Are you contemplating outsourcing your training function?
If you are, here are some high-level considerations:
? Which training services and
technology should you outsource and which should you keep in-house?
? What are your outsourcing
? How will you identify and
evaluate training outsourcing consultants and companies?
The reasons for outsourcing training haven’t changed much
in over a decade. Cost cutting. Focusing on core business. Mitigating risk.
Accessing needed skills.
Advances in technology have provided even more reasons to
prompt companies to rethink their training games. In recent years, cloud-based
learning solution providers reshaped the market. Nowadays, many high-growth
companies are just as likely — perhaps more likely — to use a corporate
learning portal hosted by Grovo for Organizations, Udemy for Business, or Skillshare for Organizations as they are to implement
their own in-house learning management system (LMS).
and Development Tasks
Broadly, outsourcers can support your company by
providing virtual-lead training, online self-paced learning, and
classroom-based instruction. Keep in mind though, these companies can
contribute much more than just training. They can provide everything from
administrative tasks to strategic planning. Here are some examples of tasks
that can be outsourced.
? Assessing skills gaps
? Developing training
? Designing curriculums and
? Designing certification
programs and assessment criteria
? Providing applications that
support and encourage learning
? Implementing and
? Managing training content
? Event management and
logistics (for classroom-based instruction)
? Setting benchmarks to measure
? Providing help desk services
(single point of contact for learner requests)
? Providing learning analytics
? Training related to
government regulations (e.g. safety or environmental regulations)
? Training related to
employment laws (e.g. equal employment opportunity laws)
Front vs. Back Office
A distinction to help you consider which tasks to
outsource is to think about training in terms of the traditional “back office”
and “front office” split. This divide, which usually applies to staff who
support processes compared to those who deal directly with customers, can be
applied to learners.
In short, back back office training functions include
tasks related to supporting learners, such as regulatory filings and managing
learning systems/portals. Front office training functions include face-to-face
activities, such as conducting training and working with business teams to
develop and deliver training. One approach is to favor outsourcing back office
tasks, thus freeing up staff to carry out the more fulfilling and productive
work of skilling up staff and developing internal talent.
Top U.S. Training
Since 2008, Training Industry, a trade magazine and
training portal, has released an annual global top 20 list of the best training
outsourcing companies. The following U.S. companies appeared on the 2015 list:
TrainingIndustry.com Profile and
Enterprise Learning Solutions
Checklist for Training
Though comprehensive and from a reputable source, this
list is just one way to evaluate the pros and cons of a potential relationship
with a training outsourcing company. Also consider investigating the following:
? Are their costs fixed or
? When other clients have gone
over budget, how did they respond?
? Are there any hidden or
Deliverables and deadlines
? Are their deliverables and
? Is each deliverable linked to
? What happens when a
deliverable or deadline isn’t met?
Reliability and references
? What industry affiliations do
? Are they members of
professional training organizations?
? Are they an audited/certified
? Does the client list on their
website have more details than just links to their clients?
? What credible client
references can they provide?
Project experience and
? Have they worked on projects
? Do they have other clients in
? Are there videos online of
their trainers that you can watch?
? What is their problem
? What kind of insurance do
? Do they backup your learning
Is Outsourcing Right
People, Consider Insourcing
While this article focuses on outsourcing, it’s important
to evaluate other options. Before relying on consultants to manage and deliver
your corporate training, consider insourcing it. In-house trainers bring many
benefits to your organization.
? Extensive business knowledge — full-time internal
trainers are often more knowledgeable about the current, real-life problems
your company faces
? Keep talent internal — maintaining dedicated
learning and development staff on the payroll prevents your company relying primarily
on external experts
? Control — insourcing means maintaining full command of your
? Avoid the “outsider” problem — some staff might not
appreciate consultants informing them how to learn new skills and be better at
Technology, Consider Keeping It In-House
There are dozens of do-it-yourself training and
development platforms based on open-source software that can be installed for
free. For instance, GetApp lists 11 open-source LMSs and 14that have a freemium pricing
model. Also, Capterra lists what it considers to be the
best open source and free LMSs.
There are some tradeoffs with free, open-source LMSs.
Some cons include less functionality, less customer support, and the need for
internal IT expertise to implement and manage the system.
Free, open-source LMSs are not the only way to keep
learning technology in-house. There are hundreds of corporate
learning content management systems and LMSs. Some are off-the-rack and
suitable for various industries. Others are customizable and made for specific
industries. We recommend reading the reviews and using the filters on the
following aggregators to find the right learning solution: Capterra (300+ LMSs), GetApp (50+ LMSs), and SoftwareInsider(300+ LMSs).
The author used the following resources to research and
write this article.
? ADP TotalSource, “TotalSource and Co-Employment,” archive
? Bersin, “Training Outsourcing: What Works — The Economics of
Training Outsourcing Training Technology and Operations,” archive
? Capterra, J.P. Medved, “The Top 8 Free/Open Source LMSs,” archive
? Detroit Free Press, Nathan Bomey, “5 reasons Why GM Believes ‘Insourcing’ More Effective
? Elearning Industry, Aditya Pullagurla, “Outsourcing eLearning: How to check and evaluate
? Entrepreneur, Jason Kulpa, “Forget Outsourcing, Startups Should Hire the Best
In-House Employees,” archive
? Ethan Allen Workforce Solutions, “Training & Development,” archive
? Expertus, “Services,”
? GetApp, learning management systems that are open source, archive
? GetApp, learning management systems with a freemium pricing model, archive
? GP Strategies, “Learning Management Systems Help Desk Services,” archive
? GP Strategies, “Learning Solutions Overview,” archive
? GP Strategies, “Learning and Training Outsourcing,” archive
? Judith Hale, “Outsourcing Training and Development: Factors for Success,” archive
? Staff Source, “Professional Employment HR Services,” archive
? Training Industry, Doug Harward, “10 Reasons Companies are Outsourcing Training in Today’s
? Training Industry, “2015 Top 20 Training Outsourcing Companies,” archive
? Training Industry, “2015 Training Outsourcing Watch List,” archive
? Training Industry, Doug Harward, “The Market for Training Outsourcing is Changing,” archive
? Trimeritus eLearning Solutions, Don McIntosh, “Vendors of Learning Management and E-learning Products,”archive
? University of Geneva, EduTech Wiki, “Learning Management System,” archive