Procurement and the LMS – Friend or Foe?

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 Hello from down under, Peter the Koala says hi, which is funny because Mr. Cutie pie Koala could rip your arms out and munch on them if he wanted to – so please, please stick your hand a little closer to..

Speaking of which, I know some of you feel the same way, uh the meal err recipient when certain players get involved with the LMS decision making – I’m looking at you Greg (oh, wrong movie reference), I meant I am looking at you Procurement.

Yes, I said it. Procurement.

Why, oh why are these folks allowed to not only have input (committee) let alone for some places, final decision making authority?

I can’t figure it out.  That would be like a realtor telling the person who is building a house, how to build the house.

Look, I have nothing but respect for what procurement folks do on a daily basis, but let me ask you something, how hip would they be, if you Training/L&D person said, “whoa whoa, I need to have input, wait final decision making on your new procurement system or something you need in procurement.”  How would that fly over?  Exactly.

Yet, time and time again, procurement is involved or makes that final decision on a LMS, a learning system for learners no less.

Procurement Factors

I’m just going to put it right out there, then let’s really assess their value at the table.

1. Training experience –  For the amount of say they sometimes have, I guess they must have a lot of experience in the fields of training and/or learning and development.

I mean, they must be well versed in the best methods for training/learning, what makes a successful trainer, how people learn, the Kirkpatrick thing (if you are still a fan of it), and oh, oh ADDIE.  Yep, must be an expert, because otherwise, I’m lost – just as I suspect they would be if you asked them to define ADDIE.

2. Train the Learners –  Clearly, they have done this before. 

Been out in the field training employees or training customers.  I guess when it came time to hire those 3rd party instructors, they must have played a huge role in that.  Yep, they yielded the sword of training authority.

3. Build training and learning.  When you were creating your courses or materials or putting together a training plan, those fine folks at procurement, must have been right by your side. 

What? You do not think we should have a TOC for that course?  Makes perfect sense, let the learners guess where to go.  Geez, thanks Steve   – you really know a lot about training, much more than me.

4. Hiring folks – for those people in HR,  I guess procurement is part of your decision making process when you hire people.  They must be right there with you when going over the HR policies. Benefits? Procurement in the house, everyone!

Procurement Counter Argument

I’m sure procurement is going to say, well it is a large amount of money and thus we need to have a say in the matter. My response – if HR hires an executive at 200K, are you involved with that decision? 

If IT decides to buy a dozen servers (after their budget is approved by whomever), do they have to call you to make that decision for them – and tell them what server company they should by from?  No, they don’t, so what are they doing with the LMS?

The End Result

It is never good.  I’ve known training/L&D folks who have lost or do not have the final decision making say, end up with a system that is not user friendly, not have all the features OR has the features but not the latest.  The selections are rarely about learning/training, rather it is about some other objective. 

When you buy a LMS you should be saying this is about learning/training our employees, our customers or whomever.  It shouldn’t be about the appropriate business process or in alignment with some other this or that.

Yeah, a LMS is part of the business, and if the person or persons overseeing the identification and selections did an appropriate strategy ahead of time including due diligence, then it would have that impact. 

Hence, impact of learning which can tie directly to the values, goals and objectives of the business – real ROI.

When I hear of those 20 page RFPs being blasted all over the place and get to read them, I can already figure out quickly who was involved in the process.  IT (I have my own issues with them – uh, it is SaaS system usually on a server farm, why does it matter what the load balance is?  This is not the same as an ERP),  other departments and good ol procurement.

Bottom Line

Procurement is a tough and often times unloved by those at the company, and I get that.  I get that at times, they can use their own power as an advantage as a line of reason, okay, not really, but hang in there with me folks.

What bothers me the most (and you are saying  – the most?), is that procurement can be that wild card – that person who says, “hey your budget is 45K, but this system is 20K, so let’s get that one.”

And then you  – the training/L&D person is left saying okay and move on.

Here’s the thing though. You can’t move on.

You can’t allow them to have final decision making authority, because when the chips are falling, your learners are complaining, your administrator(s) can’t get a hold of support, the system needs help, that help is not going to be waiting for you in procurement.


Not even close.

E-Learning 24/7

One comment

  1. I couldn’t agree more strongly. I think their role in this comes down to two things, both about setting boundaries:
    1. Are there any vendors we CANNOT consider due to prior issues or information (i.e. policy that we cannot use a vendor who has a pending acquisition or certain financials)?
    2. What are cost parameters/limits (this may come from finance or dept budget)?

    Other than that, they really don’t have any domain expertise to contribute, therefore, they shouldn’t.

    I do think Procurement has disproportionate influence on purchase, but this issue does show at many places in the evaluation process. For example, executives who don’t design training- and hardly ever take it- speaking to features they’d want to see in an LMS. In my experience, the actual users should define this. Executives are more or less consumers of “results data”- so I find their comments helpful to define things like information needs and report functions, not learner UX.

    Yes, we let them chime in, but honestly, every stakeholder role should be strongly aligned to their system role, and where they go “out of alignment” (i.e. executives trying to speak for actual end users), we should weight the contributions accordingly (“thanks for the input, we will certainly *cough* consider this along with the input we got from the end users directly”).

    A lot of stakeholders in the selection process. If folks stay a bit more in their lane, and define requirements for their domain well, it usually results in a better fit than a free for all requirements roundtable.

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