With tax season behind us, it’s a good reminder to review our key training supplier relationships. We want to ensure you have regular scheduled supplier/account review meetings. A regular cadence of these meetings confirms that you are on track with program performance and are not caught off guard for any annual reviews.

Just as we pass a milestone on April 15th, we should focus our attention on both planning and executing for the year ahead. A truly proactive and productive collaborative training partner relationship not only reviews historical performance, but also reviews planning for addressing any performance gaps moving forward. It’s important to understand the cause and effects of any past issues, but more important is to address what changes, if any, are required to any processes and/or personnel.

The training suppler brings to these reviews any insights and suggestions based on their industry best practices, and/or any new innovation programs and processes. Hopefully, this was one of the selection criteria as part of your outsourcing activities for a new training partner. This fact should not be lost during your account reviews. You should be leaning on your training supplier to bring suggestions and realistic implementation plans for new practices and processes for your organization to move to the next level. After all, if your organization possessed all of these skills or resources initially, you would not have outsourced the training project.

Now, one of the dangers is not empowering the training partner with the flexibility and freedom to execute any new ideas for your organization. Of course, you want the training supplier to adapt to your organizational culture and any compliance criteria, but you don’t want to be so prescriptive as to stifle the training partner’s innovative ideas. By doing so will allow your organization to be the beneficiaries of your training partner’s real world experiences.

Just as your tax return has real financial consequences, your account reviews should have real financial impacts to your program. Training supplier reviews should capture both hard and soft program savings impacts. A hard savings is typically defined as savings against a standard metric such as previous price paid. Soft savings are usually a little more elusive to capture. For example, a program process improvement can have a real impact on the program performance. It’s important to try and agree on the value of these soft saving metrics internal to the organization by user stakeholders and key departments such as finance and procurement. These definitions should also be understood and agreed to by your training partner to ensure ease of tracking.

Another important data point to review is your company’s performance compared to other companies, especially if your training supplier also provides services to your competitors. This information should be anonymous, of course, in order to not violate any confidentiality agreements with peer companies.  But it’s important to understand how your company is performing to industry standards and the differences why.

Lastly, just as any individual is responsible for keeping up with any tax changes before filing their return, the organization has to keep up with any industry-wide regulatory changes that may impact your program. The training partner can share in these responsibilities, but ultimately it’s the organization’s responsibility to keep up to date.