How to Select a Training Outsourcing Company

Written by: TOM CURRY, CPTM – Tom Curry, CPTM is the principal and founder of the Aquinas Sourcing Group. He has over 30 years of experience in the sourcing and procurement profession working for multinational organizations in the telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, utilities and media markets. Tom has a degree in economics from the University of Arizona and a master’s degree in information systems from Stevens Institute of Technology.

Today’s organizations are under increasing stress to reduce time-to-market cycles while still reaping the greatest return on training investment dollars. As corporate training’s impact on the organization grows, the procurement department and chief learning officer have to be well prepared to meet this challenge. The use of sound sourcing principles, combined with a full understanding of training’s unique requirements, will lead to successful purchasing outcomes.

I have developed this selection process from 30 years of working in procurement for large multinational organizations. It’s by no means an exhaustive process, but it is a summary of how to select a training partner.

First, look at your in-house training group, if one exists. But if the training project’s requirements are beyond in-house capabilities, or if resources are otherwise engaged, your training support will come from a third party.

The decision to outsource raises several other questions:

  • Can your existing suppliers handle the project in order to leverage your total spend?
  • Do the existing suppliers have the background, experience and resources to successfully handle a new project?
  • Does the project’s estimated budget exceed any company sourcing policies for bidding (e.g., if the budget is in excess of a specific amount, it must be bid on)?
  • Can the supplier(s) deliver on both existing engagements as well as any potential training programs without impacting the quality of multiple programs?
  • Can the supplier meet the training requirements globally or regionally per program timeline requirements?

A simplified flowchart for this stage would look like this:


 Provider Selection Criteria

Once you have determined that you require a new training provider, it’s important to establish the provider selection criteria before sourcing. This allows for a more efficient process and enables the selection team to know what to look for when they evaluate proposals. A more efficient process translates into faster cycle times.

The selection criteria may include (but are certainly not limited to) the following characteristics:

  • Cultural fit with your organization
  • Company experience level
  • Assigned team experience level
  • Financial stability
  • Diversity or minority status
  • Scalability capabilities (capacity)
  • Price
  • Quality
  • Turnaround time
  • Innovation
  • Acceptance of your organization’s contract terms and conditions
  • Technology capabilities
  • Regulation compliances (if your organization is in a regulated industry)

Saxons Training Facilities Australia - Official Banner

Another step in this process is to rank and weigh your selection criteria. Again, all stakeholders should agree on these rankings prior to the sourcing event. For example, simple weighted criteria may look like this:

  • Cost = 25%
  • Delivery = 20%
  • Quality = 35%
  • Experience = 20%

As your sourcing project planning unfolds, ensure that the following tasks are accomplished:

  • Non-disclosure agreements executed before any sourcing events
  • Signed data privacy agreements
  • IT assessments (if connecting to your systems or hosting a program)
  • Formulized agreements once supplier selection has been finalised 

What is Your Company’s Strategy for Training?

It’s a simple question with complex answers! But to achieve the most value for your training budget, you must develop, execute, measure and manage a cohesive sourcing strategy.

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