All business leaders know that outsourcing a few functions can help organizations save money, improve efficiency, and let their internal teams focus on what they do best. But for learning and development (L&D) teams, there are unique considerations – and benefits – to outsourcing functions such as content development, training delivery, leadership development, sales training, and more.
L&D is a critical function in any large organization, as this is the team that fosters a continuous learning culture. It’s well-documented that companies with such cultures tend to outperform others, attract top-tier talent, and enjoy greater customer satisfaction. This approach can grant you access to innovative technology and expertise while potentially boosting your return on investment (ROI).
In-House L&D Projects vs. Outsourcing: A Comparative Analysis of Benefits
- Flexible Options: Outsourcing partners can be hired for specific projects without committing to long, expensive contracts. They can also handle tasks that an in-house L&D team might not be able to, like launching big products or creating advanced training with things like virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), or online learning.
- Quick Execution: Outsourced L&D providers are experts at creating and executing training programs. L&D providers have to the right experience to manage issues and setbacks effortlessly. This means projects stay on track and get done faster.
- Cost-effective: While outsourcing does carry a cost, it is usually more cost-effective, and produces better results than when an internal team does all the work independently. You can easily tap into skills that might not exist on your team, or you can save costs by not having to keep as large of a full-time staff employed year-round. And, your team can focus on their own areas of expertise, which keeps them happy and engaged, which can lower costs in the long run, making them less likely to leave their jobs. Ultimately, this leads to better business results through learning.
- Access to Expertise: According to the 2022 Future of Work study, employees are generally dissatisfied with the quality and relevance of their employers’ training for career development. Organizations using external L&D providers can tap into people with good L&D strategies. These experts know a lot about making training materials and can tell organizations what’s new and useful in the training world. Outsourcing also lets you tap into specific skill sets that may not be on your team, such as SMEs, LXEs, etc. Furthermore, you can outsource administrative functions that can be time consuming and less strategic for your own team, freeing up more time for everyone.
- Expands Geographic Footprint: Geographically distributed organizations bring unique challenges, especially when it comes to making sure that all teams meet their own learning outcomes. Training requirements, regulatory and compliance dimensions , and language and cultural differences present unique training challenges across countries, regions, and continents. Engaging the services of truly global training outsourcing organizations can eliminate these challenges when the outsourcing partner has teams located globally, ready to support any regional need as part of a single project.
Implementing an Outsourced L&D Strategy
According to McKinsey, the need to close skill gaps has become more pressing since the pandemic, and 58% of companies are now prioritizing this, with 69% increasing their investment in skill-building. The effective implementation of an outsourced L&D strategy demands careful consideration. It entails careful planning, precise execution, and vigilant oversight.
Development of a Comprehensive Plan and Timeline
- Comprehensive Needs Assessment: It is critical to conduct a thorough analysis of your L&D needs before outsourcing any of them. This encompasses the identification of skill gaps, performance deficiencies, and training prerequisites within the organization. This serves as the bedrock for the outsourcing strategy.
- Definition of Objectives: Articulating clear, measurable objectives is paramount. Precisely delineate the objectives you seek to accomplish via L&D outsourcing, be it the enhancement of employee productivity, the mitigation of turnover, or the refinement of specific competencies. These objectives function as the yardstick for gauging progress.
- Selection of the Appropriate Provider: The selection of an L&D partner should be conducted judiciously, considering factors such as expertise, track record, cost-efficiency, and scalability. The partner should be a good cultural fit for the organization. Look for vendors with proven experience and specialized focus on the needs of L&D teams, who ensure you achieve learning outcomes.
- Resource Allocation: Allocate requisite financial and human resources to substantiate the outsourcing endeavor. Ensure that the necessary budget and teams are available to oversee the partnership.
- Timetable and Milestones: Develop an implementation schedule with well-defined milestones. This facilitates progress tracking and ensures the project adheres to the stipulated timeline.
Setting and Monitoring KPIs And Metrics
- Metric Formulation: Choose KPIs and metrics that will measure the success of your L&D initiatives. These may include employee engagement levels, knowledge retention rates, training completion statistics, and performance enhancements.
- Baseline Assessment: Before embarking on outsourcing, amass baseline data to understand the current state of L&D within the organization. This will provide a benchmark against which the impact of L&D outsourcing can be measured.
- Routine Reporting: Implement a robust reporting mechanism that permits the continual monitoring of KPIs. Consistent reports from the outsourced L&D provider should be measured against the baseline and revised benchmarks.
Ensuring Seamless Integration with In-House Teams
- Fluid Communication: Effective communication between the in-house teams and the outsourced L&D provider is indispensable. Make sure that all stakeholders have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities.
- Fostering Collaboration: Foster a climate of collaboration and knowledge exchange between the in-house L&D professionals and the external provider. This can culminate in the assimilation of best practices and the formulation of a more cohesive learning strategy.
- Change Management: Be primed to manage any resistance to change that may manifest when L&D outsourcing is introduced. Providing training and support to employees is imperative to ensure a seamless transition.
Ongoing Monitoring and Evaluation
- Perpetual Enhancement: L&D outsourcing constitutes an ongoing endeavor necessitating periodic evaluation and refinement. Regularly scrutinize the efficacy of the outsourced programs and effectuate requisite adaptations.
- Feedback Mechanism: Institute a feedback loop with employees to solicit their input concerning the caliber and relevance of the training programs. Their perspectives can prove invaluable in refining the strategy.
- Contractual Review: Periodically scrutinize the terms and conditions of the outsourcing agreement to ensure its continued alignment with the evolving needs and objectives of the organization.
Outsourcing your L&D strategy offers advantages like flexibility, speed, cost-effectiveness, and access to expertise. Implementing it involves careful planning, provider selection, integration with in-house teams, and ongoing monitoring. Continuous learning can help your organization stay ahead of the competition, attract top talent, and improve customer satisfaction.
If you’re interested in enhancing your current training programs with the support of an L&D partner or wish to explore the advantages of outsourcing L&D for your organization, contact us!