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When to engage a learning and development practitioner
The importance of writing a good brief cannot be stressed enough. The more effort and detail that goes into the describing the requirement at the start, the less effort will need to be expended in dealing with enquiries and applications. I have known commissioning managers write such short requirements that 80% of applicants had wasted their effort in applying and the commissioning managers became exasperated by the selection process.

This article considers a fundamental aspect when seeking a solution and is what I call the Point of origin. This is the point in the training cycle at which you want to engage a practitioner. As with Channels to market, detailing this will influence type of practitioner with whom a commissioning manager will engage.

The points in the training cycle and likely applicants a commissioning manager may encounter are:
  • Needs analysis;
    the practitioner is required to identify an organisational and/or individual performance gap. They may also be required to design, develop, deliver and evaluate the project.
    It is highly unlikely that a commissioning manager will engage with a Hobby and Jobbing trainer. Also a practitioner who only engages with Associate work is unlikely to apply.
    A failure to get the Needs Analysis stage right will render the whole project worthless; it is like deciding to go to London to see the Edinburgh festival.
  • Design and development;
    the practitioner is needed to create a solution for an already identified performance gap. They may also be required to deliver and evaluate the project.
    It is unlikely that a commissioning manager will engage with a Hobby trainer. A Jobbing trainer may be appropriate for specialist requirements but may not have sufficient learning and development expertise to create suitably robust learning materials.
    There are a number of specialist designers in the market that could undertake this stage and who generally do not Deliver and Evaluate.
    An Associate is unlikely to apply for this, though a trainer who acts as a Super Associate for other Training Companies may be well versed in learning design.

    • The cost of the design and development stage can be an unexpected surprise for the uninitiated. It is not uncommon for a one day training course to take three or more days to develop from scratch. The day rate for a good developer will be comparable with that of a practitioner that delivers. It is vitally important to get this part of a staff development project right. I hear of too many commissioning managers selecting ‘off the shelf’ solutions that bear only title resemblance to an identified requirement or expect not to have to pay for the development of a well crafted bespoke solution. Granted, experienced practitioners will have a certain amount of ‘stock in trade’ activities, modules and workshops from which they can develop a bespoke solution however customisation is a cost that must be expected.

      • Delivery;
        the practitioner is to undertake a solution to close a performance gap. They may also be required to Evaluate the project
        On the presumption that learning materials are already written, a commissioning manager can expect to receive applications from all types of practitioners.
      • Evaluation and reporting;
        the practitioner is to analyse and report back on the effectiveness of the solution
        It is rare for this to be a separate project as it is usually part of the Delivery stage. That said, having independent evaluation of a project can ensure an unbiased view of how well a project was undertaken. Evaluation of a specialist project might be undertaken by a Jobbing trainer from a specialist firm; presuming they have evaluation expertise.

        • Specifying a requirement in sufficient detail will both encourage suitable practitioners to come forward and deter the less than suitable from expressing an interest. That said there will always be those less professional who will apply for anything with a hope that they might be considered for any other training need that might arise in the future. My advice to any commissioning manager receiving such fishing exercises is to note the name and details and place them on an alternate list of ‘do not touch’ suppliers.

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          Peter Mayes

          Peter Mayes.

          Peter Mayes is the founder and editor of TrainerBase; dedicated to helping business and other organisations find trainers and trainers find business.

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