If you’re responsible for training within your organization, you’ve probably grappled with this pivotal question: Should I create my own training courses, or should I hire an instructional design team to build them for me? If you’re asking this question, you’re probably already thinking about all of the constraints you’d have to manage if you go either route. Namely whether or not you have the time to develop your own eLearning content or the budget to hire an eLearning specialist.
If you look beyond the confines of time and money, there are multiple reasons for why you should (or shouldn’t) develop your own eLearning content that should be considered.
To determine what the best decision will be for your business, weigh the advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing eLearning content development listed below.
5 Advantages of Outsourcing Your eLearning Content Development
In the last few years, the eLearning industry has expanded drastically. That, in turn, has led to an increased availability of external providers for your digital training content, thanks above all to five advantages this route can offer your business:
- Specialized Expertise. Above all, outsourcing your eLearning content means placing its development in the hands of professionals. The training industry is changing rapidly, and keeping pace with new developments and opportunities (and the skill sets required for them) can be difficult. An external vendor will take care of that for you.
- Scalability. If your development does not depend on an internal team, it’s easier to scale up (or down) as needed. Should you need more training content, the vendor will simply scale up the team, which can be difficult to impossible to achieve internally.
- Focused Development. Outsourcing means placing your content efforts in the hands of a partner whose focus rests solely on its development. You don’t have to focus on staffing issues, software tangentials, or anything else adjacent to the development process.
- Fast Turnaround Times. A vendor you work with will likely place emphasis on fast project turnarounds. Because many of the adjacent issues are taken care of separately, that means better time-to-completion for any eLearning content you are looking to produce.
- The Potential for Innovation. When you handle the development of training content in-house, you likely have time - at best - to focus on the status quo. An external team, on the other hand, can help you be aware of technology and audience trends, implementing more innovative and forward-looking solutions as a result.
5 Drawbacks of Engaging in Outsourcing Efforts
Of course, despite the above advantages, external content development is no magic bullet for your eLearning strategy. Instead, if you consider the possibility of outsourcing your efforts, it makes sense to also keep in mind the potential drawbacks that come with it:
- Potential cost. If you hire a dedicated content team, outsourcing is less expensive than its alternative. But on its own, compared to utilizing your existing staff, it can be expensive. That’s especially the case if hidden costs, editing rounds, or delays enter the equation.
- Lack of Organizational Expertise. Naturally, an external partner will not know your training subject or employees as well as you do. Unless a specific information dissemination process is in place, that lack of expertise can lead to less effective training materials.
- Variable Quality. When you produce training videos and other content in-house, chances are you know exactly what you’re getting. But working with external vendors, especially in a new working relationship, might not be as reliable. Initially, the quality of videos you receive may not be up to your (or your audience’s) standards.
- Language and Cultural Barriers. Especially if you choose a foreign vendor, you may run into both of these barriers in the course of your relationship. And even domestic partners could lead to cultural differences on a more local level.
- Loss of Control. Even in outsourcing your content, you will still maintain some degree of control. But that control will not be as complete as it might be for internally developed training materials. For instance, once you have given initial guidance, you may not see a video until it is already produced.
How Do You Know What Decision is Right For You?
Ultimately, the best way to square your desire to outsource the eLearning content development process with your available resources is to engage in a cost-benefit analysis for your specific situation. Businesses outsource content across the board for a variety of reasons, from scaling eLearning efforts to taking advantage of increased expertise. With these variables in mind, consider the following decision points for your consideration:
- What type of content do I need? Simple types of content - such as short corporate training videos - can easily be produced in-house. More complex alternatives, however, can benefit from and even require a vendor with a professional focus on this area of expertise.
- What are my content expectations? Another axis of consideration should be your quality expectations. Put simply; the more professional your training materials need to be, the greater the need for external expertise.
- What are my available resources? If you already have an eLearning or content development team in place, outsourcing may not be necessary. If on the other hand, that expertise does not exist in your organization, it makes sense to find it externally.
- What can a vendor provide that I cannot? In many ways, this question is a summary of the above points. Outsourcing makes sense, as long as you have the resources - and the process adds an element to the process that would not otherwise exist.
eLearning can only be successful if the content you provide your trainees is both engaging and relevant. To accomplish that goal, understanding whether or not you should outsource your eLearning content development is absolutely vital. But of course, regardless of your content, you need a solution through which you can present it to anyone in need of more or better training.
That’s where we come in. Knowledge Anywhere offers a flexible, customizable, and powerful learning management solution. We also look to assist in course development, helping you build a better curriculum for your employees. We welcome you to learn more about our capabilities, and how we can help you improve your eLearning courses.
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