Knowing When to Outsource Content Development

Decisions, decisions, decisions… There could be many reasons why you’re currently considering the “build vs. buy” conundrum.  Maybe your organization has custom proprietary training that needs to be developed.  Maybe you want to WOW your learners with something innovative, creative, and interactive, with video or virtual reality.  And, bells and whistles aside, maybe you’ve got to roll out compliance or DEI training, but you don’t have the in-house expertise to create courses that are accurate and legally defensible.  These factors, and more, should be considered when deciding if you should be outsourcing your content development needs.  

There’s No Time to Lose

As the great Miles Davis once said, “Time isn’t the main thing. It’s the only thing.”  And who among us doesn’t need more time?  A learning partner will have a team of experts who can engage with you as consultants to assess your needs, establish parameters for success, provide guidance on current trends, determine what information and resources already exist and how to use them, and ultimately speed up deployment. While you may have the best of intentions by taking on task after project after task, ultimately almost all of us are challenged with the “too much to do and not enough time to do it.”  And when it comes to developing learning, we don’t want our learners to suffer due to our lack of time.   Outsourcing your development needs will give you back the precious gift of time and free up your resources and bandwidth to focus on other priorities.

It’s All About Engagement  

Some of you may remember the good old days when eLearning used to be a PowerPoint deck (maybe even with *gasp* animations and builds) that we would convert and deploy in our LMS.  Yeah, they were never actually the good old days, because most of the time that learning was a lackluster snooze fest.  But when we were building it ourselves and we needed to get it done - we did what we had to do.  Even with the myriad of rapid authoring tools now available, the bar set for learner engagement is so high that it’s unlikely you’ll be able to design anything that will keep your learners’ attention and help them retain and apply what they’ve learned.  Because today’s distracted, multi-tasking, short-attention-span-having learners demand SO MUCH MORE.  Various studies show that the average attention span is around 8-12 seconds. Yes, you read that right – and we’re not talking about goldfish, we’re talking about humans.  To maintain learner attention and engagement, you’ve got to employ a wide range of approaches, including:

  • Gaming
  • Interactive exercises
  • Visual imagery
  • Storytelling
  • Emotional scenarios
  • Questions/quizzes
  • Controversy

Shorter Shelf Life

Another contributing factor to your decision to outsource should be the pace of change.   Take compliance training, for example.  Recent years have brought about an unprecedented shift towards state-specific legislation related to Harassment, Diversity, Bullying, Safety, and much more.  Changes were so rapid-fire that many company attorneys got whiplash!  The lightspeed pace of change for virtually all learning is now the norm.  And if you’re developing your content in-house, you’re also responsible for keeping it updated.  Conflicting priorities, shifting initiatives and budgetary barriers could all contribute to your content going sour on the shelf and leaving your organization wide open to skills gaps and even legal liability.  By choosing a leading learning partner, you are tapped into the collective expertise of a team whose mission is to design, develop and deliver relevant, current, and effective content solutions.  Even if you have your own team of content developers, chances are that they will face challenges wading through the morass of shifting legislation, shifting requirements, shifting preferences, and shifting needs. 

Keep Your Budget Balanced

Yes. Outsourcing can be, and usually is, less expensive than leveraging internal resources.  Think about the kind of expertise it takes to design, develop and deploy good training…you need people with skills in instructional design, adult learning theory, technical authoring, project management, consulting, communication, graphic arts, analytics, and much more.  Hiring for these skills can get quite pricey.  And even if you already have them in-house, the chances are they are maxed out with competing projects and priorities, and your training initiatives will go into the queue.  And let’s not forget the cost of all the technology needed to develop training.   

According to the Association for Talent Development, organizations spend about $1,273 for direct learning per employee per year. Almost 75 percent of that is for internal learning and development, and only around 25 percent is outsourced. This means a company with 10,000 employees spends around $12.7 million annually to support learning and development, and a whopping $9.5 million of that goes toward internal functions.

A trusted learning partner can help you not only reduce your costs, but they can help you strategize and plan to maximize the impact of training while optimizing service levels, improving business processes, and enhancing the efficiency of learning administration. Who wouldn’t want all that good stuff? Cheaper. Seriously.

Pick Your Learning Partner

As time and budgets decrease, our need for closing skills gaps, building knowledge, and keeping employees engaged increases. Few organizations have the robust training resources and expertise in-house that are needed to stay on top of the continually shifting sands of demands. Sacrificing learning is not – and never should be – an option. 

Let eLearning Brothers share all the super cool, awesome ways we can be your learning partner of choice for current and future training needs.  We’ve got this! 

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