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Archive for October, 2015

In Memoriam: Gerald Clor

Jerry ClorIt is with deep sorrow that I pass along the news of the death of our colleague, Gerald Clor.

Most recently with UCB Pharma, Jerry spent many years in the training field with companies such as Bayer, Sanofi, Roche and BMS. Jerry also served as a consultant, particularly in his field of specialization, Managed Markets Training.

At the LTEN Conference this past spring, Jerry was the picture of health – trim and vigorous, and (as always) ready to teach. However, he fell ill during the week; and when the doctors treated him, they discovered that he had a Stage 4 untreatable cancer. This was stunning news, as he had been asymptomatic before that week.

I had the privilege of working closely with Jerry throughout the years and considered him to be, not only a very knowledgeable and personable professional, but a genuine friend. Jerry and I used to meet for lunch at an Irish pub in Parsippany (NJ) to brainstorm business and it always struck me how energetic and enthused he was about his work. He wasn’t looking to retire – he had too many ideas, and an irrepressible drive to teach.

He was a veteran, a family man, and a truly amazing networker. More than that, however – he was a true gentleman.

Jerry was one of the good guys and will be truly missed by all who knew him. The announcement of his passing is here.

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You want to hire the right provider for the job. Some mis-matches are obvious – you don’t hire a plumber to represent you in court; nor do you contract with a fast-food trainee to fly a jumbo jet.

(those aren’t decisions so much as DUH-cisions!)

But when considering a training vendor, it’s often not so clear-cut. What I’ve seen over the years is that there are several distinct types of projects, which require different kinds of vendors (though with some overlap). I’ll make an attempt to classify these different types of projects with one of my patented Ugly Graphics

Project4

That sea of boxes is about as clear as mud, so let me explain. Let’s start with the bottom level, Short-term/Single-focus projects:

Project1

Most training departments undertake a number of smaller, more focused projects each year. Examples include:

  • Smaller training modules
  • Selling workshops
  • Compliance courses
  • Facilitation training

Many boutique vendors specialize in such areas and do a great job with these more limited-scope/limited-focus endeavors. Choosing among them can be a challenge because there are so many providers, and some of them overlap.

These point solutions definitely play an important role in the outsourcing of training. These projects can range from a few thousand dollars on up to six figures, but they typically retain a fairly narrow focus and, often, a short timeline.

It’s important to bear in mind, however, that not all boutique vendors have the scale to tackle the next level of project, the Major Initiative.

Project2

Some training projects take a number of months to execute, with lots of moving parts, and a more complex rollout. This will require a vendor with a more diverse set of in-house (and contract) resources and solid expertise in customer-focused project management. Examples include:

  • Product launch meetings (and full learning systems)
  • Technology rollouts
  • Curriculum re-design
  • Major eLearning conversions

These vendors may still be “boutique” in their focus, but they’re well beyond the two-people-in-a-garage phase of business growth. Most of these projects will be budgeted at the upper five figures (at the low end), into six figures.

Often, these vendor partners may also do short-term projects for you; however, their sweet spot is handling your larger, multi-faceted headaches. When successful, these can become productive long-term partnerships involving multiple initiatives over the long haul.

There is one higher-level provider – that rare breed of Consulting/business process/organizational design partner. These larger entities specialize in multi-year change management blueprints (and execution), helping a training organization to properly configure itself for present and projected future needs. They may also provide staffing services and major project outsourcing:

Project3

These types of organization-wide efforts are generally not initiated at the department level – they are typically spearheaded by executives who oversee the entire commercial training function. And the vendor/partners that provide this level of service are not boutique providers – they undertake 6 and 7-figure projects that touch every aspect of the training function.

(Let me note here that Impactiviti, as a client-vendor matchmaking service, has best-in-class partners hand-selected for you at all of these levels).

OK, now let’s remove, for the time being, that final rarefied strata of organizational design because those projects are less common. There are still a couple of other types of vendor/providers we want to consider whose services flow into, and out of, the other types of projects:

Partner4

On the one side – what we might call “setting the compass” – are those firms that provide high-level strategic direction for the department. These services can include:

  • Benchmarking studies
  • Process design
  • Curriculum design
  • Branding and identity for the department*

The main offering here is high-level expertise to help training directors map out plans and structures that others (internal and external resources) will typically implement. These boutique providers range in size from individual consultants to larger life sciences consulting firms.

*(this, by the way, is a niche consulting service Impactiviti provides directly)

A growing emphasis on outcomes leads to a growing emphasis on metrics and measurement, so one emerging area is the more technical area of assessment and analytics. Some providers of other services will provide some level of outcome-analytics, as will some of the consulting firms. This will certainly be woven into any organizational-design level initiative. Expect this practice to increase in importance, as it is becoming more central in all of healthcare.

I hope that this classification helps – over many years, I’ve seen projects fall roughly into these categories, and it helps greatly when selecting the proper vendor to keep in mind what is the scale and nature of the project. You can contact Impactiviti at any time (AskSteve@impactiviti.com) for targeted vendor recommendations for any of your projects.

What do you think – did I miss anything with these diagrams?

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You’ve got a bunch of content for new hire training, but really need to spice it up with some practical, interactive reinforcement.

What now?

That was the challenge for one organization – and, happily, one of Impactiviti’s valued partners had a solution.

Read about it here: Case study: Home Study Interactive

HomeStudy 1

Impactiviti helps you find the optimal vendor/partners for all your outsourced training needs. Contact us today (asksteve@impactiviti.com) to discuss your needs and get targeted recommendations!

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Certainly, there are interpersonal and relational aspects of a client/vendor relationship that are vital to long-term partnership success. After all, who wants to work with a jerk or an insenstive boor (on either side)? ;>}

But those skills are not enough to make projects go smoothly. One of the most important practices that any client can cultivate is a great process for spelling out project requirements.

Here is a very helpful article on the outsourcing process (including a good definition of the acronyms RFI/RFQ/RFP), reinforcing many of the skills and behaviors that I have seen work well over the years.

A pull quote:

The quality of proposals you receive will only be as good as the RFPs you send to them. If you do a poor job of articulating your needs, the supplier must speculate and make assumptions. Being vague communicates to the supplier that you are not sure of your own needs. Your objective is to get the supplier to put forth their best proposal.

Read the whole article. There is an art and science to drawing up good proposals, and projects often go off the rails not because the developer is “bad,” but because there simply weren’t enough details to get on the right track.

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