Preparing to Work with a Content Development Vendor
This was originally posted on td.org
Partnering with a training consultant is a great way to boost your team’s expertise in creating cutting-edge training.
Of course, there are inherent challenges in this type of collaboration. Your training development processes may have to adapt to include your new partners and it may take some time on both sides to grow into a shared sense of purpose—but it’s worth getting the relationship started on the right foot. Frontloading design strategy and setting processes during the kickoff can have a big impact on the project in terms of aligning expectations and meeting timelines.
Let’s consider a few ideas on how to set up a successful collaboration with your training consultant.
Understand Your Role
To minimize frustration, your team should begin with a clear understanding of what they will contribute to the project and what the learning vendor brings to the table.
The specifics of this exchange should be negotiated with the vendor to better take advantage of each team’s expertise. Generally, your team will act more like project managers: gathering content, scheduling subject matter expert (SME) interviews, and reviewing deliverables. It’s certainly helpful if your training consultants are experts in building corporate training solutions around the subjects you need to be developed. But, in some cases, your team may be the SMEs. If so, there will be lots of hard questions to answer as they work with you to get to the root of the performance gaps and build a learning strategy.
Enlist the Right Support
As you assemble your own project team, think about the specific involvement for each individual. There will be certain periods in the process when your content development partners will need to consult with your experts, and your project will slow if you can’t meet this need.
This time commitment will likely be limited to a small group. Though there may be any number of stakeholders who need to weigh in on the training design, a sufficiently fleshed-out team can be organized to limit their input to one or two key decision points without creating unnecessary bottlenecks throughout the project.
Know Your Objectives
A good learning consultant will work with you on articulating clear employee development objectives, but you should enter the conversation with some idea of what behaviors you hope to encourage or improve upon in your learners. The more concretely you can describe the intended impact of the training, the more effectively the content development team can focus on high-priority learning activities and dedicate less stage time to topics that don’t contribute to the intended outcomes.
Gather the Content
Be prepared to share any information you have on the training topic, critical behaviors, and key performance indicators. When your content development partners have full access to existing documents and training materials, they are better positioned to identify gaps and recognize opportunities to collect missing information from other sources. The more complete the initial content is, the less burdened your team will be with explaining every detail to their content development partners.
Commit to the Partnership
Your training consultants are here to help you. Be clear about your needs and availability and they will strive to work within your culture and program. Throughout the development process, speak openly about your ideal schedule, milestones, and outcomes. Like any relationship, the likelihood of success increases with trust and communication.