In recent articles, and in our eBook: Project Management I: Challenges, Opportunities, Methodology, we discussed that project management is at a crossroad due to damages coming from overzealous professional associations, training providers, and individuals. Project management training is one of the areas where the damage is significant and is directly contributing to more damage to the field of project management professional practice.
The various articles under this theme will highlight many cases and from different angles. In this article we present a case study.
One of our clients has been working with us for about 4 years. We provide them with project management training.
Every few months, they give us a contract to train a group of people, usually short engagements; 3 to 10 days. The feedback from the participants and the client’s representative have been great and they are highly satisfied with our service.
Last year, they come to us, recognizing that project management skills are highly important and wanted to have a long term contract to lead learning programs for a large number of team members. Obviously, they came to us since they trusted us and we have always received high praise from them and their employees who attended our workshops. My colleague Luc Bauwmans, has been the SUKAD Principal Consultant leading these sessions.
Because this time the client wanted a multi – years contract and for multiple groups, procurement became involved and refused the single source approach, and would not issue the contract. They stopped the single source approach and asked for bids. Obviously, we were on the bid slate, among many other local providers.
A few weeks later they came back telling us we lost the contract because the other providers are half of our price. Learning and development could not support or justify such a difference. We asked them – for their benefit – not to issue a contract yet. We shared with them our thoughts on the “training business” and the quality of some of the providers. We also gave them a list of things they should look for when selecting a providers; which we published with our last post.
The client came back a few days later, appreciating our feedback, and telling us we were right. They never gave details but apparently rejected the other offers. However, Procurement were still not comfortable and they decided to use our guidelines and open the bidding to other organizations that they would consider would be peers to SUKAD, including internationally.
One more cycle, the bids came, and sure enough, our prices were in line with others (no details provided) except one qualified company was lower than us. We were not not sure the magnitude of the difference. If we did not have an excellent history with this client, this would have been an easy case – our competitor would have won a multi-years contract to deliver training to a large number of professionals. Yet, because of our history with the client, the client representative was able to convince procurement to do something different.
The client decided to have the other company deliver one program for one group, and SUKAD do the same for another group, with the client representatives and procurement monitoring. In this case, the client only committed 2 small contracts instead of the major one – the better performer will get the full contract.
We are happy to say – we signed the contract!
The message, and core lesson from this situation, is that the customer must be first, second and always. We must also understand that customer might not be fully aware of what is available. If we had not worked with the customers and try to raise their awareness about the project management training “business” they could have gone with a low cost provider that might not be qualified, even if they are recognized by a professional association. Even with the second bidding, the client trusted in us to question the alternative.
For SUKAD, by giving the client guidelines on how to select a project management training providers, we were risking the contract but that was an acceptable risk to us; since our focus is the client. If an alternate is better than us – that means an opportunity to learn on how to improve.
At the end – what some clients do not recognize is that the significant cost of a training program is not what they pay the provider; it is the cost of 10, 15, or 20 professionals in a class – that might not meet its business objectives.
This is a true case of win-win-win! SUKAD won, the client won, and their employees are enjoying the classes with Luc!