Tag Archives: procurement training

Does your organization optimize the effectiveness of its talent development program?


It’s a sad fact that many organizations devote on a large portion of their annual budget to developing their teams, but rarely get the desired results. Often organizations don’t take the time to develop key metrics to measure the change in skillsets, behavior or impact of the training.

While procurement and supply chain training provides best practices and new tools, many organizations fail to embed the learning through a linkage to the business process. Unfortunately, over time, the learning is lost as people return to their daily routines and old processes.

5 things companies can do to improve the effectiveness of their development program:

  1. Create linkage between training tools and business processes
  2. Build metrics and checkpoints to assure that tools are embedded and used
  3. Align all development programs to the industry and company using case studies and real life examples
  4. Build programs on a fundamental and advanced level that add value to participants
  5. Measure and report ROI resulting from the training

Today employees are in an environment where they are multitasking, highly distracted and working in matrix organizations with multiple masters. They resent spending time in a training environment that provides limited value.

To be successful, training must be meaningful, provide tools and value linked to a process that will deliver results and a high ROI.

How effective is your company’s training?

How serious is your talent development program?

training List

Three myths about training

Over the past two decades I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the world’s greatest companies on talent management programs where dedicated chief executive officers, chief purchasing officers, L&D leaders and HR executives have focused on employee development and growth. The reality is that some companies are dedicated to the overall competency of the individuals in the team, while others are looking to check off training and provide a feel-good exercise with limited results. Those who simply “check the training box” believe they are helping their team because of 3 myths.

Myth 1: online learning works as a standalone solution for development
With the pace of business today, many people delay taking online learning modules until they reach a deadline or their subscription is running out. As a result, many students cram the material to meet deadlines, but the learning is neither used nor retained. Online learning is great as a prerequisite for instructor-led learning or coaching. It enables gaining a common vocabulary, presenting basics and bringing everybody up to a common platform prior to a project, web meeting or a training class. I once had a discussion with an HR director who had an objective to conduct recurrent training. He told me that by using disaggregated online training modules, he meets his objective, has no travel costs and will be considered a hero in his organization. The unfortunate fact is people will be wasting time taking the modules without any impact on the company’s or individual’s overall performance. Many organizations buy online learning subscriptions that are never used.

Online learning is an effective tool when combined with other learning and development activities.

Myth 2: a training workshop will improve competency

While a training workshop will expose individuals and teams to new concepts and ideas, the attendees rarely apply the new concepts and tools to their daily work. Many people come to the workshop, spend several days, make friends, have some fun and return to an environment where processes and hectic schedules do not facilitate the embedding and use of new tools. Most effective workshop programs I have seen have online learning prerequisite requirements, instructor-led course delivery and a project assigned at the end of the course. The project normally is completed in six months and must deliver tangible benefits to the by demonstrating the use of all the workshop tools. The instructor is available to act as a coach and the employee’s supervisor monitors the project through its completion. Once completed, the company provides credit for taking the course and enjoys direct benefits, the employee has embedded the learning and there is a high return on investment for the development program—I’ve personally witnessed a validated return of $40 for every $1 spent in a training and development program using this model. I am now using this model with a subscription-based category management program that is delivering even better results.

A training course combined with a program to embed the learning delivers tangible benefits for the company and individuals.

Myth 3: management can watch from the sidelines

Unfortunately, some management believes training of any kind is good for the team. They’re happy to see it launched, but feel that they already know the course content and see no reason to participate. Without involvement of management, the team fails to take it seriously. On one assignment, I had to stop the training program to develop a crash course for the leaders who realized their team was speaking a new language and using new effective tools that they didn’t understand. Leaders learn a lot by observing individuals and team dynamics during training. Leading by example through participation in the training always delivers higher performing teams with incredible results.

Management participation in learning programs shows commitment to building and retaining top class talent.

Witnessing these 3 myths, I’ve fundamentally changed my approach to learning. Action learning and small group coaching always leads to embedded skills and their application. Long gone are the days where training is just a few days away from the office and training manuals get dusty on the bookshelf.

A radical change to the development of teams and individuals is required. The old methods just don’t work anymore.

Are you still scheduling a training course just to meet an annual objective?

Are the traditional consulting and training models dead?

dead trees

I have been consulting and leading training initiatives for 24 years and have seen changes in tools and techniques, but basically, the delivery methods haven’t changed a lot. When I read an article in the Wall Street Journal this week by Lora Koldony, I thought a lot about the traditional models used in the past and the way I have changed my consulting delivery model in the past year. The WSJ article focuses on micro-learning as the way forward for training. The author quotes a study by Microsoft citing “the average attention span – the amount of time person can stay focused on a single task, filtering out distractions – in North America dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2015 thanks in large part to smartphones, on-demand entertainment and social media infiltrating people’s lives.”

Companies like Pernod Ricard, Gap and Uber have adopted a form of education called micro-learning: breaking down concepts and tools in smaller bite-sized chunks, which work with packed schedules, travel and meeting times. The smaller programs enable people to focus in short intervals, which have proven to embed learning if followed by a coaching program.

As I look at the consulting industry, I see a massive change in how companies and their employees work on key priorities like cost and value improvement and change initiatives. The days where armies of MBAs invade a business, charge high fees for analysis, strategies and programs that companies try to implement are coming to an end. These projects may provide value in the short-term, but are rarely embedded and sustainable in the longer term. Employees generally resist outsiders (consultants) in the business when they take over key categories of expenditure and conduct massive bidding events, usually generating price savings, but often leaving behind damaged supplier relationships. Sometimes the consultants are paid on a percentage of savings, which is usually presented as a means for their services to be self-funded. While management may gain some short-term results, generally the business experiences long-term pain because the consultants have a price focus (since their compensation is savings based) rather than a value-based approach (which is difficult to measure).

One of the reasons I believe there’s a massive change in the consulting industry can be found in article 3 Trends for the Next 50 Years, the Rise of the Idea Economy by James Altucher. One of the notions in this article is that we are moving from corporatism to an employee-free society. There are two reasons for this trend. The first is Pareto principle where 80% of the work is being done by 20% of people, so corporations are downsizing. The second is that regulations are too difficult to follow. The result is a wave of solo entrepreneurs and the attraction of the contingent workforce lifestyle and is why companies like Uber are flourishing. Basically, companies like Uber have the contingent workforce (with their own assets – the cars), logistics software and customers. What’s not to love?

With this in mind, an application of the new approach for the procurement consulting model is to work with cross-functional, cross-business teams on category management. The project typically starts with a four-day workshop with the team that is designed to provide tools, assign roles and accountability, develop the process and define the strategy for the category. The team is then prepared to go forward to gather and analyze the fact-based data, refine the strategy and implement the process and plan. The consultant’s role is to drive the project, check in with the team (remotely) on a weekly or other planned timeline. While the consultant is able to manage project timelines, assist in strategy adjustment and provide additional coaching and tools, the company team drives the project and assures all business needs are met for now and for the future.

The result is a sustainable process and category plan, embedded learning, an empowered team, true value improvement, stronger managed supplier relationships and a sense of satisfaction and ownership. Since the teams are led by an experienced category expert (usually one consultant), the resulting fees for consulting time and travel expense are greatly reduced, results are better and the return on investment is extremely high.

The traditional model for consulting is dead. Strange thing for a consultant to say.

Is it time for a change?


photo: Dikaseva