So you want to buy a training program from one of a cadre of vendors.

What could be easier! Just pick out an appropriate title in a catalog or on some courseware vendor’s website — and, order it. Piece of cake!

Really?!? Is that the way to make your informed choice?

Not likely!

Assumptions are being made here that may cost you much bigger bucks than the money you spend to buy the training titles you’ve chosen!

So, why isn’t it that easy? Just pick out the right titles and run!

Well, you wouldn’t buy yourself a car that way, would you? You’d be looking for the most value you could afford — right?

Absolutely! You wouldn’t purchase a car for yourself solely by looking at automobile-names on a website or in the newspaper Want Ads.

And, that is because you’d undoubtedly want to, first, test drive the car. Most likely, you’ll want to look up car ratings on an appropriate website. And, you might even want to talk with friends before making that purchase.

So, what makes you think that buying training courses can be successfully accomplished by looking at course titles in a catalog, cutting a PO, and sending a check?

Nope! We’re not so smart if we purchase training that way. For buying a subject-title, with a course description, might just give us a “car” that doesn’t run very well and ends up costing us more to maintain than it was ever worth in the first place.

Yet, Price — not, Value — is what is driving too many training courseware purchases today. And, looking at course titles and accompanying descriptions is absolutely no way to make courseware purchases.

You need to examine the program first — be it by requesting a demo or a link to the vendor’s E-Learning portal.

When you are “test-driving” that course you need to look for the following:

• Does the content covered address my requirements?
• Are the work and safety practices correctly portrayed at all times?
• Are the proper instructional design elements present?
o Multi-sensory design using full motion video or optional word-for-word audio for your less fluent readers?
o Short segment learning using performance objectives?
o Minimal use of written text for learning?

After the “test drive,” you should perform at least three more important checks:

o Ask the vendor for user lists of other customers in your business segment.
o Ask the vendor if they use off-shore production to produce their titles — for, if they do, you are going to be buying “cookie-cutter” product and not the individually-designed courses each topic-area separately requires.
o Check the response time of the vendor’s “customer service.”

We’re all looking for Value with our purchases. Buying training should be no different.

PowerPoint presentations adapted to the Web, as well as adapted written procedures and text-heavy CBT are not training. At best, they give some information and, at worst, they will waste the time of your employees — which, after all, is the most expensive aspect of any training initiative.

You’re looking for Value — not, Price! Value will not only give your employees needed skills — those well-trained employees will contribute to the efficiencies and profitability of your organization.

Value will be worth every penny! In fact, as we have seen, it will ultimately cost your organization far less than Price.

More on Tuesday – – – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder, ITC Learning