Navigating the ever-shifting demand for training requires Learning and Development (L&D) teams to be adaptable and resourceful. However, the staffing challenges associated with varying needs for instructor-led training (ILT) can be a persistent problem. A key strategy for efficiently managing capacity involves having a reliable team of outsourced trainers ready to augment the L&D team.
This was the main topic of our webinar in partnership with Avanade, ‘Best Practices for Managing Training Delivery Unpredictability,’ where industry experts Jonyce Ruiz, Learning Business Partner at Avanade, Clinton Wingrove, Principal Consultant at Clinton HR Ltd, and Phoebe Richards, Director of Learning Talent Delivery at Infopro Learning, shared valuable insights and real-life success stories.
This blog summarizes some of the questions asked during the session and the experts’ responses.
Question 1: What factors influenced your decision to outsource learning delivery talent for Avanade and specific programs?
A few years ago, just before the pandemic hit in 2019, I took charge of professional skills, primarily focusing on our consulting excellence curriculum—the backbone of essential consulting skills for our team. The pandemic forced an abrupt shift to virtual sessions as we geared up for in-person training. Despite initial success, the surge in demand for virtual services during the pandemic made it challenging to conduct classes due to staff unavailability.
Our traditional training approach became impractical with the constant onboarding of new employees. To address this, I decided to enlist external instructors with both consultancy expertise and teaching skills for scalability. The turning point was collaborating with Infopro Learning, resulting in a successful pilot in North America with over 1,000 participants. Subsequent years saw continued expansion, and we aim to reach around 2,200 participants globally this year. The driving force behind these efforts is the desire to make this training accessible to a global audience within our organization, addressing the challenges posed by the evolving work environment and ensuring that our employees are equipped with essential consulting skills on a large scale.
I exclusively collaborate with Infopro Learning as an associate for a compelling reason. Unlike trainers who merely read off slides, Infopro Learning prioritizes a collaborative approach with facilitators, delving into context and cultural understanding. In my discussions with Jonyce, we explored the essence of Avanade. When delivering sessions with her teams, I naturally incorporate terms like “what we have,” emphasizing upskilling and inspiring rather than providing a generic resource. This personalized approach is what initially attracted me to Infopro Learning. Working with them means more than just following a slide deck—it’s about genuine passion for the content. I only take on assignments where I can excel, ensuring that I understand the material and convey a sincere belief in what I’m teaching.
Question 2: Can you share insights into your challenges while expanding your global reach and how the shift to virtual delivery and partnerships—such as collaborating with a contracting company like Infopro Learning—has contributed to overcoming these challenges and fostering success?
So, this is where we initially began with in-person, instructor-led training. Originally, the main points of contact for the courses would travel to different regions—Asia-Pacific, Europe, and across North America—to train-the-trainers, who would then teach in person. However, this approach became impractical for us. We experimented with virtual train-the-trainer sessions, allowing trainers to teach the class in the native languages of our non-native English-speaking learners and saying that five times fast became a bit of a challenge. Despite our efforts in virtual train-the-trainer sessions, my colleagues and I found that there was still a struggle in absorption due to the language barrier.
One significant challenge we faced was ensuring equitable access to the course for consistency in training. We wanted to ensure that our colleagues in Japan or Brazil received the same quality instruction and content we had put together.
This year, collaborating with Infopro Learning, we expanded our efforts by bringing in multilingual instructors. We now have one fluent in English, French, and Italian—a triple threat. She has become a favorite among our team. Having someone proficient in these languages, understanding the context, and excelling in English is crucial. This is particularly evident during activities like role plays, where acting in a non-native language can be challenging. Learning in a language that isn’t your native one is tough enough; acting in it is an added layer of complexity that we’re addressing.
Question 3: Can you elaborate on your role in consulting with our clients on the localization of courses? Specifically, how do you, as a consultant, collaborate with our design team, leadership, and organizational development team to provide expertise in certain industries and approaches?
Certainly, despite having spent 12 years in the US and being born and raised in the UK, I still face challenges with English and spelling. However, a crucial aspect that I appreciate within the field of Infopro Learning professionals is the insistence on facilitators truly grasping the content they deliver. This ensures that all of us are experts in the subjects we present. Consequently, clients like Jonyce can trust that they receive up-to-date and reliable information.
Moreover, we are mindful of the shift from face-to-face interactions to virtual environments. The rapid transition during the COVID-19 pandemic led many to believe they were instant virtual experts. As the CEO of a software house since 1997, I have worked with virtual platforms long before the widespread use of tools like GoTo Meeting. Research indicates that maintaining audience engagement and enabling them to retain information in a virtual setting fundamentally differs from face-to-face interactions.
Our unique contribution lies in understanding this distinction. We ponder questions like: How do we capture and retain attention in a virtual setting? How do we ensure that participants still recall the covered material days later? This sets us apart, and collaborating with Jonyce and her team on navigating this busy virtual landscape with our associates has been a rewarding experience.
Question 4: How has the rapid adoption of technology for virtual learning impacted your experience as either an instructional designer or a facilitator, and what challenges and exciting developments have you observed in making training engaging in this digital landscape over the past year?
When selecting an outsourced vendor, such as Infopro Learning and others available , choosing an organization with a deep understanding of technology becomes crucial. There has been a significant trend of using tools simply because they are available and fun, and while learning should be enjoyable, it should not solely revolve around entertainment. Many outsourcing companies utilize tools without clearly understanding why they are doing so. I prefer to limit my choices to Infopro Learning because they use tools to demonstrate added value with a clear purpose. Infopro Learning and Avanade step in when technical backup is required, allowing facilitators to concentrate on their role without getting sidetracked by gadgetry.
Embracing technology is essential, and as someone who was once the CEO of a software house, I support its use for its intended purposes. It’s crucial to leverage technology for what it excels at, avoiding distractions. Unfortunately, many outsourcing providers often incorporate flashy objects without considering their true purpose. As exemplified by Jonyce, the primary goal is to enhance the quality of consultants, ensuring they leave as better consultants with a smile rather than merely introducing attractive but distracting elements.
As Clinton pointed out, it tends to become monotonous in the virtual realm, especially in consulting and communication. It revolves around the basics and can feel repetitive and dull. Having a facilitator with the right skill set is essential. Phoebe highlighted the importance of extracting knowledge from the group while fostering conversations and active engagement. Relying solely on someone delivering content from slides or their own knowledge misses the opportunity to tap into participants’ insights.
A notable observation is that many participants already possess valuable knowledge; the challenge lies in contextualizing it for consulting and client interaction. Those subtle stories and nuances contribute to building confidence for participants transitioning into consulting roles post-training.
This skill set is not universal among internal instructors, who, being technologists or consultants, may lack the facilitation knowledge and practice. It’s akin to finding a unicorn – a rare gem. While there might be one or two with these combined skills, they are typically assigned to projects, and searching for such individuals is quite challenging.
During the webinar, the panelists also discussed the topic, success criteria and outcomes, offerings by Avanade, Clinton HR Ltd. and other related topics. To get detailed insights into the ‘Best Practices for Managing Training Delivery Unpredictability,’ watch the webinar replay here.
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