Outsourcing Training and Development – All You Need to Know

BUSINESS & MANAGEMENT, TALENT MANAGEMENT   |   5 minutes  |   January 20, 2020

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Regardless of the size or sector of your business, learning and development is fundamental to the growth of your company. Training used to be classified as a ‘nice to have’ in most businesses, but nowadays companies understand that, in order to remain competitive and sustainable, ongoing training is foundational in supporting the needs of the business.

With mounting pressure from executives to keep operational costs down, while still maintaining a focus on learning and development, businesses are increasingly choosing to outsource their training and development. According to ISG Research, the global outsourcing market amounted to $95.2 billion in 2018.1 Deloitte’s recent global outsourcing survey of more than 500 executives from leading organisations shows that outsourcing is answering challenges in both business and IT, utilising emerging technologies to drive innovation, speed to market, improved user experience, and enhanced performance.2 It’s clear that outsourcing non-core business functions is a mainstream practice, and it follows that outsourcing the learning functions of your business should be no different.

Why companies outsource training rather than develop in-house programmes

Here’s why businesses are considering outsourcing their learning and development:

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As with most companies, businesses are made up of various departments that each have their own skills and functions. The same applies to their training needs. The marketing department may need training on social media strategy, customer engagement, SEO or to learn how to use a new marketing automation application, whereas the IT team may need brushing up on the latest cybersecurity threats and best practices. Bearing in mind how niche, complex, and varied each of these training topics are, it’s unlikely that a business will have the in-house expertise required to successfully undertake training programmes for each department and skill set.

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It often happens that we ask internal technology experts to carry out training. However, they were not hired to be training experts. Widening the talent pool to outsourced technical experts who have invested in training skills gives employees access to expertise that they would not ordinarily find within their organisation.

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It can be challenging when a company is planning a company-wide upgrade or changeover to new technology, and it has a broad geographical footprint and needs to customise the training to suit role-specific functionality. Outsourcing training helps to successfully facilitate this training burst without having to hire more employees.

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It’s often less disruptive to outsource training for once-off learning and development (L&D) initiatives or temporary training events, than to pull a team’s focus away from carrying out their core duties. Outsourcing L&D means company deliverables remain in tact, while training is simultaneously carried out.

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The benefits of outsourced training for an L&D team are quality and cost. Outsourcing the skills and services required during the necessary training period offers teams access to a subject matter expert without the expensive salary commitment.

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When a project is on a tight deadline and training material needs to urgently be developed, outsourcing training content may be the answer. Most training providers are able to produce training content efficiently and can assist with rolling out the training according to your schedule.

Why outsourcing is proving to be effective for companies’ training

A recent report shows that one out of every three companies outsources their learning management system (LMS) in its entirety.9 The reasons for this include:

  • Fewer challenges.10 In-house learning programmes often come with their own set of issues that culminate in delays, time wastage, and inefficiency. Outsourcing training leverages the provider’s resources and expertise to deliver material in the quickest and most effective way. This frees up staff to continue doing what they do best: teams are more productive, learning is more efficient, and key stakeholders see value returned
  • Reinvest cost savings.11 Outsourcing training saves time, and, in a business, time is money. The time that would have been spent on developing expensive in-house training programmes can now be invested elsewhere in the business
  • Flexible contracts.12 Outsourcing by its very nature is flexible, allowing companies the option to exit a contract or change the terms without incurring crippling penalties should they not be satisfied with service delivery and outcomes

Methods of outsourced training and development

There are a number of methods for outsourced training available to help equip teams to do their jobs better.

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Having an outsourced facilitator deliver training in a classroom has its advantages, even if the course material is online.14 In a classroom, learners have the benefits of asking questions and receiving answers immediately. They can network with each other during and after the course. Since the information is available online, employees can revert to the information as and when needed. More than that, they are separated from their day-to-day demands and can focus on learning.

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Web-based training allows employees to access training material anywhere and on any internet-enabled device. The benefit is that there are a number of broad-spectrum and specialised courses available so employees can enhance their skill set under the guidance of a global expert. Since they are conducted via correspondence, employees save on travel and venue costs, and these courses are great for initiating self-directed learning.

