Time after time, we hear stories about organisations who sign a lengthy contract with a learning technology provider, only to find that a year into the contract, their requirements have changed to the extent that the learning platform or software no longer meets their needs. These organisations usually end up locked into expensive contracts for systems that just don’t do what they need them to do, and if the technology is proprietary, their hands are tied - they’re trapped by a classic case of procurement failure.
That’s why our Chief Learning Officer Lars Hyland recently spoke to Training Journal’s Jo Cook in a podcast all about how to ensure that your learning technology procurement is successful. You can listen to the full podcast below, or if you only have a few minutes, we’ve pulled out three of Lars’ top tips for avoiding learning technology procurement failure.
1. Avoid a feature-by-feature shootout
It’s easy to do - comparing two learning platforms, finding that one has twice as many features as the other and assuming that it offers better value for money. But this is often untrue - more features doesn't mean you're getting a better deal. Instead, look at your requirements (that gamification module may look cool, but will you ever use it?) and the roadmap of the products - or how much influence you'll have over that roadmap. Often, vendors of proprietary software don't allow any customer input, whereas opting for an open source learning platform allows you to add features and functionality as and when you need them, which could make it a more sustainable investment in the long run.
2. Long contracts aren’t always in your best interests
While long contracts may offer discounts for multi-year subscriptions, you may end up locked into using a platform that no longer meets your needs. Saving a few thousand dollars by signing up to an LMS for five years could cost a lot more further down the line when you have to implement expensive workarounds. What if your company merges with another? What if your number of users doubles - can your LMS contract still accommodate that? What if you buy a new HR system and it can't integrate with your learning platform? There are lots of reasons to avoid long contracts, especially when it comes to the fast-moving world of learning technologies, so think carefully about whether that annual discount is really worth it.
3. In times of rapid change, open technology prevails
Once you've experienced the freedom of open technology, it's hard to go back to proprietary learning software. This is because open platforms enable organisations of all sizes across sectors and markets to adapt faster when the world around them is changing so rapidly. Whether it's another economic shock, a giant market-wide change requiring immediate compliance (like the introduction of GDPR across the EU in 2018) or simply a change in your organisation's structure, an open platform is the best way to ensure that you're ready for whatever the world has to throw at you and your business.
Do you agree with Lars? How do you avoid learning technology procurement failure? Listen to the full podcast on the Training Journal website, and tell us what you think.