Over the years we’ve seen many guides and articles on steps to take so you don’t regret your next team learning system or authoring tool. In our experience these 4 questions set the stage for any engagement with a vendor.
1) What are the top two current learning headaches in my organization which keeps me up at night? Can a learning vendor easily solve them?
There are probably more than two! For example, your headache could be; “It takes too long and too many resources to use my current LMS or authoring tool” or “My team doesn’t have time to create all the new training my learning audience is asking for”. Limiting to two or three top pains makes it clearer to you and easier to see which vendors are really able to solve them.
When we say the vendor can “easily” solve your key “keep me up at night” headaches we mean there won’t be a consulting project proposal accompanying their quote to you. Solving your key problems is already in their wheelhouse. Be sure to also ask them for references to clients like you where they’ve solved the same headaches.
2) Which vendor’s solution will meet my core requirements but take the least time to administer and use?
In our experience, the biggest issue most every training professional faces is lack of time. The new learning solution or authoring tool shouldn’t take any more time to use and administer than necessary. There is a learning curve when ramping up to go live but the ongoing rigor of maintaining and updating content and making sure the right people see the right content and achieve the desired learning outcomes should be as easy and fast as possible.
In the past, verifying this was difficult since most trial solutions did not allow access to all features and could not be easily configured to how the system would behave when live. Today, many SAAS based systems let you try before you buy or encourage starting with a paid/ live system with only your group and let you scale as you like it to the whole company.
For authoring tools this is getting very easy, you can try before you buy most that are available today. Even so, many learning professionals who are looking don’t take the few minutes to ask themselves: “I know this authoring solution is robust but would I or my team really want to use this on a daily basis?” Again, asking the vendor for specific clients like you can really shed some light.
3) Which solution will most rapidly drive my learning audience to more desired job behaviors?
This is the catch-all question to make sure no matter how much you like the learning and authoring tool vendors you are considering they can justify that their approach will yield the fastest job performance change in your audience. Speeding up the process to onboard, ensuring ongoing job skills and procedures are present along with compliance awareness and leadership skills in our audience has really been our goal all along.
For example; a given authoring tool may have some exciting new visual effects, but can the vendor show you that it improves the comprehension time for an audience? Is it really worth it compared to a simpler and easier to use authoring tool which is easier for learners to go back to and review a week or two later when they need a refresher? Does a specific gamification or social feature in a vendor’s learning solution demonstrate how it will aid in the learning process? Or does this make it more annoying to the learning audience? Make sure your chosen vendors can show through reporting or by example of existing clients how they’ve sped up and maximized audience comprehension and time to achieving desired job behaviors.
4) Which learning vendor according to their clients has the best support?
This is one of the most important and goes beyond SLA or response time specs. Since after you’ve chosen the vendor, you’re entire line of communication, help requests, midnight messages to the support desk will do more to affect your learning project either being a success or failure by how well your vendor addresses and supports your success.
Finding the answer to this through client testimonials as well as current client references are the best ways.