So, as a company, you’ve made the decision to start offering not only your own training to client companies, but also to start brokering training courses from other suppliers as well. This is going to present benefits to your business, but it will also present challenges. As with all things, preparation and planning are key.
How many companies will you be using to offer additional training? What kinds of courses? What kinds of deals are you negotiating with them price-wise? Do you already have existing relationships with these companies, or will you be approaching them all from cold? Have you factored in the time it will take to manage negotiations, set up deals, and collate data? Have you researched how much of an appetite there is with your existing client base for an expanded course offering?
The main challenge with brokering training will be in organising various offerings from a range of suppliers; and making it easy for your clients to access the expanded offering. To make this work efficiently, well-planned systems will need to be in place to manage details:
- Course content
- Essential course details (dates, venues, entry requirements)
- Standardised content
- Negotiated discounts
- Points of contact
- Public details / internal details
- Repetition of content
- Public visibility (which courses, what type of training can each of your clients access?)
- Tailored content / course catalogues
An immediate solution might be to try and collate all the data in a spreadsheet. This kind of manual information management presents a number of challenges. We’ve spoken to clients who have been using manual systems as a matter of course, and haven’t realised before speaking with us that there are simpler ways to approach the situation. They are faced with the challenges created by using a manual system (for example a spreadsheet) to manage people and training in a ‘live’ context. The potential for error is significant, and some companies may not have realised just how much, until they begin to investigate alternatives. The risks are obvious when you start to consider them:
- multiple staff amending one spreadsheet, or even making copies
- using spreadsheets to manage the planning, details, contact information, pricing, and content from a range of suppliers
- specialised requirements – for delegates and special arrangements with suppliers
- training-related admin
Once the pitfalls of using a manual system have been identified, it will be easier for you to understand how to address them. You could try to improve manual systems, by tightening up processes, and using a stricter set of guidelines, policies and rules for staff to employ while updating information.
Have you weighed up the pros and cons of using technology as a solution? This would obviously cost more than an in-house solution. It could be a prudent investment though, especially if you are scaling your business up to work with a number of suppliers, and to offer a much greater range of training. Choosing a solution which is designed to match all the challenges presented will make things more efficient and effective in the long run. Researching an online training administration system could meet all the concerns and objectives for your organisation.
You’ll need to consider a range of options if you start to explore this route. When comparing systems, think about:
- Overall functionality. Compare system functions against each other, but also against your organisation’s needs. Find out if functions can be tailored, or switched on/off, find out if there are tiered levels of cost relating to function.
- Reporting ability. Over time, you may find that customers start to look to you for advice. The more analysis you have of their booking patterns/requirements/financials, the better placed you will be to provide live analytics of their situation. This will position you in a great place to be able to start offering strategic advice to clients.
- Meeting a brief. If what you are looking to do is consolidate the training offerings from various suppliers, how well does each system meet that brief? How easy is it to standardise information, upload courses, maintain discounts? It’s important that the system functions well for customers booking training, as well as working for your own team to use internally.
- The costs. How much does each system cost? Consider licensing fees, set up fees, development fees, support fees.
- The future. Can the systems you’re evaluating evolve at a pace that matches your organisation?
- Ease of use. How easy to use are the systems you’re looking at? How easy is it for a customer to search for a course, book a course, enquire for further details?
- Support. Once a system is implemented, what does the support look like? How accessible is the system’s support team? How responsive? How effective?
Since 2002, we’ve made it our business to help organisations with all of this. Right from the first conversation with us, we’ll work with you to help you address all these issues. In our experience, developing a business to include brokering training can be very profitable and successful. It allows you to broaden your training offering and the services you provide. This can allow you to strengthen client relationships, earn a trusted advisor status, and allow you to drive profits. Cloud-based technology offers a neat support solution for this – providing a single platform from which you can manage every angle of your business – both behind the scenes and on the client side of the business.
Starting out as a broker of training can seem a little daunting, there are many facets to making it a real success. We can offer sound advice on many of the issues at play, based on expert industry experience. We understand the lead times, layers of decision making, and concerns around this type of improvement planning. Give us a call, and see if we can offer any advice based on where you’re up to already.
Have your say
What do you think? Are you considering becoming a champion of training brokerage? Get in touch and tell us about your experiences.
- What services does your organisation offer at the moment?
- What are your objectives with training brokerage?
- What are your current plans for managing the additional workload?