Maximizing the ROI from Purchasing Skills Training

“Companies don’t invest in training for the education – they invest to get a return”, someone told me that 30 years ago.   This insight, shared with me three decades ago, holds even greater significance today, particularly for purchasing departments. The role of purchasing in determining profitability is unparalleled, placing them at a distinctive position within organizations.   So it makes sense that purchasing leaders excel at getting the most out of the investment when training their teams. 

Below are lessons learned from working with purchasing leaders at over 70 companies in the past 18 months to maximize their return on training investment.  They focus on impacting the intermediate tiers (learning & performance) to ultimately influence the top tier (business gains) of training effectiveness.

Here’s a breakdown of Don Kirkpatrick’s Training Effectiveness Model: 
  1. Reaction – Tells you if the participants enjoyed the training experience 
  2. Learning – The degree to which participants improved their knowledge and skills 
  3. Performance – Measures how well training attendance impacted job performance
  4. Business gains – Evaluate the business outcomes from improvements in job performance
Top Five Actions Purchasing Leaders Take to Maximize the ROI of Buyer Training 
  1. Communicate clear expectations to participants.  Purchasing leaders understand their teams have competing priorities, and take the time – both up-front and throughout the course – to reinforce the high priority of successfully completing the training and applying what they learn to their jobs.   
  1. Coach participants after the training is completed on practical applications of their new skills.   To avoid micromanaging, the best leaders coach through questions – for example, asking direct reports during one-on-ones what new tool or template they will use in their next supplier negotiation. 
  1. Reinforce new skills by having them share with others.  Companies looking for topics for their monthly lunch-and-learns have found that projects resulting from APD training can be nicely structured for this format. 
  1. Track Actionable Results from the newly gained knowledge and skills.  APD trainings focus on specific skills crucial to purchasing performance.  Purchasing leaders report that they find it straightforward to track projects that results from these skills and summarize them for management.  
  1. Participate in the training with their teams.  Purchasing leaders report that the first four points are much easier to implement when they participate in the training themselves.  Plus, they gain the hands-on knowledge of what is taught in the program that they can formalize into their team processes and ongoing performance management practices.

Attend the upcoming webinar on Best Practices for Training Your Purchasing Team

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