Whether it’s a large enterprise organization or a small business, every company in existence has learning needs. If your people aren’t growing, your company isn’t, either. There was a time when the learning function was viewed as a “nice-to-have” and the first department in line for budget cuts when a company fell on lean times. Today, that’s no longer the case. In fact, those times are when smart executives ramp up their training efforts. Companies recognize that having ongoing L&D activities that support the needs of the business is crucial to staying competitive and maintaining a thriving organization.
Like most things, technology has made learning simple and complex – simple for the learners and complex for the practitioners. Not that many years ago, companies would schedule a course with a live instructor to a select group of learners using printed materials. Now, there are the added complexities of learning strategy, business alignment, training needs analysis, skills gap analysis, the multi-generational workforce, widely dispersed audiences and a plethora of learning modalities to consider.
The learning function has had to keep up with the demands of technology, the demands of learners and the demands of the business at large, and so have the learning practitioners. Corporate learning departments are tasked with doing more and knowing more … often within tight budgets. Words like virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) are being thrown about in conversation, but not everyone is sure how to implement these types of technologies. Bringing on additional employees is not always an option. Can your L&D practitioners keep up? What happens if they can’t?
Enter outsourcing. “Outsourcing” as a term developed a bad rap back in the day, likely because some considered it synonymous with offshoring. To distinguish outsourcing from offshoring, we now have plenty of words to describe the function: out-tasking, contracting, the contingent workforce, the agile workforce, the gig economy, business process outsourcing (BPO), staff augmentation, subcontracting, farming out … Pick the term that makes you feel the most comfortable, because the practice is here to stay.
The outsourcing of non-core business functions has become a mainstream practice, and outsourcing the learning function is no different than outsourcing, say, your company’s payroll.
Under what circumstances should your company consider outsourcing learning and development? Here are seven.
1. You Have Numerous, Diverse Training Needs.
Most companies are comprised of multiple different business units or departments, each with its own unique training and development needs. Your marketing team may need to develop skills in marketing analytics, SEO or a new marketing automation software. Your IT staff may need to brush up on the latest security threats and best practices in cybersecurity. Your sales team could benefit from learning about consultative selling approaches. Your customer service department may need a course in conflict resolution. And, your company’s managers are most certainly in need of leadership development … because whose isn’t?
Considering the complexities of the topics and the specific expertise required to launch successful training programs in them, you likely don’t have the in-house resources, in terms of bandwidth and expertise, to meet all of these needs.
2. You’re Lacking Technology Expertise.
All too often, internal technology experts are asked to conduct training. The issue with this approach is these people aren’t trainers. Bringing in the talent who not only understand the technology but are also experts at teaching it will make a world of difference in both learner engagement and learning outcomes.
3. You Have a Large-scale Rollout.
When your company decides to upgrade or switch to a new technology platform, you’ll likely have employees who will use the platform for different purposes. Some “power users” will use it to perform the day-to-day functions of their jobs. Others will use it only for analytics and reporting. You will need to customize the training program to meet the specific needs of the users.
But wait … there’s more. You may have hundreds or maybe even thousands of employees to train, and they may be located all over the map. Outsourcing training will be a key factor in ensuring that your technology implementations and product or process rollouts will be met with a minimum number of snags and time delays.
4. You Want Interactive E-Learning.
E-learning development isn’t just slapping a PowerPoint presentation together in a linear format like it was when it was introduced. Today’s e-learning developers need to have skills in instructional design methodologies, (ADDIE, RAD, SAM, Bloom’s taxonomy, the Kirkpatrick model, etc.), adult learning theory, content writing, graphic design, project management (and project management technologies), communication, collaboration, rapid authoring tools, and learning management systems. The level of interactivity and animation you want in your e-learning will dictate the level of expertise you will need from the e-learning developer. Do your in-house developers have the expertise to deliver the end product you need?
5. You Have Temporary or Short-term Training or Development Needs.
For one-off type training or development initiatives, it doesn’t always make sense to pull your team’s focus away from its ongoing duties. Outsourcing L&D can fill the gaps for these temporary events and will not cause you to fall behind in your other important projects.
6. You Have Budget Constraints.
How can outsourcing be less expensive than the staff you already have in place? It can, especially if you don’t have the expertise in house. Let’s assume for a moment that your L&D staff are already working at capacity, because they probably are. Outsourcing the services you need, only when you need them, can make all the difference when it comes to launching your L&D programs. With an outsourcing model, once the project is over, the talent is no longer an expense.
7. You Have Time Constraints.
When you need to start a mission-critical project quickly, outsourcing can be the answer. Many training providers can produce training content quickly (in any format) and provide you with the right number of resources with the right skill sets to get it off the ground. Need proprietary training on a system, product or process? These companies can orchestrate train-the-trainer programs designed to quickly ramp up talent using your in-house subject matter experts as master trainers and facilitators to meet your company’s specific needs.
When contemplating your next L&D project, consider outsourcing it to a training provider. These companies can have thousands of L&D experts at their disposal to meet your company’s specific needs. Most of the L&D talent used by these organizations have been working with them for many years, so their expertise and the quality of their work is well documented. The best part is, the company does all the work to qualify these candidates, so you don’t have to.