By Kieran King
While every negotiation has its nuances, there are some best practices to apply toward the purchase of cloud-based learning solutions that will alleviate avoidable time delays.
1) Use the supplier’s contracting paper, not your own. The supplier is accustomed to contracting for their software service on a daily basis. They have already spent much effort in outlining the customary terms and conditions that are acceptable to a vast number of organizations representing a wide range of industries. Enforcing your organizations’ contracting paper will inevitably cause many negotiation redlines, hours of legal involvement and it will surely push back your launch date. Even if your organization has a Software as a Service (SaaS) contracting template, they are rarely adequate to capture the intellectual property elements involved with a learning content solution. Also, suppliers recognize that liability protections are a two-way street so it is common for a cloud-based learning partner to have thought out these provisions in its standard terms and conditions. It is also routine for an organization to assume intellectual property liability when they choose to customize the supplier’s material.
2) Get your legal or procurement representatives involved very early in the process. Inform your internal legal and procurement teams of your required implementation date and the commitments you have made to your stakeholders in order to get employees trained by a certain time frame. The typical implementation period for cloud-based learning is 4-6 weeks so work backward from that date and anticipate the negotiation of a new supplier agreement to take two to three months. As you engage your legal and/or procurement representatives, keep things simple. Explain that the learning supplier partner hosts proprietary learning content. Outline the license level you require, the content solutions you need to contract for and the term length.
3) Understand the anatomy of the agreement’s structure. Frequently, cloud-based learning suppliers will establish a Master Licensing Agreement (MLA) and then apply order forms to the MLA that represent the specific solutions under license, the pricing and the contract term beginning and end dates. Since the MLA serves to govern the overall business relationship and legal terminology, it is a good idea to have it reviewed by your legal and/or procurement teams while you conduct your pilot and refine the specific solutions you will license.
4) Avoid unnecessary concerns. Most cloud-based learning suppliers have provisions and protections against storing any data that is considered sensitive. It is typical for their learning transcript tracking to include name and company email address. All other fields are often optional. Most cloud-based learning providers also don’t need complex Service Level Agreements (SLAs) so pushing to institute them within your agreement is likely unnecessary. Keep in mind that learning partners do not constitute a service that will severely impose on your bottom line if your employees cannot access the training for a brief period of time.
5) Track progress within an action plan. Every process benefits from sound and steady project management. Map out the timelines for contract review cycles, determine who should be the point person for any questions that arise, and institute periodic check points to keep things moving. Keep your business stakeholders involved and apprised so that they can explain how the learning solutions will be used by employees if your legal or procurement teams have inquiries along the way. Business-level stakeholder involvement will help maintain the sense of urgency to progress through the legal aspects swiftly.
Download Skillsoft’s ebook, Cloud-Based Learning Solutions, to learn more about how to navigate a purchase decision around learning.
Kieran is Global VP, Loyalty Strategy, Skillsoft. Follow her on Twitter @kieranmking.