What kind of learning works?

As procurement learning professionals, our team at ADR International are often asked by our corporate customers; “what kind of training will work for our team?”

It is a good question. International businesses invest significant resources on attracting and development talent. They want to know what training will yield the best outcome.

At ADR, we find the key to designing and developing a learning program for our corporate clients is to understand from them the learning outcomes required from the training.  Learning outcomes identify what the learner will know and be able to do by the end of a course or program.
 

Well-defined and articulated learning outcomes provide students with a clear purpose to focus their learning efforts and direct the choice of the skills assessment strategies, curriculum and learning modes, styles and communities.

At ADR, we find the key to designing and developing a learning program for our corporate clients is to understand from them the learning outcomes required from the training.  Learning outcomes identify what the learner will know and be able to do by the end of a course or program.  Well-defined and articulated learning outcomes provide students with a clear purpose to focus their learning efforts and direct the choice of the skills assessment strategies, curriculum and learning modes, styles and communities.

We will look at the key decisions involved in choosing the kind of learning that works.
 

1. Skills Assessment Strategy

It is efficient to ensure that the training provided actually matches the learning needs of the procurement team. Therefore, a skills assessment is a useful starting point to identify capability strengths and areas to be developed. The skills assessment may be a simple survey that asks learners about their perceived needs, or a more sophisticated rating. ADR’s Development Needs Analysis (DNA) skills assessment questionnaire using the organization’s own competency framework to build a tailored survey that ensures that skills gaps identified are based on the unique role proficiency level required, rather than a generic version.

Using global skills benchmarks, organizations can then set their own aspirations for where they want both the team and individuals to be in terms of skills strengths in 12 months and beyond.

Once the skills profile has been established (as-is and to-be), a fit-for-purpose curriculum can be designed.

2. Learning modes

Learning modes are the different methods that can be used to engage procurement professionals in the content of the curriculum. Procurement training often encompasses both technical and behavioral competencies which can be accessed through:

  • Instructor-led online learning (e.g. distance-led webinars)
  • Instructor-led classroom learning
  • e-Learning, typically self-paced modules of interactive content
  • Self-directed learning (reading, networking, research)
  • On the job learning (often involving assignments, or coaching from an expert

In a blended learning program, a mixture of all of these modes may be available to the procurement professional depending on their personal development needs. They all have their own merits and challenges, with associated time / cost implications.

A particularly effective way to offer the modes is through a learning academy structure, which offers recognition and / or accreditation to the learner as they progress through a structured program that is suited to their experience level.

3. Learning curriculum

A learning curriculum is a program of study involving different topics or competencies. Procurement teams often have multiple curriculum offerings, depending on the skills profile of the department, or affiliations with procurement and supply institutes.

The learning curriculum may include a variety of different topics and times for learning including pre-and post-course work and formal learning (such as classroom) versus informal learning (such as attending a trade fair).

The best way to establish an appropriate curriculum is to conduct a skills assessment to identify the learning needs of the procurement team. This will highlight strengths and development needs of the learners, enabling each person to have a personalized learning journey that focuses on specific parts of the curriculum that matches their learning needs.

4. Learning styles

A learning curriculum is a program of study involving different topics or competencies. Procurement teams often have multiple curriculum offerings, depending on the skills profile of the department, or affiliations with procurement and supply institutes.

Learning professionals often refer to individuals learning through visual, auditory or kinesthetic (tactile) means. They may refer to different teaching resources including lecture, video, hands-on exercises, games or role play to support these preferences.

Whilst learners may favor one of these means, typically a mix of resources supports most learning.

During instructor-led courses, there is the most opportunity to have a facilitated approach to:

  • Learning by listening
  • Learning by sharing
  • Learning by doing
  • Learning by teaching

However, online resources and social media can support some elements of these. The only challenge to this route is that the content may not be approved by the organization in terms of its content or message.

5. Learning communities

Learning with others is typically under-utilized by international procurement teams. Most professionals spend inadequate time on skills development through brainstorming with colleagues, sharing experiences, and discussing lessons learned. Learning forums such lunch-and-learn sessions or peer to peer reviews can be useful self-directed training.

Procurement leaders are often concerned about the mix of learners in a class. The logistics of running a classroom course may result in a mix of experiences, roles or functions. Typically, that is something to be welcomed, as sticking with one’s own immediate peers and stagnate thinking. Creative and strategic thinking is typically borne of coming together with people with different perspectives.

 

Conclusion

So how does this discussion help to determine what is the right kind of learning for procurement professionals based on defined outcomes?

The reality is there is no single model that will define the “right” route for an individual or team. All of the above considerations are relevant when debating the choices available, as well as the scale and scope of the content to be covered in the learning.

Most importantly, the organizational learning journey should be driven by:

  • the learning outcomes required
  • the expected timescales for change
  • the current skills profile of the team

This will help to set realistic and targeted outcome expectations for the learners themselves. And ultimately, individuals must be supported by being given actions that are required of them – both as part of the learning, and after the learning.

