Should You Outsource or Keep Learning In-House?

THE ANSWER ISN’T AS SIMPLE AS YES OR NO 

Maybe you’ve made the decision to introduce eLearning content into your organization for the first time or maybe you have a learning team already defined as part of the organization. Either way, the question “who’s going to develop the content?” is something teams should consistently consider.

Learning and development deliverables cannot be considered “just another piece of content”. It is a complicated process to bring together the instructional design methodologies, technical skills, and domain of expertise required to make your learning program successful.

There is no absolute right or wrong answer, but there are some pros and cons of outsourcing that should direct your thought process. When considering who should develop you content it’s a good idea to keep these things in mind. A strategic learning partner can:

  1. Save time: A well-managed agency can more quickly produce high-quality solutions than the typical internal learning team if for no other reason than they are 100% dedicated to delivering on-time results. Requiring your content provider to provide a schedule of deliverables is always a good practice.
  2. Deliver more innovative solutions: Strategically partnering with an external provider can keep your organization from becoming stagnant and ineffective. Good providers stay on top of emerging technologies and trends and are experienced at using best practices with their training development.
  3. Address the need for always-on development: External providers allow you to scale-up and scale-down your learning production based on your company needs, tempo, and cycles. Turn on production when you need it, and turn it off without impacting your talent, when your needs are elsewhere.
  4. Provide access to up-to-date learning expertise: Outsourcing provides you with on-demand access to instructional design and learning experts who have worked with top-tier brands in your industry and solved common problems your organization is trying to overcome. By tapping their depth of experience, a strategic learning partner can help you foresee, avoid and as necessary resolve challenges as they arise.
  5. Navigate organizational needs: Learning and development expertise isn’t enough. Today’s learners demand visually compelling, engaging, available anywhere learning requiring access to and coordination with technical resources. Consider whether your technical team has both the mandate and bandwidth to ensure systems are seamless.
  6. Provide subject matter expertise: while there is no substitute for internal knowledge, good strategic providers develop teams dynamically that include vertical and/or horizontal industry expertise. This can reduce the time demands on your internal teams and help to deliver content faster and more efficiently – something your business partners will certainly appreciate!
  7. Deliver best-of-breed design components: Most learning and development teams don’t have audio, video, narration and design teams on staff, but an effective provider will have access to a wide, experienced and cost-effective network of providers that specialize in each of these learning aspects.

When considering the question “whether to outsource or not”, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to – nor should you – outsource everything. In the next couple of weeks, look for our upcoming post on what learning you should seriously consider keeping in-house.

The bottom line, there isn’t a single answer for every organization. One thing is certain, however, choosing the right partner is key to making outsourcing successful. The right strategic partner can help you deliver better learning, more efficiently, just when you need it. If you are considering whether to outsource specific learning or not, we would be happy to discuss the pros and the cons relative to your specific situation.