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In-House vs. Outsourced Learning and Development: Everything You Need To Know

Large companies spent an average of $1.5 million on outsourcing learning and development (L&D) strategies in 2019. Is this cost worth it if developing L&D programs in-house could cost less?

When stuck at the crossroads between developing L&D in-house or outsourcing, there are pros and cons to each. Below are the most common benefits for in-house and outsourced L&D. 

In-House L&D Pros:

  • More Control Over Development
  • Update Content Conveniently
  • Manage Costs More Effectively
  • Safeguard Highly Confidential Data

Outsourcing L&D Pros:

  • Access to Learning and Design Experts
  • No Long-Term Commitment to Developers
  • Faster Turnaround Time for Development

Over the next decade, L&D will be the most important and innovative department for the most profitable organizations. It’s proven that organizations with an innovative culture of learning perform higher, attract more talented employees, and have higher levels of customer satisfaction.

With its increased importance, L&D is becoming more and more central to an organization’s culture and success. Should you outsource your L&D program, or create a program in-house?

In this article, we’ll identify the importance of L&D, pros and cons of in-house vs. outsourced L&D, and explore how developing a L&D program with Roundtable works. 

Why is L&D Important?

L&D is important because it aligns employee goals and performance with that of the organization. L&D is essential for the following reasons:

  • Defines an organization’s identity, operations, and long-term goals.
  • Helps retain and re-skill the existing workforce, leading to higher employee retention rates and a competitive advantage.
  • Reduces costs and time associated with hiring new employees.
  • Creates a workforce that strives to apply the skills they’ve learned and excel in their position. 

The fundamental way for employees to achieve goals is through L&D opportunities. Learning should be a continuous event that the entire organization is a part of. Organizations that upskill employees and take L&D seriously are more competitive, agile, and create higher performing employees. 

What is In-House L&D? 

Developing L&D in-house means that an organization designs L&D programs with its own resources and internal team. Organizations who develop internal training programs typically have an in-house team or hire employees specifically for developmental roles.

Common positions for in-house L&D teams are Project Managers, Instructional Designers, Visual Designers, and Courseware Developers. Each position has its own unique set of responsibilities for planning and initiating the L&D program. For example, Instructional Designers are experts in both education and technology that develop curriculum and learning programs, while Project Managers keep programs on task, under budget, and within scope. 

Increased Demand for In-House L&D Experts

The demand for internal L&D experts is projected to expand as organizations develop and introduce new technologies into their training programs. The job outlook for internal L&D professionals is expected to grow 9% from 2019 to 2029, which is an additional 28,200 positions.

Over the next decade, L&D specialists will be tasked with modifying in-house training methods to better appeal to a new generation of workers whom technology is a part of daily life. Access to technical expertise in-house is becoming more and more in demand and valuable for organizations unable to outsource.  

Read More: Training Your Remote Workforce: 5 Tips For Success

In-House L&D Benefits

  • More Control Over The Development Process — In-house L&D involves developers who have a solid understanding of organizational needs. An in-house L&D team includes more long-term employees interested in the final program outcome.
  • Update Content Conveniently — Changes and updates to L&D content can be made faster and easier with an in-house L&D team. Solutions are generated more efficiently because developers know the challenges the organization is facing first-hand. 
  • Manage Costs More Effectively — L&D performed in-house can often be more cost effective if it’s already incorporated into the organization’s budget. 
  • Confidentiality — In-house development avoids sharing confidential data to an external company. 

Disadvantages of In-House L&D

  • High Cost — Although some experts believe in-house L&D is cheaper, others find it to be more costly. For organizations without an in-house L&D team, hiring a development team can be expensive. The in-house team will need proper software tools, authoring tools, audio and video editing tools, and more. These tools and the licensing costs that come with them can be expensive.
  • Time — In-house L&D takes planning, effort, and time to form and train a team. Some organizations can’t afford to dedicate their time to in-house L&D efforts. 

What is Outsourced L&D?

Outsourcing L&D efforts means that an organization collaborates with an outside partner to create a L&D program. Outsourcing is common for organizations that don’t have an in-house L&D team and are lacking in skills needed to develop a L&D program.

Outsourced L&D programs can be produced in a variety of modalities, including virtual instructor-led training (VILT), eLearning, or a blended approach. Outsourcing often provides more options for organizations interested in emerging technology solutions. Immersive learning modalities, like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), typically aren’t readily available for in-house teams to work with. 

How To Find A Trusted Partner

A common disadvantage to outsourced L&D is that there can be a disconnect between the organization and the vendor. To overcome this hurdle, it’s important to comprehensively research and understand your outsourced L&D partner. 

You can ensure that your learning partner is trustworthy by:

  • Examining their portfolio
  • Asking pricing questions upfront
  • Researching case studies
  • Finding reviews and ratings

Finding the best outsourcing partner can be a hassle, but by exploring the areas listed above, you can find the best development partner for you. A potential partner should be able to help you think through every detail of your L&D plan and point out other helpful strategies. 

Benefits of Outsourcing L&D

  • Access to Experts — Outsourcing L&D efforts grants access to specialized experts who have a strong background in training, instructional design, authoring tools, and more. These experts know the trends and can advise organizations on how they’d fit within training requirements.
  • No Long-Term Commitment — Outsourced L&D brings in an expert on a project-to-project basis, therefore avoiding any long-term commitment with a development team. 
  • Faster Turnaround Time for Development — Depending on your partner, outsourced L&D can have a faster turnaround time and quicker development compared to in-house development. 

Cons of L&D Outsourcing

  • Greater Time Commitment — The major disadvantage of outsourcing L&D is that it involves taking time to onboard a new partner and get them to work on projects that align with the organization’s mission. Organizations have to dedicate more time to teaching an external team.
  • Disconnect with Developers — Less collaboration, more physical distance, and time zone differences are major drawbacks to outsourced L&D. Unless it’s a regional partner, some outsourcing partners can be across the country or even the globe. 

What Does A Roundtable Partnership Look Like?

Outsourcing L&D programs can be a tricky process. If you outsource your L&D program, you have many options for finding a partner. 

Each organization develops L&D programs differently. Specifically at Roundtable, we take several steps to ensure a collaborative partnership that delivers measurable results. A partnership with Roundtable looks like this:

  • Quick Start — This initial step helps your organization centralize its L&D needs. By filling out this form, you can determine topics you’d like to cover, modalities you’re interested in utilizing, your budget range, and project timeline. 
  • Consultation — After contacting us, Roundtable will schedule a consultation. This step involves learning and technology experts, including Project Managers, Instructional Designers, and Developers. This step identifies your organization’s L&D interests and explores modalities you may be interested in utilizing over a phone or video call.
  • Conduct a Training Needs Analysis — The next step in partnering with Roundtable is to execute a Training Needs Analysis. This step determines your organization’s training needs related to a particular skill or process by pinpointing training deficiencies and generating potential solutions.
  • Rollout the Program — After development and quality testing, you can finally kick off your L&D program. At this point, your learners can embark on their L&D journey.
  • Performance Check-Ins — Once the program is rolled out, Roundtable will help ensure that the program is following its intended goals. Check-ins make sure that the course is instructionally sound, functional, and benefiting your workforce.

No organization is the same in terms of their partnership and development process. Regardless of who you partner with, a partnership with clear cut goals will lead your L&D program down the right path.

To Develop In-House Or Outsource? That Is The Question. 

Exploring both in-house L&D vs. outsource L&D in the context of what works best for your organization should help you make an informed decision. Both come with their pros and cons, but it’s up to you to decide what would work best. 

Now it’s time to ask yourself: “Should I outsource L&D or develop in-house?”

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