Smart-sourcing 101: How to outsource digital learning and maintain total control…


“Do you employ an internal L&D team and still outsource eLearning development?”

If the answer is YES, you’ve fallen into the same trap that many smart, forward-thinking businesses have done. At CommsLearning we think smart-sourcing could be the solution to your outsourcing woes. Instead of just handing the project over, bring an agency partner in to fill capacity gaps and help your team upskill. It’s about balance; finding the right mix of in-house production and partnering with agencies to respond to the huge growth in eLearning requirements whilst still maintaining control.

Here’s why at CommsLearning we think swapping traditional outsourcing for smart-sourcing is the future of eLearning for many businesses:

The outsourcing conundrum:
· You already know that eLearning is a critical part of blended learning so needs proper investment.

· You’re aware that it costs more to outsource it to a specialist eLearning agency than using in-house

· You know there are some great people in-house who were recruited in part to develop eLearning.

But you continue to outsource the large-scale eLearning projects to agencies for large sums of money, leaving your internal team to handle the more mundane courses, often with a fraction of the budget of time and resources.

This outsourcing model made perfect sense when eLearning was new and these were specialist skills. Plus, the sheer volume of courses required by today’s businesses has dramatically increased over the past five years and thanks to COVID-19 it seems to still be going up.

What’s wrong with just outsourcing the big stuff?

· It doesn’t develop your people. It’s true that in many cases, outsourcing to a big agency give you a better course in a quicker timeframe. But your team need experience in developing digital learning, and we know from 70:20:10 that we learn from experience, so why do we ignore it for our L&D teams?

· It can damage continuity. Too much outsourcing can lead to a disjointed feeling across your digital learning. A bit like a cut and shut car, with the front end of a Ford and the back of a Renault, it will always feel like it’s been welded together. If you’re going to outsource (which will always make sense in certain cases), make sure you maintain control of the strategy/concept to ensure it fits well within the other training wrapped around it.

When does outsourcing work?

· If resources are short in house. Extreme time pressures, teams working at capacity or a significant volume of work are all good reasons to outsource, but once again, it’s important to remain in control of the content, even if you aren’t building it.

· When you require something different. Certain projects justify or demand something a little different either in terms of the approach or perhaps the style. This is always best handled by an external fresh pair of eyes.

· New technologies. Perhaps you’re looking at piloting a new learning technology. If so, it’s smart to learn from others’ experience and then evaluate if you want to bring those skills in-house once you’ve judged the success of the technology/project.

So what’s the answer? Start smart-sourcing & find your agency partner.

5 steps to ‘Smart-source’ and maintain a balance

If you feel now is the right time to start seriously investing and focusing on finding your new Smart-Sourcing partner then START TODAY.

Begin by following the 5 simple steps listed below. At CommsLearning we’ve worked with many customers who are on this journey and truly believe this approach is the right approach for both businesses and the industry as a whole.

Let’s share more, work closer and grow together.

1. Plan– If you don’t have a Digital Learning Strategy – Write one (We can help with this!). Within this you should detail what skills you intend to have in-house and by when. Obviously a phased approach makes the most sense to achieve the best result with minimal risk.

2. Recruit – Based on your Digital Learning Strategy, identify key skills, gaps and where appropriate recruit experienced specialists to fill those gaps.

3. Train – Once you have identified the right people in your internal team, invest in them. As we all know this shouldn’t necessarily mean a course, but perhaps learning through experience. Ask your eLearning partner if you can shadow them on the next project (We are always happy to take people under our wing and work alongside them on their project!).

4. Organise– One of the keys to developing eLearning quickly and to a high quality is organisation. Learn from the experts about how best to plan organise and run your eLearning projects.

5. Partner – Find a friendly eLearning agency (Like us!) that believes in enabling your people to achieve more in digital learning in-house. Partner with this agency and start working alongside in a way that there is a genuine skills exchange which will rapidly build your team’s skills & experience to the same level.

About CommsLearning

CommsLearning has an established reputation for being that trusted partner and extension to your inhouse team, working closely with you to help you achieve more.

We’ve been working remotely for years (and consider ourselves experts when it comes to running projects in virtual remote teams). Our team of Instructional Designers, Script Writers, Graphic Designers & Animators would love the opportunity to meet with you (Virtually of course!) to see how we could plug into your team to help with your next Digital Learning project.

CommsLearning is a valued Industry Partner of the eLN. You can contact CommsLearning by email or via the website