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A blended approach to learning is a nod to the fact that very rarely does one size fit all when it comes to training. Blended learning means that more than one training method is used to train on a particular subject. Here’s why this is beneficial:

  • Researchers from the University of Iowa recently found that blended learning helps boost results, particularly amongst those who are struggling.16 Professor Jennifer Rogers, who led the research, said, “Greater than 95% of students enrolled in the blended course section earned course grades [of] C- or higher, compared with 82% in the large lecture sections and 81% in the online sections.” In addition, there was a lower drop-out rate, and fewer learners reported end-of-semester anxiety
  • A recent pilot of the blended approach by the University of Tennessee Department of Education showed that the overall results showed a positive relationship between incorporation of the blended learning pilot and an improvement in test scores17

The benefits of e-learning

One of the largest hidden costs of training is employees being removed from their core duties to attend training, which is why e-learning shows real value by reducing the amount of time someone needs to be away from work to be trained:18

More than that, online learning is enabled by the digital revolution, which means content can be accessed, consumed, discussed, and shared by anyone, in any location.19 Additionally, unlike classroom-based learning, online learning allows you to access the training an unlimited number of times. Another great benefit of e-learning is that content can be updated and distributed immediately, meaning you have access to the very latest training content.

When it comes to deciding on how to outsource your training and development in your business, there are many possible ways of doing so – from classroom, to online, to a blended approach. However, the benefits of outsourcing prove that the overall approach to addressing your learning and development needs should be to look outside of your company. In this way, your organisation can afford to stay abreast of advances in technology, tactics, and innovation.

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  • 1 Reynolds, P. (Mar, 2019). ‘ISG Momentum® market trends & insights 2018 annual report’. Retrieved from ISG Research.
  • 2 (2018). ‘The Deloitte global outsourcing survey 2018’. Retrieved from Deloitte.
  • 3 Turner, A. (Mar, 2019). ‘Seven compelling reasons to outsource learning and development’. Retrieved from Training Industry.
  • 4 Patel, D. (Jul, 2107). ‘The pros and cons of outsourcing’. Retrieved from Forbes.
  • 5 Patel, D. (Jul, 2107). ‘The pros and cons of outsourcing’. Retrieved from Forbes.
  • 6 Turner, A. (Mar, 2019). ‘Seven compelling reasons to outsource learning and development’. Retrieved from Training Industry.
  • 7 Patel, D. (Jul, 2107). ‘The pros and cons of outsourcing’. Retrieved from Forbes.
  • 8 Turner, A. (Mar, 2019). ‘Seven compelling reasons to outsource learning and development’. Retrieved from Training Industry.
  • 9 (2017). ‘2017 training industry report’. Retrieved from Training Mag.
  • 10 Behan, S. (Mar, 2018). ‘The win-win of outsourcing learning and development’. Retrieved from eLearning Industry.
  • 11 (2018). ‘The Deloitte global outsourcing survey 2018’. Retrieved from Deloitte.
  • 12 Buia, C. et al. (Aug, 2018). ‘The risks and rewards of outsourcing’. Retrieved from McKinsey.
  • 13 Mickelson, D. (Jan, 2018). ‘10 advantages of instructor-led training (ILT) for maximising development skills’. Retrieved from InterTech.
  • 14 Andriotis, N. (Jan, 2019). ‘7 reasons to include instructor lead training in your online training’. Retrieved from eLearning Industry.
  • 15 (Nd). ‘The most effective training techniques’. Retrieved from Training Today. Accessed 10 May 2019.
  • 16 (Jun, 2018). ‘A mix of in-person and online learning may boost student performance, reduce anxiety’. Retrieved from Science Daily.
  • 17 (Apr, 2018). ‘2016-17 blended learning pilot report’. Retrieved from TN.
  • 18 (Nd). ‘The benefits of e-learning’. Retrieved from 2020 Project Management. Accessed 10 May 2019.
  • 19 Gupta, S. (Nov, 2017). ‘9 benefits of e-learning for students’. Retrieved from eLearning Industry.