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Pretty much every L&D professional has made an expensive mistake at some point in their career. You double and triple check the list of features offered by the learning platforms you’re considering, weigh up any appealing discounts and make your choice… before realising pretty quickly that all the bells and whistles you needed when you signed the contract a few months ago are no longer priorities in your learning programme. So you end up locked into a long-term contract for a platform that fails to meet expectations and deliver the results you need.

When a bad procurement decision is made there are some similarities to the experience of grieving:

  1. Denial

  2. Anger

  3. Bargaining

  4. Depression

  5. Acceptance

Woman typing on laptop

Denial

When you find out that the system you have purchased doesn’t do what you thought it would do, perhaps because you didn’t ask the right questions, your vendor wasn’t completely transparent about the software’s current and future capabilities, or increasingly likely, your circumstances change post-contract signature, then some common responses are:

  • “It will be fine, we can work around that”

  • “We got a good multi-year deal so we can’t have everything”

  • “We don’t really need to support those new business requirements now. We can wait until this contract is up…”

Denying that you have software that is not fit for purpose is detrimental to your organisation’s health. You are likely condemning yourself, your learners and your leadership to several years of frustration and lost opportunities.

Anger

The procurement process, if flawed, can mean expectations between you, the buyer, and the vendors you engage with are mismatched and that you both complete the process thinking you have fully understood the requirements, when in fact there is a chasm remaining. Sometimes the customer can get very angry, blaming the vendor entirely, when in reality it is a shared responsibility.

Equally, internal stakeholders and your learners can get angry if the system rollout is delayed, is too difficult to use or simply does not do what is needed. When business needs change, and the system is not flexible enough to respond, then that anger will come back onto the L&D team.

Bargaining

Both the buyer and the vendor may try to remedy a bad procurement later in the contract, by respectively trying to squeeze free extras/support and increases in the value of the contract. When these have not been flagged and there is not a process of managing these requests this can turn into a time-consuming distraction, that leaves your learners and stakeholders hanging and losing faith in the value of the system they are being asked to engage with.

Depression

Some of you reading this post may recognise this stage all too well. You realise that you are stuck with your current system for what may be a potentially lengthy period of time, with there being no organisational will to address what has become a slow spiral of disengagement, acceptance of over-complicated workarounds (often manual!), fading levels of vendor support and a resulting reduction in the available budget to manage ongoing learning and development needs of your people.

Acceptance

At some point, a ray of hope arrives as you begin to realise that a fresh approach is needed and that you can change your procurement process to greatly improve your technology choices going forward. You are ready to break out of the cycle of remorse that far too many organisations experience again and again.

Front cover procurement guide

If this process looks all too familiar, please rest assured that it doesn’t have to be like this! We know that plenty of organisations struggle with this exact challenge, which is why we have created a guide to successfully procuring learning technology and avoiding buyer’s remorse. You can download the guide here, and we’d love to hear your tips for ensuring you make the right choice.

Download our guide 

Our guide to learning technology procurement will help you avoid buyer's remorse and ensure you find a learning platform that meets your organisation's needs - not just today, but long into the future.

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