March 23, 2018

As procurement learning professionals, our team at ADR International are often asked by our corporate customers; “what kind of training will work for our team?”

It is a good question. International businesses invest significant resources on attracting and development talent. They want to know what training will yield the best outcome.

At ADR, we find the key to designing and developing a learning program for our corporate clients is to understand from them the learning outcomes required from the training.  Learning outcomes identify what the learner will know and be able to do by the end of a course or program.
 

Well-defined and articulated learning outcomes provide students with a clear purpose to focus their learning efforts and direct the choice of the skills assessment strategies, curriculum and learning modes, styles and communities.

At ADR, we find the key to designing and developing a learning program for our corporate clients is to understand from them the learning outcomes required from the training.  Learning outcomes identify what the learner will know and be able to do by the end of a course or program.  Well-defined and articulated learning outcomes provide students with a clear purpose to focus their learning efforts and direct the choice of the skills assessment strategies, curriculum and learning modes, styles and communities.

We will look at the key decisions involved in choosing the kind of learning that works.
 

1. Skills Assessment Strategy

It is efficient to ensure that the training provided actually matches the learning needs of the procurement team. Therefore, a skills assessment is a useful starting point to identify capability strengths and areas to be developed. The skills assessment may be a simple survey that asks learners about their perceived needs, or a more sophisticated rating. ADR’s Development Needs Analysis (DNA) skills assessment questionnaire using the organization’s own competency framework to build a tailored survey that ensures that skills gaps identified are based on the unique role proficiency level required, rather than a generic version.

Using global skills benchmarks, organizations can then set their own aspirations for where they want both the team and individuals to be in terms of skills strengths in 12 months and beyond.

Once the skills profile has been established (as-is and to-be), a fit-for-purpose curriculum can be designed.

2. Learning modes

Learning modes are the different methods that can be used to engage procurement professionals in the content of the curriculum. Procurement training often encompasses both technical and behavioral competencies which can be accessed through:

  • Instructor-led online learning (e.g. distance-led webinars)
  • Instructor-led classroom learning
  • e-Learning, typically self-paced modules of interactive content
  • Self-directed learning (reading, networking, research)
  • On the job learning (often involving assignments, or coaching from an expert

In a blended learning program, a mixture of all of these modes may be available to the procurement professional depending on their personal development needs. They all have their own merits and challenges, with associated time / cost implications.

A particularly effective way to offer the modes is through a learning academy structure, which offers recognition and / or accreditation to the learner as they progress through a structured program that is suited to their experience level.

3. Learning curriculum

A learning curriculum is a program of study involving different topics or competencies. Procurement teams often have multiple curriculum offerings, depending on the skills profile of the department, or affiliations with procurement and supply institutes.

The learning curriculum may include a variety of different topics and times for learning including pre-and post-course work and formal learning (such as classroom) versus informal learning (such as attending a trade fair).

The best way to establish an appropriate curriculum is to conduct a skills assessment to identify the learning needs of the procurement team. This will highlight strengths and development needs of the learners, enabling each person to have a personalized learning journey that focuses on specific parts of the curriculum that matches their learning needs.

4. Learning styles

A learning curriculum is a program of study involving different topics or competencies. Procurement teams often have multiple curriculum offerings, depending on the skills profile of the department, or affiliations with procurement and supply institutes.

Learning professionals often refer to individuals learning through visual, auditory or kinesthetic (tactile) means. They may refer to different teaching resources including lecture, video, hands-on exercises, games or role play to support these preferences.

Whilst learners may favor one of these means, typically a mix of resources supports most learning.

During instructor-led courses, there is the most opportunity to have a facilitated approach to:

  • Learning by listening
  • Learning by sharing
  • Learning by doing
  • Learning by teaching

However, online resources and social media can support some elements of these. The only challenge to this route is that the content may not be approved by the organization in terms of its content or message.

5. Learning communities

Learning with others is typically under-utilized by international procurement teams. Most professionals spend inadequate time on skills development through brainstorming with colleagues, sharing experiences, and discussing lessons learned. Learning forums such lunch-and-learn sessions or peer to peer reviews can be useful self-directed training.

Procurement leaders are often concerned about the mix of learners in a class. The logistics of running a classroom course may result in a mix of experiences, roles or functions. Typically, that is something to be welcomed, as sticking with one’s own immediate peers and stagnate thinking. Creative and strategic thinking is typically borne of coming together with people with different perspectives.

 

Conclusion

So how does this discussion help to determine what is the right kind of learning for procurement professionals based on defined outcomes?

The reality is there is no single model that will define the “right” route for an individual or team. All of the above considerations are relevant when debating the choices available, as well as the scale and scope of the content to be covered in the learning.

Most importantly, the organizational learning journey should be driven by:

  • the learning outcomes required
  • the expected timescales for change
  • the current skills profile of the team

This will help to set realistic and targeted outcome expectations for the learners themselves. And ultimately, individuals must be supported by being given actions that are required of them – both as part of the learning, and after the learning.