Working with Vendors
This page provides links to resources on how to work with vendors including how to write a Request for Proposal (RFP).
Articles in date order, most recent first.
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"Whether you're selecting a learning management system (LMS), a learning content management system (LCMS), online courseware or some other technology component to support your learning initiative, you know to look closely at the technology, pore over our checklists and pay particular attention to the "yes/no" boxes down a laundry list of technical features and specifications. Yes, technology is important. It gives us great capabilities and potential for learning and development. It gives us delivery options and the ability to track and quantify learning activities and results. But technology alone is just half of the equation. Too often, we forget about the impact that service and support will have on our success." Frank Russell, CLO Magazine, August 2004
Added: 7 August 2004
At the beginning of e-learning history, many vendors simply sold the sizzle of technology without the appropriate regard for service. In this traditional model, responsibility for delivering and servicing the software and its end users rested with customers and their internal IT resources. But in today's fast-paced global economy, many organizations are changing that old model by making technology vendors provide both the technology and the service they need to be successful."
"When a CLO invests in a vendor, the consequences involve more than acquiring a product's technical capabilities. The CLO is also buying into a set of multi-year relationships that may drive future strategic and tactical choices in areas as diverse as content creation, content delivery, learning management, learning infrastructure, analytics and consulting. Likewise, the vendor hopes to become an indispensable part of the CLO's external resources, with one contract leading to another and its industry reputation enhanced." Katherine O Foreman, Chief Learning Officer Magazine, April 2004
Added: 30 April 2004
Conclusion - "Under the best circumstances, a thriving CLO-vendor partnership allows both organizations to educate each other as the project moves forward."
"For most training managers, the buying of goods and services is relatively routine: purchases are made on a drip-feed basis throughout the year to many suppliers and in relatively small amounts. However large the overall budget, most of the transactions are small and for short periods. E-learning has changed all that. Whether you are purchasing a learning management system, buying licenses to off-the-shelf content or commissioning bespoke development, the contracts into which you will be entering will be for large amounts and will have an impact over long periods. Buying e-learning is a skill that all training managers will need. In this article, Clive Shepherd talks to buyers and sellers to find out what it is that makes the perfect e-learning buyer." Clive Shepherd, tactix, July 2003
Added: 18 July 2003
Includes some guidance on how to be an expert e-learning buyer.
"In Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, author John Gray argues that there are innate differences between men and women, and only by acknowledging and accepting them can people form positive and lasting relationships. Although I think that there are real dangers in forming broad gender stereotypes, I do think there are some general differences between e-learning professionals when they're on opposite sides of a transaction." Kevin Kruse, Learning Circuits, April 2003
Added: 19 April 2003
As Kevin summarises "Rather than wishing we were more like each other, we should acknowledge our differences and accept them. Only then can we gain a deeper level of understanding and a higher level of communication and productivity."
"Here's a primer designed to prepare training and HR professionals to work with their information technology group and e-learning suppliers. It provides 20 questions training professionals need to ask, including definitions, examples and concepts that are important when assessing suppliers and working with IT departments." Margaret Driscoll and Michael Denehy, Learning Circuits, 24 January 2003
Added: 24 January 2003
Some useful questions that could also be included in an ITT (Invitation to Tender) or RFP (Request for Proposals) document.
"How do you evaluate e-learning developers, choosing between suppliers who seem very similar? Don't just kick their tires--check under the hood, too. Here's what to look for." Lori Mortimer, Learning Circuits, December 2002
Added: 16 December 2002
Some criteria on which to evaluate content development vendors
"Partnering is "hot"--especially in e-learning. IT managers new to the concept, or those without considerable external expertise, often ally themselves with content providers, infrastructure vendors, or services companies only to find themselves dancing with different partners long before the music stops. The two most common mistakes we've seen in online learning partnerships are the Accidental Partnership and the Porcupine Partnership. Here's what to watch for, and how to avoid them." Heather Shea-Shultz and John Fogarty, e-learning Magazine, 12 December 2002
Added: 13 December 2002
"Great partnerships succeed because they have soul! And, the soul of partnership is allegiance to six core protocols that direct the rhythm of the relationship."
"Avoid RFP nightmares with three simple but effective project-management best practices: Communicate, Coordinate, Cooperate." James E Powell, Enterprise Systems, 1 November 2002
Added: 6 November 2002
A thorough look at the main steps in issuing and dealing with RFPs
"Do chills run down your spine when asked to manage an e-learning project that you know will involve suppliers? Do suppliers take you where you need to go or where they want to go? Do your supplier-driven projects invariably cost more than initial proposals? How can you fortify your e-learning project management strategies?" Darin Hartley, Learning Circuits, December 2001
Added: 18 December 2001
Here are some tips to keep your project in the black.
"The old adage caveat emptor certainly applies to the current e-learning marketplace. Many start-up e-learning companies have failed or have been absorbed into other companies. Consulting firms will help companies develop a strategy and select tools, but their prices are often steep and their strategic alliances with suppliers cause concerns about objectivity. So how can an e-learning manager navigate the supplier landscape to build a sound e-learning strategy and a scalable, flexible architecture?" Susan Guest and Jennifer Juday, Learning Circuits, November 2001
Added: 12 November 2001
A guide to the different e-learning tools and services
"Quick tips for surviving the interoperability myth ... There's a war out there. It's vendor against vendor slugging it out in the trenches for a stranglehold of the market-space, and a little longevity, too. Yet, after the smoke lifts and the casualties are counted, quite often these days the loser of the battles is not a vendor, but the buyer." Michael Rosenberg, e-Learning Magazine, October 2001
Added: 11 October 2001
A "field survival kit to help you and your company win the next battle when you engage in action with a vendor"!
"Not all e-learning vendors are alike; in fact, there are six main categories of suppliers." Clark Aldrich, Online Learning Magazine, October 2001and November 2001 (http://www.nielsenbusinessmedia.com/?vnu_content_id=1108350)
Added: 30 September 2001
An description of the six types of e-learning vendors.
"Managing vendor demos and presentations is a critical phase in selecting the right learning management system for your organization. How To Manage Vendor Demos answers frequently asked questions about managing vendor demos and presentations, and it provides information about preparing for vendor demos and presentations - and what to expect during the presentation." Report to download from Brandon-Hall at $75.00
Added: 10 August 2001
If you want to know how to get the most out of vendor presentations, this might be for you.