There used to be a time, not so long ago, when information was the currency of the business world. Today, however, that currency is skills.
Employees know their skills are valuable and are always looking to develop them professionally. So much so that when looking for a new job, they inquire about a company’s L&D efforts, and when deciding to stay, they seriously consider skills development opportunities.
And companies got the memo. According to a benchmarking study, 66% of L&D professionals say that learning and development is becoming a more strategic part of their organization.
How to choose the best Skills Development platform
Whenever companies need to decide on a solution that must positively impact their performance, there is an overwhelming amount of detail to consider. Here are some actionable steps and tips to find the right skill development platform for your team without costly trial and error.
1. Know your needs
It’s always good to start any complex process with a healthy dose of introspection. To determine your Starting Point A and define your Goal Point B, as well as set up the battle plan on how to get from A to B, you need to answer questions such as:
- What is the company's vision for the next five years?
- How will upskilling and reskilling employees help its trajectory?
- What tools must be part of your arsenal?
- How can these tools bridge knowledge and skills gaps?
- How much time do you need to implement them?
- What’s your budget for this endeavor?
Try to be as thorough as possible in your answers. Consult with as many stakeholders as possible to get both management and employee buy-in, align your goals with their goals (clear ROI and great learning experience, respectively), and start working on your internal marketing campaign to implement the changes.
As you establish your needs, it’s best to separate them into must-haves and nice-to-haves. The former are non-negotiable, so it’ll be easy to sort the wheat from the chaff based on them. The latter will bring all the fun to your search process.
2. Ask the experts
Once you’ve decided on your company's needs and expectations from a skill development solution, it’s time to do some research. Will a learning management system (LMS) tick all your boxes? Or will the great usability features of a learning experience platform (LXP) tip the balance? Maybe another solution can get you the best of both worlds?
Scour the Internet to find experts with the same conundrum and ask for their advice. Go on forums and review sites, on aggregators and providers' websites. Study buyer’s guides from trusted sources. If your budget allows it, book an appointment with one or more industry consultants to help you fine-tune your list of must-haves and nice-to-haves; they can really help put things into new perspectives or confirm your research is on the right track.
The whole point of this step is to narrow down your possible skills development platform providers to three or five. All of them should be strong contenders.
3. Make the most of virtual tours
Once you have a manageable number of solution providers, it’s time to use your magnifying glass. Look at every detail that can make a difference while reshuffling your nice-to-have list. You need to evaluate the features firsthand and ensure that it’s a good fit for your L&D team.
One of the easiest things to do is explore the platform’s virtual tour. Usually, there’s plenty of information to learn from there. Alternatively, you can check their social media to find screenshots or videos of the platform.
Also, you can contact them and ask for a personalized demo, as this is an excellent opportunity to pick on their company culture and other details that can influence your relationship later on. For example, you can ask about their policy on releasing new features and how much their customers' voice weighs on the matter.
Finally, if they offer one, you can sign up for a free trial to click around the platform and get a feel of how it can help your company, but most of all, to allow others to test it as well. Your colleagues, your HR department, and even some employees can tell you a lot after using it for a while. And, if you create a good rapport with a provider’s representative, they can even allow you to test some features that are not usually included in the free trial.
4. Check out pricing options
In the end, it all comes down to money. Maybe one solution checks all your initial must-haves and is within budget but lacks some functionality you want. Or it comes with all the bells and whistles, but you need a budget increase. Or it’s just the one you need for just the right price. Whatever it is, you need to negotiate.
Check out pricing options for all your solution alternatives and speak directly with company representatives. Maybe they can offer you a discount, throw in some extra features, or give you an added bonus, such as course design support. You never know what you’re going to get unless you ask.
At this point, you need to be clear on each solution's costs. Sometimes hidden fees can add up as you use the platforms, so discussing everything in detail is best before signing any contract.
When choosing the right skills development solution for your team, it’s always a question of which fits best your organization’s needs (and budget). From managers to colleagues from different departments to employees and interns, all stakeholders should have a say in the final choice, which needs to stay relevant for the foreseeable future.
Platforms like MATRIX offer a powerful skills development feature that helps you guide your learners to upskill through intelligent content recommendations. Schedule a demo and learn more about how you get get your training to the next level!
This article was originally published in eLearning Industry on August 29, 2022.