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Top 4 tips when looking for an e-learning provider

Anyone who has ever researched e-learning solutions will know that it’s a saturated market with a minefield of acronyms (do you know your SAML from your TinCan?).

Having shortlisted e-learning solutions recently for Morgan McKinley, I thought I’d share my top tips for anyone who is going through a similar process within their business.

Take it back to basics
Before speaking with anyone externally, my personal recommendation would be to speak with internal stakeholders and your learners to understand what you really need from an e-learning platform. It’s so easy to get swept up in the aesthetics and quick wins, but it’s important to stay focused on your company’s key requirements. For us, an engaging, easy to navigate tool where we can tailor content at a regional and career level was crucial. Break down your requirements into ‘essentials’ and ‘desirables’, so that you stay focused and go back to your priorities. Once agreed, it’s time to look to the market and select your vendors.

Googling ‘e-learning providers’ and working your way through the list would take all year! Speak with people within your network; colleagues, peers and friends. Have they used a great e-learning tool elsewhere? Look for local events where the providers showcase their talent - the bi-annual Learning technologies conference in London is a fantastic opportunity to meet the teams behind the technology and see the tools in action. From here you can shortlist your favourites and schedule a few demos. 

Don’t be afraid to ask
My experience of liaising with vendors is to get the big questions asked early doors - it can be frustrating to get those ‘deal-breaker’ answers later on the process, remember, your time is precious. There are many categories of questions to consider:

The Company: Does their vision and strategy for the future align with what you’re hoping to achieve? The provider should be familiar with their future (as well as past) roadmap, which will give you a great insight into where they’re heading.
Customer support: This may be especially important if you have offices across timezones. What are their support hours and by what method (ticketing system, via email?) Is there a knowledgebase for self-service? What are the average SLA’s for resolution?

Implementation timeframes: If your company need to go live by a particular date, it’s best you share this with the provider asap. They should be able to present you with detailed examples of their project approach: from initiation to realisation. You will also need to allow time for customisations, admin training, UAT testing and bug fixing so these will all need to be considered.   

Costs: This can be a difficult conversation, however you need to understand their approach to pricing. Are there any hidden costs? (i.e. set up fees, training, upgrade costs) Are licence fees based on active or registered users and what are the thresholds for these? 

Security and IT: You’ll need to consider things like integration with existing HR systems and/or single sign on. If this is not your area of expertise, ensure that you are engaging with other areas of your business so that they can ask the right questions. 

Who will you be working with?
You will be working closely with this company for a significant period of time. The pre-sales phase should be telling for your future relationship - no question should be left unanswered and they should be bending over backwards for you! If you like the technology but you’re getting a sense of “it’s not me it’s you” - see if you can change account managers. If there is any confusion as to whom you will be dealing with ASK and make sure the communication is working both ways. You should absolutely be asking to speak with their existing customers about their experiences - you can then gauge what this company are like to work with at every stage of the process.

It’s exciting times here within the Morgan McKinley Learning & Development team as we work towards finalising our e-learning provider and I strongly feel we have found companies that we can work collaboratively with to ensure the final result is closely aligned to our business strategy, vision and company culture. Good luck with your ventures!

  • Apr 27, 2016
  • Careers , Culture
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Andrea Webb

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