Outsourcing: What and How?
Some companies choose to outsource all or most of their training needs. Other companies choose to keep training in-house and invest heavily in a training staff that creates an original curriculum. Most companies fall somewhere in between. According to a recent ASTD “State of the Industry” report, the percentage of training dollars companies spend on external training products and services is steadily rising. Companies surveyed spent approximately one-third of their training budget on outsourcing.
What about you? What is your training budget and how might it best be spent? Part of your needs analysis should include deciding how much to outsource. One of the first things you should do is survey your employees, determine what resources you might have there that can be tapped.
Long term employees usually have more knowledge about how to do a job safely, and are able to relate their experience directly to co-workers with a relevancy you’ll never find in a PowerPoint presentation or manual. If you find that expertise, but the employee is uncomfortable in a teaching position or speaking in front of a group of fellow employees, they can still be a great resource. Instead of teaching in the classical sense, they can instead assist in the writing or updating of policies, procedures or the development of training programs.
Once you’ve decided to purchase some of your training materials, you’ll need to choose with care among the great variety of materials available, from hundreds of sources.
Choosing Prepackaged Training Materials
There are many quality resources available for your compliance and safety training using several different training methods. There are also a lot of sub-standard products out there to avoid whenever possible. Here are recommended criteria you should use to evaluate the various products available.
Classroom or Instructor-Led Training Materials
Many companies and organizations produce PowerPoint presentations, videos, DVDs, handouts, and other useful resources that can be purchased for delivering classroom training. How do you choose which products are the best for your needs?
Check for these features:
- The materials cover all the regulations pertinent to your industry.
- They are easily customizable. They allow you to delete information that doesn’t apply to your company, for example, or add information such as your state’s regulations or your company’s specific policies and procedures. They allow you to place your company logo on materials, or even do it for you before shipping.
- Their information is current and reflects the latest revisions or new preferred methods in the industry.
- They contain relevant illustrations to the subject and industry.
- They provide Certificates of Completion or other training verification that helps you keep accurate records of who has completed required training.
- They provide easily accessible technical support for computer-related products.
Computer-Based Training (CBT)
Computer-based training products should have the features of classroom materials plus:
- They should have built-in interactivity– the more the better. Exercises, case studies, scenarios, or other activities test learning by requiring trainees to use what they’ve learned to make decisions.
- They integrate quizzes and tests throughout the learning to guide trainees through the material at their own pace. For example, if trainees don’t get all the answers correct in a quiz, they need to repeat that section of the material before they go on to the next level to ensure they learn the materials.
- They may contain scheduling software that enables trainers to electronically schedule trainees and set them up for training.
- They may contain tracking software that enables trainers to track trainees’ progress, test scores, and completion rates. This software should be easy-to-use and adapt to help you maintain employees’ training records.
Online or E-Learning
Web-based training is basically CBT training administered and used over the Web, so use the same criteria when choosing Web-based materials that you use for CBT. In addition:
- Look for Web links to other Internet resources, such as industry groups or government sites, where trainees can go for further information.
- Ensure your in-house computers meet all the system requirements to receive the full benefits of the online multimedia components. You’ll need to verify both hardware and software compatibility.
- Ensure your company’s bandwidth is sufficient for one or multiple users to take online training.
- Look for an underlying learning management system (LMS), which enables you (or the training administrator) to merge the training scheduling with training tracking.
- Teleconferences and webinars, or Web meetings, also require your in-house computers to meet a minimum level of system and software requirements. Some vendors may require you to install specific software in order to access their Web broadcasts. These online conferences also require your Internet connection to be fast enough to receive the broadcast.
- In addition, you need to consider who is giving the presentation, what organization they represent, what their qualifications are, etc. Since these are the same criteria for choosing an outside trainer, refer to the next section in which we cover this training resource.
Outside Consultants/Professional Trainers
To choose the best outside trainer: Evaluate several speakers, because there are many available for most topics. You may want to have an evaluation committee to help you research and choose speakers. Look for the following information:
- How many times per year does each contender speak in public?
- How many times have they spoken to audiences in your particular field?
- Do they have a portfolio with video samples of their work?
- Have they published articles or books on the topic?
- Are they members of professional training and/or industry organizations?
- What do previous clients say about them?
- Has the speaker been asked to return?
- Did the speaker provide a pre-session survey?
- What information is in their proposal? Read promotional materials thoroughly since speakers often offer their best tips in their portfolios. If you’ve heard it all before, they may not be the most up-to-date speakers you can find.
Consider using a speaker locator service to assist in the search and ensure results. Unlike speakers’ bureaus, which represent a stable of speakers, speaker locator services work for their clients. The locator service identifies clients’ needs and searches for a speaker who most closely matches those needs. The service works similarly to a real estate agent, wherein the buyer is presented with options until an ideal match is found. The service is free to employers; speakers pay a commission to be in the locator’s database. As noted in the previous article, look to your heavy equipment rental and leasing contractors for equipment specific training if they offer it.
Outsourcing is Not a Bad Thing
If you don’t have the resources in-house to fully implement a safety training curriculum or program, there are many, many excellent resources available that you can leverage. The key is to determine which is the most cost effective, yet professional, current and relative to your needs. Most pre-packaged programs offer demonstrations or trial offers for their products. Utilize those fully, as they will not only help you determine if that particular product is suitable for your needs, but also help you understand what you are really expecting or looking for in a program.
- SCORE With Sensible Training Schedules (safetygator.wordpress.com)
- Anything but PowerPoint: five fresh presentation alternatives (pcworld.com)
- CUMeeting Online Training Software (easyvideoconferencing.wordpress.com)
- E-Learning (josephineyamstone30.wordpress.com)
- e-Learning as a Learning Tool (olaosheila.wordpress.com)