A Cheat Sheet on Outsourcing Learning Program Functions

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In a recent article for Chief Learning Officer, Andie Burjek shares the factors leaders should consider when deciding to outsource or keep learning in-house.

He writes that while there are possible negatives, an effective Learning & Development (L&D) “…outsourcing program can have a positive impact on an organization.” He shares the following:

According to L&D Leaders, the factors that drive a company to consider outsourcing are reducing costs, getting access to specialties and capabilities the company doesn’t have or doesn’t have the resources to build and getting best-in-class training in an area that is not a core competency.

We’ve summarized the following parts of the learning function that can be outsourced with positive results, according to Burjek:

  1. Staying current on new tools and technologies (which most companies can’t afford or aren’t willing to invest the money it would take to stay current)
  2. Staying current on new trends in innovation and how people want to learn Custom content development and trends in content development (e.g. gamification, simulations, etc.)
  3. Learning administration, such as back-office activities (e.g. event management, materials, etc.)
  4. Delivery, including instruction or delivery of training, especially if this frees full-time employees to focus on other things and outsourced instructors to focus entirely on instruction
  5. Vendor management/strategic sourcing, especially if the company relies on many third-party providers

At Edvance360, we have seen a trend of increase in outsourcing management of the Learning Management System (LMS), particularly if the company has one staff member or less dedicated to the L&D program. This frees the staff member to focus on culture, strategy, and buy-in, while letting a third-party vendor manage the reporting and other administrative functions of the LMS. (Many of our clients have outsourced this to Edvance360 staff members who are experts in the LMS.)

However, not everything can or should be outsourced. Burjek shares the thoughts from other directors of learning and development programs, who explain that aspects such as learning strategy, vision, core competencies, and leadership should never be outsourced.

Burjek shares that outsourcing anything connected to core business processes risks losing connectivity to a company’s people, leadership and culture. Outsourcing aspects that positively impact the learner’s experience, such as new forms of delivery, ways to use new technology, or how to make learning more fun, can bring great gain in areas the company might not be able to utilize otherwise.