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E-learning Outsourcing – Make the Right Choice

E-learning Outsourcing - Make the Right Choice

A pharmaceutical company wanted to create an e-learning course on product training for its sales force. They were not sure whether to develop the course in-house or outsource it. Are you in the same situation? Are you taking baby steps in e-learning and still undecided whether to develop your courses in-house or outsource them? Are you familiar with the outsourcing options available in e-learning?

To help you, this blog will take you through the process of developing an e-learning course. It will help you decide whether to develop the courses in-house or outsource them, along with helping you decide which part of the effort to outsource. . You will also gain insights on the business benefits of outsourcing.

Here is a brief overview of the e-learning course development process

Before initiating the eLearning process, a training needs analysis is done to find out the learning gaps the course must fill, and the jobs or tasks employees need to perform after completing the course.

Developing an e-learning course involves the following steps which, if followed correctly, will bring optimum results.

Design: E-learning strategy and a detailed content outline are prepared after analyzing the learners and the training content, and aligning the content with the learning objectives.

Development: The storyboard is developed, and the visual and interactive elements are finalized. The page layout, GUI, and multimedia elements are completed and integrated in the course. A prototype is developed for approval by the client or stakeholder. Once the approval is obtained, course development is scaled up.

Translation: If the course has to be translated into other languages, it is done at this stage. It is generally a six-step process that does not vary greatly – regardless of whether the course is developed in-house or outsourced.

LMS Hosting: The final stage is hosting the course on an LMS or other learning portals. The design of the LMS depends on the structure and branding of the organization and the LMS design has to be flexible to allow for customization and tweaking.

Now that you are aware of the e-learning development process, here is some advice on what you can outsource at each stage and what to look out for in an e-Learning vendor:


Outsource if… What to look for in an e-learning developer
  1. Your team is already working to capacity and your learning design standards are fixed.
  2. You have sound subject matter expertise, but no learning design capabilities
  1. Proficiency in training and learning
  2. Learning design expertise
  3. In-house instructional designers


Outsource if… What to look for in an e-learning developer
  1. Your instructional design standards are not in place.
  2. You need graphically rich interactivities or learning objects to enrich the course.
  1. Expertise in the development of graphical components
  2. Expertise in authoring tools


Outsource if… What to look for in an e-learning developer
  1. Your organization lacks professional translators and narrators.
  1. In-house translation and recording professionals
  2. Good domain/subject knowledge
  3. Adept in languages the course needs to be translated into


Outsource if… What to look for in an e-learning developer
  1. You lack a a technical team.
  2. Employees do not have sufficient LMS administration knowledge or the time to do it.
  1. Specialization in using technology for learning
  2. Technical expertise in LMS administration and support
  3. Good customer service

Now that you are aware of the e-learning process, and when and what to outsource, let us look at some scenarios that will help you take a decision.

When new to e-learning

If you are new to e-learning, first start by promoting the cause of e-learning among your employees. Then start with only one course such as a compliance training course. Outsource the e-learning for faster implementation.

Case study: An electronics company with a presence in 30 countries across 4 continents wanted to roll out a mandatory compliance course to its 200,000 employees. They outsourced it to an e-learning developer and were able to roll out 8 compliance courses in 3 months. The benefits they gained were:

  • Lesser training/travel costs
  • Faster global roll-out
  • Met compliance requirements set by regulatory bodies
  • Faster learning by learners

When you want to scale up your learning initiative

Start by blending e-learning with all your training initiatives. Set up an in-house team of 4-5 people. Make pre-classroom training mandatory to teach the basics through e-learning and bring all learners to the same level. Invest in authoring tools for quick turnaround of and choose an open source LMS.

Case study: A medical equipment manufacturing company wanted to create 22 basic e-learning courses for pre and post-classroom training for 45,000 learners/ distributors. It hosted the course on Moodle, an open source LMS. The benefits it gained include:

  • Reduced classroom training time and cost by 30%
  • Decreased trainers’ efforts
  • Provided structured final assessment and certification through the LMS

In-house or outsource?

When it comes to deciding whether to develop e-learning in-house or outsource, remember that good e-learning design and development is a complex process. Assess your strengths and weaknesses in different aspects of the process. This will help you decide whether to outsource the whole e-learning development or part of it. Remember your decision should benefit your business.

A ground rule would be to follow the Pareto principle - Create the critical and important 20 percent in-house, and outsource the rest.

Create the critical and important 20 percent in-house, and outsource the rest

This pie chart is an illustration of the Pareto principle in e-learning development.

Following the Pareto principle will help you take the right outsourcing decision that will also benefit your business.

View E-book on E-learning Outsourcing: Selecting the Right E-learning Vendor


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