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Professional Partner Content

Preparing to Work with a Content Development Vendor

Published Thu May 30 2019


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Partnering with a content development vendor is a great way to boost your team’s expertise in creating cutting-edge training.

Of course, there are inherent challenges in this type of collaboration. Your development processes may have to adapt to include your new partners and it may take some time on both sides to grow into a shared sense of purpose—but it’s worth getting the relationship started on the right foot. A strong kickoff can have a big impact later on in the project in terms of meeting timelines, delivering innovative training solutions, and impacting learner behavior.

Let’s consider a few ideas on how to set up a successful collaboration with your vendor.

Understand Your Role

To minimize frustration, your team should begin with a clear understanding of what they will contribute to the project and what the vendor brings to the table.

The specifics of this exchange should be negotiated with the vendor to better take advantage of each team’s expertise, but, as a general matter, your team will be the subject matter experts (SMEs). The content development team will have a lot to learn from you, but even if this is their first introduction to the topic, these novice outsiders will be the most capable, interested learners you’ve ever had. They will take detailed notes, ask questions, and pursue research on side topics. They will hang on your every word.

And to everything they learn about you and your project they will add their own experience and skill, adapting this information for a compelling, interactive, and impacting presentation.

Enlist the Right Support

As you assemble your own project team, think about the specific involvement for each individual. There will be certain periods in the process when your content development partners will need focused consultation with your experts, and you must be prepared to meet this need.

This time commitment will likely be limited to a small group. While there may be any number of stakeholders who need to weigh in on the training design, a sufficiently fleshed-out team can be organized to limit their input to one or two key decision points without creating unnecessary bottlenecks throughout the project.

Know Your Objectives

A good content development provider will work with you on articulating clear training objectives, but you should enter the conversation with some idea of what behaviors you hope to encourage or improve in your learners. The more concretely you can describe the intended impact of the training, the more effectively the content development team can focus on high-priority learning activities while dedicating less stage time to topics that don’t contribute to the intended outcomes.

Gather the Content

Be prepared to share any information you have on the training topic. When your content development partners have full access to existing policy documents and training materials, they are better positioned to identify gaps and recognize opportunities to collect missing information from other sources. The more complete the initial content is, the less burdened your team will be with explaining every detail to their content development partners.

Commit to the Partnership

Your content development partners are here to help you. Be clear about your needs and availability and they will strive to work within your culture and program. Throughout the development process, speak openly about your ideal schedule, milestones, and outcomes. Like any relationship, the likelihood of success increases with trust and communication.

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