In procurement, some categories of goods and services are easy to compare.  What you get from one supplier may not be much different than what you’d get from another supplier.  In those types of categories, your results will be similar, regardless of which product, service or supplier you choose.  You almost can’t lose.

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Other categories are characterized by more differentiation between suppliers.  Quality, speed, cost, service, innovation, and social responsibility can vary tremendously between suppliers.  And the business results you can reap from your purchase of those categories will vary as well.

Online procurement training is one of the latter categories with significant differences between suppliers.  Because it is a category that procurement leaders only buy once every few years, most procurement leaders do not know where to start in trying to understand what those differences are.  This series is here to help you identify all of the various factors that you should evaluate when making online procurement training decisions.

The first factor that we’ll cover is Quality

Think about some of the people that you know who have negotiation as one of their job responsibilities.  Chances are, most of them would individually claim to be a good negotiator, right?

But are each of those negotiators equally as good?

Probably not.  And I bet you can identify two of those negotiators that are the furthest apart:  one who really is good and one who only thinks he is good.  Again, though, both of them will say that they are good negotiators.

Such is the case with negotiation training.  Some of the offerings will be great and really teach your procurement staff some useful tactics and techniques, and some of them…well, won’t.

For example, I am looking at negotiation training material from two providers as a type this.  Both suggest using open-ended questions in a negotiation.  However, one provider includes a multitude of examples of such questions.  The other does not.  Which of the two would you consider to be higher quality negotiation training material?

While this one example may seem trivial, imagine eight hours of training where one provider offers no examples and the other offers plenty of examples.  You can imagine that, if there were two students each participating in this training with a different provider, there will be quite a difference in the post-training performance of those two students!

The bottom line is that quality must be part of your evaluation of online procurement training options.  There are many ways to assess quality ranging from reviewing public one-to-five-star ratings to actually getting to sample the material itself.

Never assume that because two providers offer training on the same topic that your team will receive equal benefit regardless of the supplier.

Stay tuned to this series as I cover more ways you should be comparing online procurement training providers.

Disclosure:  I am the founder of an organization that offers online procurement training.  However, in this series, I will not mention the name of my company nor the names of any competitors.  I will keep this totally general and vendor-agnostic so that you can get the benefit of one perspective on evaluating online procurement training without getting a sales pitch touting a specific provider.

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is an internationally-recognized business expert, legendary procurement thought leader, award-winning entrepreneur, and provocative blogger. Charles founded the Next Level Purchasing Association in 2000, oversaw its incredible growth, and successfully led the organization to its acquisition by the Certitrek Group in 2016. He continues to blog and provide advisory services for the NLPA on a part-time basis as he incubates his upcoming business innovations. Charles is also the co-author of the wildly popular, groundbreaking book, "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

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