants must have at least a 10-year track record to be at all viable as a judgment resource.
  • What is their maturity level? Could they appear before a board of directors?
  • How do they meet deadlines, initiate projects, and offer ideas beyond the obvious?
  • If one level of consultant sells the business, will this same professional service your account? Big firms usually bring in junior associates after the sale is made. Demand that consultants of seniority staff the project.
  • How consistent are they with specific industries, types of projects and clients?
  • How good a generalist are they? Trainers with too narrow a niche will not ultimately serve your best interests.

Professional status is important. Prospective clients should inquire about the consultant’s:

  • Respect among current and recent clients.
  • Reputation among affected constituencies within the business community.
  • Activity in professional development and business education. If they do not pursue ongoing knowledge progression, they are obsolete and not valuable to clients.
  • Track record at mentoring other business professionals. Check to see they give beyond the scope of billable hours.
  • Pro-bono community involvement. If they have done little or none, they are not worth hiring. Top professionals know the value of giving back to the community that supports them, becoming better consultants as a result.

The ideal training provider:

  • Clearly differentiates what he/she does…and will not presume to “do it all.”
  • Is a tenured full-time consultant, not a recently downsized corporate employee or somebody seeking your work to “tide themselves over.”
  • Has actually advised a business.
  • Has consulted companies of comparable size and complexity as yours.
  • Has current references and case histories.
  • Gives “value-added” insight…in contrast to simply performing tasks.
  • Sees the scope of work as a professional achievement…rather than just billable hours.
  • Pursues client relationship building…as opposed to just rendering a contract service.

A regular contributor to www.trainingmag.com,Hank Moore has advised 5,000-plus client organizations, including 100 of the Fortune 500, public sector agencies, small businesses and nonprofit organizations. He has advised two U.S. Presidents and spoke at five Economic Summits. Moore advises companies about growth strategies, visioning, strategic planning, executive leadership development, Futurism, and Big Picture issues that profoundly affect the business climate. He conducts company evaluations and performance reviews. He creates the big ideas, mentors the board members, reorganizes the corporate culture and anchors the enterprise to its next tier. The Business Tree is Moore’s trademarked approach (and the title of his current book published by Career Press) to growing, strengthening, and evolving business, while mastering change. For more information, file://localhost/visit http/::www.hankmoore.com.

Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training APEX Awards and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 30 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.