Lifetime and Aptem: Sharing the selection process

The methodology involved in Lifetime Training’s procurement of an apprenticeship delivery platform

In March 2021, following a year long procurement process, Lifetime, the largest training provider in the UK, signed up to the award-winning end-to-end platform, Aptem, to deliver its apprenticeships and Kickstart programmes.

Lifetime has built a strong reputation for delivering award-winning training programmes to 20,000 learners a year. As you would expect from a company with this reputation its approach to procuring a new system was robust, methodical and highly detailed. The process involved a year long consultation period, over 100 hours of pre-contract sessions, and a three-stage approach, as it sought to replace its proprietary systems with an ‘all in one place’ apprenticeship and vocational training delivery platform, to manage all aspects of its programmes. 

Key to this successful approach was a small group of senior level, highly knowledgeable people, on both sides of the partnership, who stayed with the project throughout.

“Right from the start it became clear that we needed a system which would both simplify and enhance the learning experience for our learners. We needed something flexible, that we could customise for our needs and maintain our unique, high-quality curriculum and training delivery model. Absolutely key to our selection was finding a company who we could create a genuine partnership with.” Mark Denton, IT and Learning Technologies Director.

Stage one: Initial engagement

The process for Lifetime was collaborative across a number of departments and they kept asking themselves ‘what are the problems we are trying to fix’. It commenced with a series of detailed deep dives into all aspects of the system, from pre-enrolment, through ILR, funding, the learner journey and more. Every area of the system was walked through in detail. All sessions were recorded and the team at Lifetime frequently went back through these recordings to confirm their understanding.

A future-proof system

A critical requirement from any system was that it met Lifetime’s aspirational development goals over the next five years. Aptem’s roadmaps closely aligned with Lifetime’s requirements. The Aptem team’s approach to problem solving was also a primary reason for selection. “Their solution to handling multiple programmes through their sub-programme solution, which went live recently, was a great example of this.” Mark Denton,  IT and Learning Technologies Director.

Stage two: The discovery phase

The discovery phase involved a set of very detailed workshops where the project team from Aptem and Lifetime walked through and understood Lifetime’s various business processes, before recommending a solution and way of working using Aptem. 

The team remained consistent throughout this period, so the learnings gained over the previous months were not lost. This was particularly important as the stakeholder group broadened out. “The discovery phase was very much about our team at Aptem understanding Lifetime’s business processes and how their existing systems work, so that we could ensure that our system not only replicated but went a stage further,” explains Shaun Elliott, Product Director at Aptem. “This phased implementation allowed us to make recommendations to Lifetime about how to get the most out of the product, to fulfil their organisational requirements and objectives.”

A great example of this was the immediate requirement for Lifetime to use the system to support Kickstart in quarter one 2021. Aptem already has an inbuilt product to support the major employability contracts including Kickstart, so Lifetime was able to access it and start delivering Kickstart placements for young people.

A phased implementation

During this phase, a group of Lifetime learners commenced their programmes using Aptem. This implementation was supported by a dedicated Project Manager at Aptem alongside the Implementation Consultant.

Aptem received great feedback from Lifetime’s coaches and their learners during this discovery phase.

“Great system, learners have liked it. It’s easy and quick to use. It flows well and is easy to navigate.” Sharath, Coach.

“Easy to use, user friendly, and makes coaches lives easier.” Kirsty, Coach.

“I like the fact that our view is the same as the learners and you can see how long they spend on activities.” Tom, Coach.

Stage three: Roll out

Lifetime has now entered a phased roll out plan for the majority of their learners that is due to complete by the end of 2021,. Using a ‘train the trainer’ approach, supported by bespoke documentation, dedicated trainers at Lifetime are disseminating information about Aptem through the business.

Key to this partnership has been the collaborative approach throughout the procurement process. “This has been a consultative approach. Aptem really sought to understand our business, our processes, our products, and provide a solution that works for us both now and in the future. We have been delighted by the feedback received from learners and tutors during the phased implementation. We look forward to continuing to work in partnership with Aptem for many years.” Carl Cornish, Chief Operating Officer.

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