If you are ready to start development of your elearning course or are looking for off the shelf elearning courses then you might be looking for a new elearning company to work with. You’ve got your project approved, you’ve spoken to the stakeholders within your organisation and you are ready to go! However, how do you select the right supplier to work with?
Procurement rules within your company means that you need to get a number of suppliers to quote for your project. If this is the case you need to think about how you will prepare your elearning proposal.
It is likely that you are busy working on projects and dealing with your day to day work, but investing in preparing a good elearning proposal will lead to good quotes from suppliers. They are likely to be invested in your project and will be more aligned with your requirements. You’ll also, hopefully, get fewer questions from suppliers when you send out your proposal.
Take some time to consider that you are only as good as your suppliers, it makes sense to invest time in your supplier relationship and not just to think that you are holding all the cards by providing a project fee! A good supplier relationship will improve the quality of your projects and should lead to your sharing ideas and you possibly having input into future product development.
1: Create a specification
If you’ve been working on your project for several months then getting approval is often the hardest part. The temptation is to send out an email as soon as you can, but often you don’t have enough detail about the project. This leads to more questions, misunderstandings and a range of prices coming back from suppliers.
Suppliers are used to receiving email requests with limited information, if they are interested in the project they will come back with more questions. If you’ve sent a similar email you’ll be spending time replying to the emails and depending on your procurement rules you’ll also need to send the replies to everyone.
It takes time for suppliers to put together quotes. If you can take some time to put together a specification you’ll save time, receive more accurate quotes and have fewer questions in the responses.
If you are struggling to put together a specification then your project might not be ready to send out for tender or proposals.
Consider spending more time building and reviewing your specification and understanding what the project is. You might think that you are wasting time but you will save time in the long run.
Before you send out your proposal, consider how you are going to evaluate the proposals and whether you can share this information with the suppliers. If you can share what you’re looking for in the proposal it will help suppliers when they put together their proposals and potentially save their time.
A scoring matrix will allow suppliers to review and identify whether they are a suitable supplier for you. It might be that you have specific requirements like cyber essentials or a specific ISO standard, share this information early and it ensures that suppliers who don’t have these accreditation don’t waste time submitting a proposal.
Suppliers will value that you are providing them with the opportunity and insight into whether they want to proceed with the process – they will appreciate the openness.
You might have been to Learning Technologies or World of Learning and come back with a lot of contacts but this does allow you to complete a pre-qualification process. It isn’t helpful to send out your proposal to everyone.
You should have a list of suppliers that you want to send the proposal out to before you start, having an ideal list means that you can manage the feedback.
Before you send the proposal you can also spend some time speaking to some of the suppliers, a quick call can also provide some information and insight about their product and insight that also saves time for you and the supplier.
What does this mean? Your proposal should include details about the specification and what the project solution is but don’t ask potential suppliers to create screens, demonstrations or prototypes as part of the proposals unless you are prepared to pay for them.
The creative industries including learning technologies has a significant issue with companies sending out proposals that ask companies and freelancers to provide free work as part of the proposal. This work is often pitched as being part of the proposal and is rarely paid for – it’s not fair and something we need to move away from.
If you want to see visuals or prototypes then you should be able to pay for this and also include in your proposal a section about copyright/IP transfer to understand who owns any work created.
If you have asked a number of suppliers to provide quotes and proposals it is important that you provide feedback. If you have contacted suppliers for quotes then you should get back to them to let them know the outcome of the process.
It doesn’t reflect well if you don’t get back to people after they have provided you with commercial information like pricing.
If you can provide some detailed information as to why they have not won the project this is really valuable and helpful, everyone is looking to improve. You might find this difficult to provide but it is often really appreciated even if it is a short conversation or email.
If you don’t provide an idea of budget then you’ll get significant price differences in your replies. We’ve seen this on projects that we’ve worked on. There are a number of different companies working at different levels and day rates – you can get a huge difference in replies.
Customers often don’t want to provide a budget as they think this will stop them getting the best price, this often isn’t the case. There are significant advantages about providing the budget:
A supplier can see if they are able to provide a solution within your budget
You’ll receive solutions within your budget range
The solutions will be easier to compare as they will be similar – in theory!
You won’t get price variation and you will be able to compare all the solutions
You should have explained your technology requirements in your specification document but if you are looking for a custom solution take some time to think.
If you are looking for an Immersive VR solution – make is clear and only provide the tender to those suppliers who can provide this level of technology. If your project is to re-version some existing content from existing PowerPoint content and the requirement is quite basic then make this clear. It will help the suppliers and you won’t receive overly complex solutions back.
If you are unsure about how complex your solution is then this article from Articulate on the 4 levels of learning might be helpful.
Let all the suppliers know the outcome of the proposal process. We’ve already covered the importance of providing feedback, it is also important to ensure that you let everyone know the outcome of the proposal process.
You might be busy and sharing the news that a supplier hasn’t been successful might be challenging but try to reach out to suppliers personally. A one line email to let you know you’ve been unsuccessful is never a great way to hear from a potential customer if you’ve been part of a supplier proposal!
Developing a new project, off the shelf course library or custom elearning project should be an exciting time. If you take some time to review your specification and suppliers you can end up with a set of excellent solutions that you can look through.
If you need some help with developing your supplier process are looking for a new off the shelf course library get in touch with us at email@example.com