Successful training managers have discovered that assessments are an effective way to create personalized learning. When the participants receive their unique assessment results in a training session, they can learn and understand how their behavioral preferences, skills or competencies directly impact how to create the most effective and personalized development plans.

However, there are so many assessment options that choosing the right one for your training program can be overwhelming. Here are things to consider when evaluating which assessment to select to make learning engaging, effective and personalized for every learner.

1. What Do You Need To Assess?

Start by identifying what you need to assess to make a direct link to the desired learning outcomes. For example, if the goal is to improve leadership effectiveness, make sure the assessment is designed to measure leadership behaviors and/or competencies. If the aim is to improve specific sales competencies, it is important the assessment identifies the current competence level of those sales skills.

2. Validation

Next, it is critical to select an assessment that is scientifically validated. Using unvalidated assessments will produce unreliable results that may harm the participants and/or the organization.

Ask the assessment provider for their validation study. Take some time to review it, as some “validation studies” do not meet the necessary standards. Also, make sure the validation has been performed not only in English, but in the native languages of your participants. For results to be valid, everyone needs to able to complete the questionnaire in their native language. This has become increasingly important as workforces become more diverse and global.

Here are important questions to ask. In what languages are the assessments validated? When was the last re-validation performed? What was the sample size?

3. Off-the-shelf Assessments vs. Tailored Assessment

Your goal is to make learning more personalized, not one-size-fits-all. Does the assessment align with this goal? Look for a provider that can tailor assessments to your unique needs and does not force you to select from a few off-the-shelf options. Simply ask: Can I tailor the assessments?

4. Can the Assessment Provider Support Your Other Goals?

Dealing with multiple assessment providers for different applications is time-consuming, frustrating and expensive. Look for assessments that are on one integrated platform providing for your different — present and future — assessment needs. This will not only ensure the participants will experience personalized learning, but will also make life easier as you will not have to deal with different providers and assessment platforms.

As a result, you and your colleagues will have one assessment platform to manage your wide range of assessment needs without having to use different assessments and systems that do not integrate. Finally, you will be able to get help from familiar client support employees who know you and are familiar with your goals.

5. Can the Data Also Be Used at a Team and Organizational Level?

Be proactive and consider how you may want to use the assessment results beyond a specific training application. Can you use the assessment data to help your organization to achieve its strategic goals?

Some assessment providers are able to aggregate the data for teams, departments, business units, and even the entire organization. This information can be extremely valuable in organizational development and for analysis of trends, insights and problems such as employee retention, succession planning and recruiting the right talent.

6. Gender Inclusivity

Make sure the assessments are available in gender-inclusive language that does not discriminate against a particular sex or gender identity and does not perpetuate gender stereotypes. You do not want to alienate any of your learners. Ask: Are assessments available in gender-inclusive language?

7. Facilitator Assistance and Support Materials

Evaluate what type of facilitator and client support an assessment provider offers. Find out if you will be dealing with a reseller of assessments or the actual assessment provider that has dedicated support teams to ensure your success. Remember to ask if the support is included or if there are additional costs involved.

In case you prefer to obtain train-the-trainer training or certification to use the assessments, inquire what your options are and if they qualify for recertification credits toward your professional recertification.

Finally, do not forget to ask about the support materials. They will you save you significant preparation time. Find out if they are included or involve additional cost.

8. Data Security

It is imperative that the assessment provider can protect your employees’ data from unauthorized access.

Always ask for the latest data audit to verify that the vendor is in full compliance and up-to-date with data security and privacy laws and regulations. If the provider is in compliance, they are easily able to provide documentation demonstrating it. Do not rely on verbal assurances alone.

9. Costs

Price is almost always an important consideration. Find out what your pricing options are and if there are extra costs to create additional assessments such as team and organizational reports that you may want to use later.

Inquire if there are any other fees involved; some providers can let you choose a pricing model to fit your situation. Finally, if you work for a non-profit or government agency, ask whether or not you qualify for lower pricing.

10. Assessment Company

Finally, evaluate the track records of the potential assessment providers. What is their reputation, how long have they been in business, who are their clients, have they earned industry recognition and can they share case studies?

These considerations should help you get started in partnering with an assessment vendor who will help you achieve your, and your organization’s short- and long-term goals.