In this episode of Excellence in Training, Shawn Rogers provides some of this thoughts on working with training vendors. Shawn adds this disclaimer-As a company, GM uses many training vendors. Our compliance function primarily uses two vendors. He has worked with other good vendors that currently do not work with GM. He is not promoting any specific vendors, nor is he disparaging any specific vendors in this podcast. And, of course, these opinions are Shawn’s alone and opinions that  developed over almost 15 years. He is not speaking on behalf of GM in any way.

Highlights include:

What advantages have you found to working with compliance training vendors?

An external compliance training vendor provides several advantages:

  • They have experts that ensure the training they provide is instructionally sound;
  • They have subject matter experts that keep their training content updated to be applicable to changes in laws and regulations;
  • They usually have a really good library of courses that cover most key compliance risks;
  • Their content is visually appealing and professional; and
  • They can assist with managing training campaigns and translations.

When you are selecting a compliance training vendor, what do you look for?

Mostly, I look for a vendor that can be a strategic partner with me in my program. I’m looking beyond the vendor’s library of courses, beyond their ability to host courses, and beyond their ability to develop instructionally sound content. I’m looking for a partner — even an extension of my team — that will help me stay current with new designs, new approaches, and the best thinking in the compliance training industry.

I want a vendor that brings forward-thinking to the table. One that will consult with me and help me innovate and continually improve the program. I think that innovation and continual improvement is absolutely vital for a best-in-class training program.

So, what could vendors do better?

The two key questions that regulators will when assessing the effectiveness of a compliance training program are: (1) Is the program risk based? And (2) is the program tailored to the company’s specific situation?

So, here’s a rhetorical question. Can a compliance training program be both tailored and risk-based if it only uses off-the-shelf content from a training vendor?

However, if you really want a best-in-class program, your courses absolutely MUST be customized to your company’s core business, risk profile, and culture. This means that the vendor needs to give you the capability to do the following:

  1. Provide courses that meet your company’s branding guidelines in terms of logos and colors.
  2. Use photos that are relevant to your industry, or photos that come from your company’s photo library.
  3. Support using introductory videos from your company leaders.
  4. Let you customize the scenarios and knowledge checks so they match situations that could actually occur at your company. (For example, no scenarios about health care in a training deployed to an automotive manufacturer.)
  5. Let you add custom content and reword pages to match your company’s Code and Policy.

And, when necessary, the vendor needs to support me in developing totally customized courses that are specific to my company’s risks. For example, there is no way that a vendor could pull a vehicle safety course from their course library and have it be applicable to GM’s situation. But I need a vehicle safety course for my compliance training program.

And, I have to add, they need to be able to build these customization capabilities into the contract without costing an arm and a leg, and without nickel-and-diming me for every change I want to make.

Anything Else? 

One more thing. I would like my vendor to be committed to what I call “progressive learning.” This means that the vendor helps me work year-over-year to update the courses to keep advancing the learner’s knowledge. For example, if I have a five-year contract with my vendor, I don’t want five different courses on anti-corruption just in a different format with different scenarios. I want five courses that lead the learner on a five-year journey in better understanding and implementing anti-corruption best practices in their everyday work.

Sometimes I feel like the compliance profession is “stuck on stupid” when it comes to compliance training. There is this fear or mindset that if we don’t keep repeating the same courses year after year, with the same learning objectives, then we will get in trouble with the regulators or somehow found to be deficient. But what other profession does that? I’m really grateful that the Texas State Bar doesn’t make me retake Civil Procedure every single year to maintain my law license.

Bottom line, I want my vendors to have the same vision I do – to continually push my learners to a greater understanding of the concepts and principles that are critical to mitigating compliance risk at my company.