To outsource or tackle the task in house? That’s one of the most difficult questions organizations face when creating an eLearning course. You must determine whether it’s more cost-efficient and productive to do it yourself or to outsource the eLearning project to a talented team of eLearning professionals. Unfortunately, that’s not the only quandary you’ll have to contend with. In fact, here are the top 5 e-Learning outsourcing obstacles, as well as tips to overcome them.
1. Do They Have Enough Expertise?
One of the major e-Learning outsourcing obstacles is whether or not the eLearning content provider of choice has enough knowledge and understanding of the subject matter. The eLearning company may have the technological know-how that you are looking for. But do they have Subject Matter Experts who are well-versed on the core ideas and concepts? Evaluate the eLearning company’s portfolio to see if there are similar eLearning projects in your niche, or ask them directly about their experience in the field. Furthermore, you may want to see the individual resumes of eLearning professionals who are part of their team. Pay careful attention to their skills, strengths, and experience levels. You can also request a demo of what the potential eLearning content provider can do for you before going forward with a partnership. If possible, set up a meeting with the eLearning company to alleviate any concerns you may have. Prepare a list of questions beforehand so that you can cover the key points and don’t hesitate to ask for references.
2. Can They Meet Your Needs?
Creating eLearning courses in house provides you with control over the creativity in design, etc. However, you may not have the luxury of time, money or manpower to take this route. In which case, it’s best to clearly outline your requirements in regards to eLearning course design, content, delivery time frame, etc. It’s highly recommended that you agree on regular deadlines or milestones, which allows you to provide input or feedback. For example, make suggestions about the layout of graphic design elements. These “progress checks” also give you the opportunity to ensure that everything is going according to plan and that the eLearning content provider is still in tune with your company’s vision and desired outcomes. That way, you will avoid potential problems that may arise if you wait until the very end to offer your input. At the same time, you need to remember that the eLearning company will have their own working culture that should be respected. Therefore, it is good to find common ground so that everyone in the working relationship is satisfied.
3. Will They Be Able To Keep Things Confidential?
Another objection often voiced by companies is the release of sensitive information outside of the company. This can be easily overcome by ensuring that you have legal non-disclosure agreements between you and the eLearning vendor. You can also request that the same team members work with your company throughout the entire eLearning project to avoid the unnecessary exposure of this information. Additionally, verify that their software and servers are secure. For example, are they using a Learning Management System with built-in encryption, or is your sensitive data vulnerable to online attacks?
4. Is It Possible To Stay on Budget?
Another major e-Learning outsourcing obstacles is that e-Learning outsourcing runs the risk of unexpected costs. If you are not careful when creating a detailed budget for your eLearning project, you may face unexpected fees. From the onset, determine what you will be billed and request an itemized estimate. Also, keep your communication lines open to know that progress is being made and ensure that your investment is not being wasted. This can bring peace of mind to your accounting department, while also making the eLearning vendor accountable for their time and resources. In addition, it may be wise to agree on a back-up plan in the event of unexpected setbacks. For instance, the eLearning project requires more Subject Matter Experts involved than they originally thought, or they need additional eLearning authoring tools to create new eLearning activities based on your feedback.
5. Can They Clearly Communicate?
e-Learning outsourcing companies these days are often remotely based in other countries. As a result, tasks may be assigned to non-native speakers. Even if the eLearning company is highly reputable, you may still come across communication challenges or face cultural differences in work expectations. Keeping a written record of all communication can help you keep track of agreed upon deadlines, deliverables, and the like. Follow up any face-to-face or virtual meetings with written confirmation of what was agreed upon or discussed during that meeting. This helps to ensure that there are no misunderstandings from either party. Lastly, request a “point of contact” who can keep you updated and address your concerns along the way. For instance, an eLearning Project Manager who is able to meet with you on a weekly basis to share updates or ask for your input. For more involved eLearning projects, it may be necessary to have more than one eLearning Project Managers, just in case the first one is unavailable or busy with other eLearning projects.
There are a number of potential e-Learning outsourcing obstacles. However, they can be avoided through open communication, organization, and planning. Before agreeing to work with a particular eLearning company, do your homework to determine if they’re a good match for your organization. Do they know about the latest eLearning trends? Do they have all the resources and experience you need? Remember, your professional relationship depends on making your needs and expectations known from the beginning of the eLearning project. Do not wait until it is too late to create a successful eLearning course.
Are you ready to enlist the aid of an experienced eLearning vendor? Download our Free eBook: The Ultimate Guide To e-Learning Outsourcing to explore the benefits of eLearning outsourcing and learn tips on how to ensure that your outsourced eLearning project will run smoothly.
Originally published at elearningindustry.com on June 28, 2017.