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Wondering what will be the cost of e-learning outsourcing in the hard dollar terms?

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Wondering what will be the cost of e-learning outsourcing in the hard dollar terms?

Determining the cost of e-learning design and development can be a tricky, especially when there are too many factors involved in it.

When prospects ask me what would be the cost of e-learning, I asked them a question in return: Can you answer these questions for me so that I can give you a ballpark figure?

Here is an attempt to give you hard numbers through these scenarios.

What is the performance goal?

If the goal is to inform, then the cost can be less when compared to the situation if the goal is to perform.

For example, if we want the sales teams to learn about the new changes to the product, then a simple course will do. But if your goal is to educate your sales team about the product changes and how this is a competitive edge for you, the approach to design will be different.


Product Training Manager: I have a new price increase course; I want all my sales people to get trained so that they can justify the price increase and sell better; also, this course has to be translated in more than 20 languages.

Assumptions: 15–20 min course, with audio and using Articulate Storyline

Budget: USD 40,000 for English plus translated into 20 languages.


What is the duration of the course? Is it one course or multiple modules?

The duration of a course will help you define the efforts involved, for example, if it is a 1 hour course, there will roughly be 45 screens with a final quiz. As it is a long course, you need to make it more engaging to retain learner attention. You need to come up with at least 8 highly interactive screens.

But if we have 5 modules of 10 min with a final quiz, the effort is less than a 1-hour course. We design the learning strategy that is scalable throughout 5 modules and hence the cost will be reduced.


HRIS Manager: We need to develop 35 modules on various topics on the HRIS tool Workday.

Assumptions: Each module will be 3–5 min long, with screen simulation showing “How Tos” No audio, using Captivate 8.

Budget: USD 30,000 for developing Watch Simulations using screen captures.


What would be the level of interactivity?

The level of interactivity plays a great role in deciding the time and cost of a course. If the course has a high level of user engagement and is a high-impact course for the learners, the cost would be higher.

High-impact learning is where we add gamification and scenario-based learning.


Senior Director Risk Management: I would like to create a high-impact crisis management course where we would like to share the importance of reporting crisis and how to escalate the issue through a tool.

Assumptions: Introduce the concept with a video of a crisis and how we can escalate it. 20-min course with multiple characters that make a scenario.

Budget: USD 8000


How quickly would you wish to rollout e-learning?

If we need to rollout e-learning quickly, there will be costs involved. A new product launch, a new software tutorial, a new regulation, a merger where a change management initiative is a must and you want all your employees to get trained quickly, there will be an increase in cost due to the quick roll out.


Senior Manager Learning & Development: We are rolling out a new software tool for our project managers. The training should be ready at the time of tool launch.

Assumptions: Simple software tutorials without audio. 10 simulations on “Frequently Asked Questions”

Budget: USD 2000


Do you have an internal team to do the design and outsource only the e-learning development?

Sometimes, organizations have internal SMEs and designers to develop the curriculum based on some set of standards; they wish to outsource only the course development part. This happens when there is a huge ongoing need to develop e-learning courses.

Some examples of industries where an internal team that understands the business and standards can quickly design courses, while the development can be outsources are the:

  • insurance sector where new products and schemes are launched
  • computer industry where there are many product launches every year

This makes it very effective for such industries to design the courses in-house and give the development to e-learning vendors.


Senior Instruction Designer: We have to develop 30 courses of 10 minutes each on Personal Insurance.

Assumption: Storyboards and all graphic assets will be provided.

Budgetary Cost: USD 22,500


Hope these scenarios gave you some idea of the costs involved in developing an e-learning course.

How can we get the best of your e-learning budgets?

Here are some tips in order to get the best return on your training investment.

  1. Be clear with the outcome that you wish to accomplish with e-learning.
  2. Discuss various options with your e-learning vendor and finalize the duration of the course, the tool to be used, and the strategies to be developed.
  3. It is always good to decide if you want to translate the courses so that you create a plan for the design even when the English course is developed.
  4. Minimize audio for simple courses.

If your industry needs that you design courses in-house, have an e-learning vendor that can develop and deliver courses to you quickly.

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