The make-or-buy decision, as defined in the Encyclopedia of Management, is the act of making a strategic choice between producing an item internally (in-house) or buying it externally (from an outside supplier). The buy side of the decision is also referred to as outsourcing.
Let us begin by looking at the various areas of outsourcing in the eLearning context. Most outsourcing of an eLearning solution falls into one of the three areas: Content, Technology, and Services.
Content here not only includes broad business and technology content such as online courses in Leadership, HR or soft skills and courses on application training, but also includes deeper vertical content solutions in competency areas such as product, process, and sales training in specialized industries.
However, I’d like to share a caveat here for the technology related area: When trying to get technology requirements in place, do not settle for solutions that have an LMS component attached to a regular ERP application. Such solutions, though seemingly attractive, can quickly become an administration and maintenance nightmare.
When it comes to content, most organizations make the mistake of purchasing a huge library of catalogue courses and deploying these across the organization en masse. This scenario is equivalent to giving employees the keys to a library and asking them to go and pick whatever books work for them. Most learners find it overwhelming to be offered so many options. And besides, each business is unique, so the off the shelf solutions sometimes may not fit your business context perfectly.
While it is true that there are some good off-the-shelf solutions for a few areas of your need, most training requirements need tailor-made solutions. This is where custom courseware can come to your rescue. Next, it is a matter of deciding whether to develop this custom courseware in-house or outsource this requirement to eLearning companies whose core competence is the design and development of courseware.