With the pace at which businesses are growing, there is constant pressure on learning and development (L&D) teams to develop training programs on an ongoing basis. Online or digital options are their best bet, but in-house teams don’t always have the bandwidth or the capability to quickly develop online training content. In such situations, one good option to consider is outsourcing the development of online training content to e-learning vendors using strategic or tactical outsourcing.

Strategic Outsourcing

In strategic outsourcing, your relationship with the vendor is a long-term partnership, and e-learning outsourcing is part of your organization’s training strategy. The vendor plays an active role in your organization’s training strategy and planning. This strategy is useful if you cannot afford to dedicate manpower and resources internally for e-learning projects but foresee an ongoing need for e-learning development.

Strategic outsourcing can be a good option when you need to focus on business goals. E-learning requires a dedicated team of instructional designers, learning experts and multimedia developers who bring their individual expertise to develop online courses. However, it may not always be viable for organizations to invest in a dedicated e-learning team. Often, subject matter experts double as training managers and take on the additional responsibility of e-learning with the help of a small staff. In such a case, having an outsourcing partner will drastically lessen the burden of the SMEs and allow them to focus on their core competencies. They can oversee and facilitate e-learning development while the outsourcing partner does all the heavy lifting.

You might also opt for strategic outsourcing when you want to ensure that courses use current standards and technologies. When you decide to partner with an e-learning vendor, you gain access to their expertise. Vendors regularly invest in authoring tools and follow best practices to drive efficient digital learning development. As a result, your courses will always be current in terms of quality and e-learning standards.

Once you have a long-term relationship with a vendor, you can ensure all your courses are up to date and compatible with the latest browsers and devices. Updating them will be easier, because the vendor already has the source files. As a result, there is a better chance of an increased return on investment (ROI) from your online training programs.

Tactical Outsourcing

In tactical outsourcing, outsourcing is a reaction to a training need that requires immediate attention. For example, you may want to convert an existing online training program to a responsive design so that it is accessible on multiple mobile devices, but your internal staff do not have the skills or resources. Other common examples are converting Flash-based courses to HTML5 or proving training on a new software.

Tactical outsourcing also allows you to accomplish your short-term goals on a tight budget. For example, let’s say you need to convert a manual to an online course, but you don’t need the vendor involved with other instructional design requirements. In such a case, tactical outsourcing would make sense.

Many organizations have a full e-learning development team, but there might be times when those resources are occupied, and you have to meet a deadline for an online training program rollout. In this case, it makes sense to outsource part of or the complete project to an e-learning vendor. This partnership would be tactical and short-term.

The right outsourcing strategy depends on your specific training requirements. If you are looking for a quick-fix solution, tactical outsourcing is helpful. If you intend to view outsourcing as a long-term strategy, then it’s better to go with strategic outsourcing, where you identify and nurture a long-term e-learning outsourcing partner.