Our Thinking

Trends in Learning Solutions Procurement

Luke Kempski

As a learning solutions provider, we see organizations take a variety of approaches to contracting. These approaches vary by process, time length and scope. In many cases, they are governed by the organization’s procurement policies.

Each approach is different. We adapt to win opportunities where we are the best match. Some of our most recent experiences include responding to the following:

  • A Request for Proposal (RFP) to address the need to develop an eLearning course. The client will award a contract for a single project to the provider they believe offers the best value.
  • A Request for Information (RFI) to develop eLearning content on an ongoing basis. Once qualified, JPL and other qualified vendors would propose solutions for individual scopes of work (SOWs). Each would have its own contract.
  • An RFP to develop eLearning content in which two companies are qualified in budget ranges based on three levels of complexity. A Master Services Agreement (MSA) is put in place with both companies to provide overarching contract terms. For each SOW, the two companies propose solutions and the client selects its preferred solution.
  • An RFP to convert Flash-based courses into learning experiences that work across mobile devices. The resulting agreement will be a fixed-priced contract to convert 50 courses that vary in complexity.
  • An RFP to provide a website, eLearning course and tracking system to deliver mandatory training to an external audience. The resulting agreement will include two years of maintenance with the option for three additional years.

This gives you an idea of the different needs and procurement approaches we have experienced in the first few months of 2014. With some organizations, all communications in the RFP, proposal and selection process will occur in writing only. Other organizations have briefed potential responders through a conference call, but will only answer questions in writing. Other situations have a more open process with individual briefings, an ongoing dialog and an in-person presentation of the proposed solution.

As a provider, we respond to different learning solutions procurement processes and contracting approaches. At the recent Learning Solutions Conference by the e-Learning Guild, I attended a session by William West entitled “Seven Attributes of Highly Effective Development Vendors.” Mr. West has really thought through best practices to successful client-vendor relationships and has captured them in his new book.

I have also written a white paper on how learning solutions partnerships can help propel organizations forward. With a partnership, the provider can learn the organization’s goals, culture and technology infrastructure, then supplement and complement the organization’s internal capabilities.

With this blog, the white paper and William West’s book, I hope a dialog will continue about best practices for forming client-provider relationships. In the end, we’re hoping for successful approaches that best position both the client and provider to use learning technologies to accomplish goals and improve performance.

Read Luke’s Whitepaper on TrainingIndustry.com – A Partnership Model for Expanding Your Learning Offering

Download JPL’s RFP Template

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