1. Decide specifically who your participants will be, and list the things you want them to be able to do by the end of their learning process. This is much more useful as a basis for discussion and planning than simply a course or subject title.
2. Choose between three and five providers for an initial approach by telephone. A word of mouth recommendation from a colleague or associate is a good way to source providers, or of course you can research a few websites. Ask about their experience in delivering this type of training, and about fees. You can also ask them to send you sample programme outlines.
3. Interview two or three “shortlisted” providers personally, and ask how they can build and deliver the learning outcomes you want how long it will take, and how much it will cost. This will give you more relevant information, and will be a better test of the providers’ experience and capabilities, than simply asking them to “come and present what they can do”. Ask for a written proposal.
4. If the learning you are after involves the acquisition of new skills or competencies, ask about the opportunities on the course for practical work and skills practice – and be realistic about what time this will take.
5. Insist on meeting the trainer(s) who will actually build and deliver your programme, not just an account manager.
6. Agree initially on a couple of pilot programmes. Set up in advance a review meeting with the trainer to take place after the pilots, so you can agree any adjustments before committing your budget further.
7. As with everything else, “cheapest” is not always good value. Courses which claim to cover the same ground in half the time are usually short on practical work and skills practice. Whatever you choose, and whichever provider you select, assure yourself the training will deliver the specific learning your participants need.