Should you stay with your current Title IX compliance training vendor?
Or is it time to switch?
It’s a question hundreds of campuses will face during the ‘19-20 academic year. For some, this is an easy question, but for many it’s fraught with complexity.
To help your institution navigate this question, we’ve compiled a short list of 5 common reasons institutions make the switch, and 3 common reasons they stay.
The following is based on our experience having helped over 1,000 campuses on-board and off-board from the leading Title IX compliance training vendors. Questions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
5 Reasons to Switch
Because You Can.
The pain of switching off of multi-user software solutions like Canvas and Banner is very real. If you’ve done it or tried, you probably have stories about it. Yikes.
In contrast, your Title IX compliance training solution is relatively easy to switch. Despite its incredible reach across campus, it has very few (often 1 or 2) administrators and typically doesn’t contain complex technology integrations or wide-scale content configurations.
While there are always switching pains relating to new vendor onboarding, it typically takes weeks (not months) to get a new Title IX training solution up and running. Of course, the evaluation and buying process itself is still painful to navigate-- but technologically speaking, we shouldn’t think of Title IX compliance training as a 10+ year investment like we do with more integrated higher ed software.
Ah, economics 101. It’s not a coincidence that the consolidation of Title IX training vendors was immediately followed by skyrocketing prices. It’s a natural cycle of a new market.
Author note: Title IX training as an industry is only ~5 years old.
This next phase will be a big test for Higher Ed. If institutions switch vendors (and push back against the consolidation), prices will normalize. If institutions stay, the leading vendors will have won the pricing battle and prices will remain high. If you’re curious about how this works at scale across industries, see Warren Buffet example.
Given general price sensitivity in Higher Ed, our prediction is that institutions will test vendor alternatives and prices will normalize. After all, switching isn’t that hard to begin with (see Because You Can).
When you commit to a vendor, you’re often basing the decision on a specific course or set of scenarios. What happens when those become outdated or simply played out?
Content design and quality is a huge driver in selecting a Title IX compliance training vendor. But while prevention and compliance best practices may not change dramatically year-over-year, the most representative language and visual scenarios we use to educate on important topics like bystander intervention and alyship do change rapidly.
It’s hard for your existing vendor to keep pace with this change. It doesn’t make them a bad vendor or partner per se, but it does highlight the importance of keeping your eyes open for new training content that meets your unique needs.
That said, it’s always worth comparing the product and course roadmap of your current vendor against other vendors. And not just what courses they are building, but the approach they are taking. Ask for screenshots and samples. If you’re going to forego switching vendors, make sure you’re making an informed decision about what’s coming next.
Author Note: This is one of the hardest parts about long-term vendor selection for Title IX training. It’s like making a commitment to replace your current cell phone with whatever Apple comes out with in three years. That could work out-- and you could love it. But your better option would be to wait three years and evaluate your options then.
Has your relationship with your vendor changed over the past two years? It probably has.
Part of this is natural with all vendor relationships (unfortunately), but this is also a specific downside of vendor consolidation. Vendors tend to listen most when they are small and/or when you are a new customer. A diverse option pool of training vendors increases accountability and reduces apathy.
Nothing gets a software CEO to listen to the needs of a Title IX coordinator on a Sunday night like your decision to go with a new vendor. This is a healthy part of the process. It’s not about punishing a vendor for failing to meet your needs, but it’s about proactively finding a vendor who meets your needs today-- and thereby raising the bar for all vendors to get better to earn your business in the future.
When was the last time your campus evaluated your Title IX training options? Who was involved in that process? How many of the people now closest to the vendor and/or content were involved in its selection?
In the fluid and often decentralized environment that is Higher Education, it’s quite normal for key stakeholders to change. The downside, as it relates to something like prevention programs, is that it may not be the solution your new stakeholders would have selected. It also may be the single most widely adopted part of their annual prevention education campaign.
Empowering your team to evaluate and influence the selection of a new vendor is a great way to increase engagement and empower ownership over your prevention and compliance programming campus wide.
3 Reasons to Stay
Heavily Customized Content.
If your vendor has designed custom training content for your institution, you may find yourself unable to change vendors without losing licensing rights to that tailored content. We’re not talking about small course modifications-- but ground-up video or motion graphic design specifically for your institution.
Similarly, if your campus requires specific and unique scenario types that are accommodated by your existing vendor, you may have fewer alternative vendor options available to your campus. That said, most vendors do provide multiple versions of primary courses to address this need.
See the complete Title IX compliance training vendor guide for specifics. Download here.
While not common, some campuses have deep or complex integrations with internal software that makes switching a more complicated process. Learning Management System integrations tend NOT to fall into the complex category. But some Banner, HRIS and Salesforce integrations can be quite difficult to configure.
The best approach here is to determine whether your prospective vendor is capable of owning the re-integration on their own (and cost), or if it will require your IT department to own it. Depending on your access to these internal IT resources, switching vendors and successfully integrating may be a bigger mountain than you’re prepared to climb.
Ah, yes. Apathy and inertia are incredible things. “But aren’t we already in compliance? So why change?”.
For something like Title IX compliance training that comes with an annual requirement, your campus may be more focused on maintaining status-quo than burning cycles on new vendor selection.
In this case, the mere act of trying to switch may be a political landmine. And while we don’t advocate for this approach to sexual violence prevention training, we appreciate that this is a reason many campuses decide to stay where they are.