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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Service Providers - How Do You Find Good Ones

Within a few hours of each other, I received two requests for referral to service providers. One request was for eLearning development providers from fairly large 5,000+ employees based in the US.
We've looked at a few eLearning vendors and haven’t been thrilled. We found the three US vendors expensive and/or light on good ID and the India-based vendors (Tata and Brainvisa) are priced really well, but would require more extensive project, quality and ID management. So the 50K question is do you have any really high quality referrals – that might also be able to come in at reasonable prices and would be able to to turn a 2 or 3-hour ILT into a simple yet sophisticated CBT all the way up to eventual simulations and online custom leadership content?
Likely they would want to have a provider who is fairly local, but not sure about it. They are fairly new to eLearning design and development.

The other request is for providers of new-hire orientation outsourcing companies:
My boss wants me to look up the three (or so) best-in-industry new-hire orientation outsourcing companies. Does anyone have experience in this area to help me out, or at least direct me where to search? That would be MUCH appreciated!
I have a few thoughts on where you might go to search for this, but I would be curious how people who read this blog would go about finding service providers for themselves, or how they would advise these two people to go about it?

For thoughts about this, but from the service providers perspective (especially service professionals such as accountants, attorneys, consultants, etc.) take a look at Social Media for Service Professionals and Social Media to Build Reputation and Reach Prospects – More Ideas.

14 comments:

Harold Jarche said...

I would check my network through some combination of skype, twitter, linked-In, facebook or a blog post. I would specifically be asking for first-hand knowledge of possible service providers.

Richard Beaumont said...

My website, the e-learning list, is an admittedly fledgling attempt to create one solution to this issue. Though currently UK centred, it aims to list as many e-learning suppliers as possible, and encourages the use of customer ratings and comments to help visitors make more rational choices.

As more suppliers get listed and more people post - the more valuable this can become.

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Wendy said...

Very timely post Dr. Karrer, because I am just now starting to look at serious gaming consultants for my university.

I've been taking Harold's advice. Digging through my back posts (especially from the conferences), folks I've run into over the past couple of years, other people's blogs, that sort of thing. Getting a feel for what is out there while we get project scope.

V Yonkers said...

I think I'd start by looking at what some of my colleagues are doing in e-learning. Also, as Wendy mentioned, I would start creating a scope of work to figure out what features, quality, etc... I want. Do I want to direct what the final learning object will look like (thus really looking at someone to do the technical piece) or at the other spectrum, do I want the contractor to work with me and come up with a learning solution that might look totally different than what I originally envisioned?

I think I would then go do some searches for training that is on the web that meet my criteria. I would identify some suppliers that create the type of learning solutions I am interested in. In my mind, if they are developing, they should have an online portfolio.

Then I would ask professional groups (i.e. linkedIn, industry organizations, other groups I belonged to) about the reliability and work style of the supplier. I might then contact them directly for a proposal. The other option is to find out the organizations that they may be members of and go there to solicit RFP's.

One observation to this scenario, however. This reminds me of when I worked in International Business consulting. Companies will need to pay for a high quality product. If a company has limited funding, one option is to take a chance on someone starting out. However, don't expect to get quality at slave labor prices. A good quality product brought in on time that can be used for a long time will more than pay for itself, whereas garbage is garbage, no matter how much you paid for it.

Jennifer De Vries said...

I am an e-learning provider and I've had many people ask me that question over the years. I recently wrote an article about it. You can find it on the Tools and Resources tab of our Web site. http://www.bluestreaklearning.com. Please feel free to contact us about your e-learning needs. We have masters level IDs and experienced learning technologies experts on staff. And if we're not the right firm for your project, we can refer you to one of our partners.

XicanoWan said...

this is eerily in-line with what i have been tasked to do for my client. Looking to ditch the eLearning module, and looking for more of a simulation, gamey(sp?)look, feel, and level of interaction. If someone has any ideas on vendors, or are a vendor yourself who want to chat, please shoot me a tweet.

Twitter: XicanoWan

Harold Jarche said...

For serious gaming, I'd contact either Mark Oehlert or Clark Quinn.

LetsEatLunch said...

unfortaintly some people are blocked in by only one or two chjoices os service providers like me.

Connie said...

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Pontoon said...

We gave up on trying to work with outside vendors, and instead went in the direction of looking for tools that were simple enough to make ad-hoc developers out of SMEs.

The rapid elearning tool landscape has changed alot recently. We considered Captivate, Camtasia, and Ignite 4. We ultimately settled on Ignite 4, as it seems a good marriage of the other two. Enough sophistication, but the feature set is not too overwhelming.

In any case, we're glad we went down this path. We have so much more control over the process, and dealing with outsourced vendors has become a thing of the past.

We still need help now and then, but it's good to have it mostly out of my budget.

Dipak Mawale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dipak Mawale said...

Hi Dr. Karrer, first I would figure out what’s my requirements are (e.g. Sales Training, Game base learning, Serious Games etc) based on this I will try to search for vendors through Google search or some elearning conference websites. CLO Magazine provides a good list of elearning vendors as per particular training needs. I will finally send them the RFP or contact them to know their offerings best. I am not completely agree with posting questions to recommend someone on community sites because that may lead to unfair responses. Or the another option is to outsource that task to consulting firms to search for the required vendor however only big firms can afford to outsource such activities.

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