If you were to rate your assessment vendor on a scale of 1 to 10, what score would you give them? Chances are, they’re not a perfect 10. The reality is that not all vendors can effectively meet your expectations. That’s especially true as your needs adapt to new demands such as market changes, emerging technologies, and more. You may find yourself grappling with a myriad of challenges that can significantly impact your daily operations, test-taker experience, and program performance.
All programs experience pain points in the life cycle of their vendor relationship. The pains are often temporary or minor enough to overcome through close collaboration. But it’s important to recognize the tipping point when they become overwhelming, at which time you might begin to evaluate other assessment vendors. The thought of switching providers can be daunting, but it may be necessary to drive your program forward.
In this article, we’ll briefly touch on some pain points you may experience if your vendor is no longer a good fit for your program. We’ll then dive deep into examples of how three common pain points can become major causes of friction, with a ripple effect of negative impacts. Near the end, we’ll provide a few upsides you can expect if you do find yourself re-evaluating your assessment vendor.
Common Exam Program Pain Points
Let’s be honest: No client-vendor relationship is perfect all the time. Each one experiences pain points as it evolves, and it’s important to differentiate those that cause modest, resolvable problems versus those that cause long-standing problems you can no longer ignore.
Over the years, we’ve heard from many program managers about the provider challenges they’ve encountered. While some of the challenges are small bumps in a typically smooth road, others signal an eroding client-vendor fit as the assessment industry and program requirements change.
|Limited Flexibility & Collaboration||Lack of Integration Capabilities||Limited Support & Responsiveness|
|Rigid Cost & Pricing Structure||Poor User Experience||Inadequate Security Measures|
|Lack of Transparency||Technical Issues & Reliability||Limited Scalability & Performance|
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common pain points and examples of when they may become untreatable.
Limited Flexibility and Collaboration
Your assessment vendor’s willingness to openly communicate with you, adapt to your needs, and go the extra mile can demonstrate a commitment to the short- and long-term success of your exam program. However, if your vendor lacks flexibility in its collaboration style or product and service offerings, you may struggle to adapt to new assessment or test-taker demands.
The concept isn’t new: Vendors must often prioritize the needs of their biggest clients. And if your program isn’t one of them, your vendor may be unwilling to make product or service line changes for you, which can impact your ability to implement new solutions or adjust existing ones.
Say, for example, you’re using your vendor’s test centers to deliver exams but would like to expand to a multi-modal approach that includes remote delivery so you can increase your program’s reach while providing test-taker choice and convenience. Even though your vendor’s network of test centers can handle all your current in-person exams, its online proctoring capabilities may not be robust enough to manage your exam requirements. If your vendor doesn’t see the value of collaborating with you to improve its solution, it may try to dissuade you from pursuing online proctoring altogether. So what do you do in this scenario? Unless you find an online delivery solution, your program could miss potential growth opportunities, lose test-takers to competitive credentialing programs, and face various other consequences.
Lack of Integration Capabilities
Product pain points, such as technical and integration issues, rarely occur in a silo. A poorly integrated exam solution often results in technical issues, which can then impact the overall user experience. Furthermore, a greater number of support requests and test-taker complaints can result in more work for you and your colleagues, which can lead to friction with your assessment solution vendor. The reason for these interconnected pain points is simple: Your test-takers expect a seamless product experience, which—as your client-vendor relationship matures—often includes integration.
Consider this example: Your program has used your vendor’s exam platform and manual vouchering process since you first started working with them. However, as your program evolves, you now want to use a third-party vouchering system that offers a better user interface for your customers. If your vendor can’t integrate its commerce or payment platform with your chosen vouchering system, you won’t be able to provide the robust vouchering capabilities you want to offer your customers. This may result in a series of negative effects, including reduced efficiencies for your colleagues.
Limited Support and Responsiveness
Prompt and knowledgeable client support is essential when technical, performance, or other issues arise. If your assessment vendor is unresponsive, lacks the expertise needed to address your issues, or fails to resolve those issues in a timely manner, that can undermine the confidence you have in the vendor’s ability to support your exam program. Additionally, if you experience an ongoing issue but your vendor isn’t communicating clearly with you, you may struggle to share information with test-takers, leaving them confused and ready to voice their frustration on social media.
As an example, let’s say you begin to hear reports of test-taker cheating or uncover a concerning trend showing aberrant scores through data forensics, prompting concerns about security and proctoring processes. If your vendor is slow to respond and/or unable to address the issues, your program and overall brand may be at risk.
Benefits of Changing Assessment Vendors When It’s Necessary
Besides alleviating the pain points already discussed, switching assessment vendors can provide numerous benefits, including:
- Improved program performance and effectiveness
- Enhanced test-taker and program manager experience
- Future innovations and advancements
“With the right vendor, change isn’t an obstacle to overcome but an opportunity to improve.”Danielle Geddes, VP of Enterprise Sales, Meazure Learning
Switching assessment vendors may be the right choice if your pain points become too burdensome or problematic. That said, the decision to change is rarely easy, especially if you’ve been with one vendor for many years. It might be difficult to overcome change resistance, but maintaining the status quo may be holding your program back.
If you’re working with an assessment solution vendor that’s no longer a good fit for your program, you may feel acute pain points that widely impact your daily operations, test-taker experience, and program performance. Take heart that strategic change can help right your metaphorical ship. When you do find a vendor that can meet your program’s needs and goals, you’ll see improved outcomes for everyone involved.
To learn more about how exam vendors can vary in their approach and offerings, read our article “The Role of Tailored Assessment Solutions—and How to Choose the Right Provider.”