There are two operating philosophies that are common to all organizations—whether the enterprise engages in industrial manufacturing, service, distribution, finance or any other kind of business—Total Quality Commitment and Just-In-Time.

Total Quality Commitment seeks to develop a dedication to the customer, a predictable process of manufacturing, operations, or service, a climate in which employees strive for continual improvement and the desire to get to the root causes of problems. The TQC philosophy involves people at all levels of the organization. It is a day-to-day operating method which succeeds through shared information, where data is gathered at many key points both inside and outside the company to monitor manufacturing quality, service quality, and customer satisfaction. This information can be used to improve methods, cut waste and respond to customer requests.

Just-In-Time fits well with TQC because it has a consistent operating philosophy of problem solving, continuous improvement, techniques aimed at eliminating waste and achieving excellence. JIT requires that everything be done right the first time, so “Quality at the Source” must be implemented to prevent defects before they occur. This works best in an atmosphere of employee involvement. JIT can be implemented in any enterprise on a “low-cost/no cost basis.”

As an operating/manufacturing-production technique, organizations that successfully implement Just-In-Time can expect to experience significant and dramatic benefits:
• 20% to 50% increase in direct and indirect labor productivity
• 80% to 90% reduction in manufacturing lead times
• 40% to 50% reduction in cost of failure
• 8% to 15% reduction in cost of purchased materials
• 50% to 90% reduction in raw material and work-in-process inventories
• 30% to 40% reduction in space requirement
• 30% to 40% increase in existing equipment capacity utilization

So it is, as well, with the training vendors you encounter. Ask them the following questions in order to ascertain whether their offerings will help you meet your TQC or JIT commitments:

• How do you select the program subjects you choose to produce? (CORRECT ANSWER: “They are chosen by the majority of our customers to meet their specific needs.”)

• How are your programs actually produced? (CORRECT ANSWER: “They are produced internally by our Instructional Designers, programmers and SMEs. They are then reviewed by some actual customers before being released. They are not produced off-shore in a template environment.”

• Have your programs been submitted to a “Reading Level” analysis? (CORRECT ANSWER: “Absolutely — and they test out somewhere between a 4th and 6th Grade reading level, which means the training will be readily absorbed by all of the individuals in your workforce.”)

• How did you shoot the video scenes used in your training programs? (CORRECT ANSWER: “They were shot in real plant environments, using real plant workers and real plant equipment in order to simulate what your workforce will actually see later when they’re on the job.”)

Of course, there are other important design factors to consider when making your evaluations but, for the moment, the above four will give you a very good idea of the credibility of the vendor you are evaluating.

— Bill Walton, Founder of ITC Learning