Believe it or not, training - when you or your colleagues are sat in a room learning something new - is actually the last part of a five step process that all good training companies should follow. If taken, these five steps ensure that both the training company and your trainees are getting the most out of the training sessions, and that they are caring about your training needs, your objectives and how they will be delivered.

Step one - identifying objectives with you

By clearly defining what you want to get from the training, it stops any potential dissatisfaction further down the line, when you didn't realise what either needs to be included or left out of the training. Sometimes, when this happens, it's not the training company's fault, because their client has been vague or non-descript about their needs.

Sitting down and discussing this with the training provider will help flesh out what the gaps in your knowledge are, and you can both start thinking about ways and methods of training that may fill them.

If a company doesn't help you to identify your objectives, then that's a bad sign - it's also an indicator that they will stick to a rigid, inflexible 'one size fits all' approach that may leave out essential skills that your company needs as part of the training.

Step two - the right trainer for the job

If the training isn't E-learning or online, then it will be presented, workshopped or run by a human - one picked because they are the best person qualified to do that specific training, not because they were the only one free on a Friday afternoon! Don't be afraid to grill the training company about who will be giving the course, and consequently asking about their qualifications and expertise.

Most companies - the good ones, that is - will be only too happy to introduce you to your trainer before they commence the course, and more often than not, it's that same person who should also be helping you in step one.

Step three - the scope of the training

Will it take an hour, a day, a week? What equipment or software is needed? Should they come to you and roll it out in your office, or do you take advantage of their training facilities? These questions and options should be openly discussed with you as part of planning the training.

If you're only presented with one option - you coming to the training office - ask yourself why you're being forced into accepting this if it's not the most convenient and effective way of training. Is it because they can't come to you, or don't have the expertise or staff? Most times, the training company will tailor the sessions to suit you, not the other way around.

Step four - agreeing the cost and contents beforehand

This is essential, especially as training is usually a budgetary concern to most businesses. Know the final figure you are expected to pay before the training starts. Otherwise, less scrupulous training companies may add on extra hidden costs, such as charging for renting their equipment or providing written handouts.

What you also need to know is a list of contents for the course, just so you know how long each element will take, and what has been included. If something is missed out during the training, it's very hard to persuade a company to come back (or for you to revisit at additional cost) to plug the gap that you thought shouldn't be there in the first place.

Step five - the actual training

This is the final step, and should run smoothly if steps one to four have been diligently followed by your chosen training company. All that's left is for your staff to attend (or be attended to in your place of work), and for everything to come together. When training works well, it's excellent - and you'll have a more skilled workforce as a result. When it goes wrong - it's usually because one of these steps has been missed out. Don't let it happen to you!