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Selecting an e-learning solution, part 1
who should be on your e-learning selection committee?

By Karl M. Kapp / October 2004

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Typically, the first step in finding a viable e-learning solution is to create a committee of representatives from various parts of the organization to determine the organization's needs. From this list of needs, the selection committee writes a Request for Proposal (RFP), evaluates vendor-submitted proposals, and eventually selects an appropriate solution. This article discusses the first step in the process: selecting the members of the e-learning committee. The article explains who should be on the e-learning committee and the role they should play.

Having the correct members on your e-learning selection committee is of paramount importance. E-learning solutions can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and impact every aspect of organizational learning for years. The pressure to make the correct decision is intense. Additionally, e-learning solutions consist of many consideration: technical, pedagogical, administrative, and financial just to name a few. Because of the impact and complexity of choosing an enterprise-wide learning solution, it is best to choose the selection committee carefully.

Team Members

While each organization is different in terms of needs and requirements, a common core of individuals needs to be on the committee to achieve RFP and e-learning selection success. The following individuals and departments should be represented:

  • Training/Learning Manager or Director (Chief Learning Officer)
  • Information Technology
  • Procurement
  • Learners
  • Line Supervisors
  • Business Unit Leaders
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Customer Service
  • Safety/Compliance

Training/Learning Manager or Director (Chief Learning Officer)

Whoever is responsible for organizational learning needs to be leading the e-learning selection process. This may sound simple but in some organizations the selection process is lead by IT, safety/compliance people or even a business-unit leader. While each of these people are critical to the success of the team, the focus of an e-learning implementation needs to be on learning and needs to be at a corporate level, not just a divisional or unit level.

It has been my experience that the person leading the team provides the primary direction. So if an IT person is responsible for the project, the focus of the project tends to be on the technology and not the learning. If the quality person leads the process, the focus tends to be on finding courses that focus on quality while other needs, such as technological and soft skills, may be ignored. The person responsible for organizational learning needs to run the e-learning selection process.

Information Technology

While a representative from the IT department should not be the selection team leader, they need to be on board for the selection process. Technology plays a pivotal role in any e-learning solution. The IT representative can set parameters to guide the writing of the RFP. This IT rep can also evaluate, from a technological standpoint, the feasibility of pursuing certain options. They can tell you the type of browser or browsers used throughout the organization, the types of servers available, bandwidth considerations, firewall obstacles and myriad other technical issues that must be addressed when selecting an e-learning solution. Also, don't forget all of the IT professionals. In some large organizations the IT department is highly specialized. One person is responsible for network security and another for internal applications. Make sure you are speaking to all the IT folks who could be involved.


Chances are the procurement folks have written RFPs before. They are usually familiar with legal considerations, the bidding process and other issues revolving around the purchasing of a large enterprise-wide software solution. These people have probably dealt with software vendors before, and can add insights and shortcuts to the process while keeping it all legal and ethical. I can't tell you how many e-learning selection processes stalled because procurement was not consulted early in the process. Get the procurement people involved so you can have smooth sailing all the way through the selection process.


No one likes it when a new system is dropped down on them from above. To help avoid some anxiety over a newly imposed learning methodology, include key learners in the selection process. If you choose the right people who are well connected within the organization, they will champion the e-learning. The learners need to know that they had input into the selection of the system. You also need to know if the system has any major problems that might have been overlooked by management personnel because they do not need the learning on a regular basis. For example, it would be great if learners had the chance to test out of standard, mandated training by taking a pre-test to verify their knowledge of required rules and regulations rather than sit through a two hour on-line lesson each year. Learners are the ones most impacted by the e-learning make sure they have a presence on the selection committee.

Line Supervisors

While the learners need to use the e-learning system on a regular basis, it is the line supervisors who must allocate time for their direct reports to participate in the training. These people need to understand how the system operates and how to review reports and other critical employee information. You need to get the input and requirements of line supervisors in terms of what types of information they need reported from the e-learning system.

Business Unit Leaders

These people have many different titles but, basically, they are responsible for running a certain segment of the business. These people have bottom-line reporting responsibility and are usually concerned with the Return-On-Investment of the proposed e-learning. They are also usually concerned with the business issues driving the selection of the e-learning solution. Include these individuals for their understanding of the business needs of the organization and for their insight into the business needs of the e-learning system.

Sales and Marketing

Initially, it might not seem to make sense that these individuals should be included on the selection team, however, sales and marketing are large beneficiaries of an e-learning implementation. Sales forces are typically spread out geographically and have little time for classroom instruction at headquarters. These people can benefit greatly from e-learning. Since they may be the prime users of the e-learning, make sure their needs and concerns are addressed. Do they need to log into the e-learning, down load a module, complete the module and upload the results? Can they be online for four hours to complete the required training? Would they prefer mini-lessons that can be taken just before visiting a client? Also, the marketing department may have requirements in terms of a "corporate look" make sure any templates or anything you choose to incorporate in your final solution are presented to the corporate marketing folks. Include these people on your RFP team or at least bring them in for consultation prior to final selection.

Customer Service

Why include these representatives on your team? Because someday you may offer your e-learning to customers. A large, growing trend is to educate clients on various topics as a value-add. This can be done on a variety of products from medicine to cooking appliances to books. You want to involve people within our organization who are close to the customer and who understand the needs and wants of the customer. If you really want to think out of the box...include a customer or two on your selection team. This is especially true if you are involved in a closely knit supply chain relationship and will be sharing courses with your customers.


E-learning is perfect for compliance-training programs that must be taken again and again and tracked to ensure everyone is properly educated. The compliance folks know what needs to be taught and can quickly evaluate a vendor's library to make sure it has the correct topics and materials to meet their needs. They can also make sure that the e-learning software itself is compliant with any regulations.

Selecting the appropriate e-learning solution requires an eclectic team who can work well together to fashion an effective RFP and evaluate the vendors' demonstrations. By carefully considering all of these people for your selection team, you will help to ensure a fair, comprehensive selection process that will meet the needs of the entire organization.


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