Is your procurement training really educating your team or just putting them through a class so someone can check a box and say it’s done?

Over the past three decades, I’ve observed teaching and development efforts at all types of companies and the huge differences that exist in capability enhancement or training. Some companies hire outside consultants who offer extravagant training programs that cost millions of dollars to train and certify hundreds or even thousands of people. Other companies focus on training specific people who are expected to accomplish precise deliverables.

Who’s right? It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.

First, identify the deliverable. If it’s a one-time, complex project that requires a report at its conclusion, I recommend hiring a consultant to complete the work and present the report. Training staff to do a project like that is not necessary or cost effective unless you are convinced that the staff could deliver a report that’s as good, if not better, than one produced by an outside consultant.

If the deliverable is part of procurement’s ongoing effort to add sustainable value to the business for example, a category strategy, negotiation strategy or cost model identify the people who are responsible for it and train them to deliver that value. Companies that have done well in this area have those employees sign an agreement with their respective sponsors that requires the employee to deliver a report or model after the training. And the instructor should include time for the participants to work on the deliverables as part of the training.

After the training is finished, it’s critical to take the next step and invest in coaching to bridge the “knowing-doing” gap. Too many companies believe once a person successfully completes a workshop, he’s ready to deliver, but often that is not the case. However, if you pair training with coaching, you’ll help preserve the knowledge and ensure its sustainability.

Sometimes the simplest examples are the best ones. Watch a father teach his child to ride a bike. First, he demonstrates how to do it. Next, he guides the bike as the child rides it. Then, he lets her ride without any assistance and coaches her efforts. Finally, she’s riding on her own.

If the objective is just to put the most number of people through training, recognise the goal, in this case, is the moral enhancement, not capability enhancement. Focus accordingly on the vehicles that will accomplish that objective most efficiently, such as online classes or self-guided studies.

Make sure the deliverable, not the number of people or available courses, is foremost in your mind as you plan training efforts. It’s far better to train, coach and mentor 50 employees who can deliver results than to put 1,000 through a course just to say you did it

– Jimmy Anklesaria