Outsourcing your learning and development

Outsourcing to specialist companies is not a new concept. Over the past twenty years many companies worldwide have outsourced different functions. Examples of outsourced activities are administrative duties, learning and development, call centres and helpdesk/IT support.

Today, however, outsourcing is about ensuring business needs - improved outcomes, lower costs and higher standards in a critically competitive economic environment. These needs are met through strong relationships with the right providers who must be capable of delivering high quality products and services to meet business objectives. The specialised company that handles the outsourced work would, in an ideal world, be streamlined with world-class capabilities and access to leading edge tools; technology and innovation.

Most organisations recognise the importance of learning and development in both maximising the potential of staff and maintaining a competitive edge in the marketplace. So why would a company wish to outsource a department like learning and development; a function that is home to the company’s best practice knowledge?

Why outsource learning and development?

  • Cost reduction – cheaper than retaining an in-house team.
  • Flexible resource options may be available -  including management of peaks and troughs, part-time working and a blend of specialist skills available in a range of individuals.
  • Engagement with a specialist company – innovation and access to latest technology and practice.
  • Access to a pool of professional consultants who have deliberately chosen this field of practice.
  • Established methodologies and tools to support rapid development and efficiency.
  • Sustainable solution without the risk of lost intellectual property through staff attrition.

Guaranteed Return on Investment (ROI) and cost benefit

  • An outsource provider will be focussed on ensuring a positive ROI to their clients training budgets. This can be measured and tracked based on agreed deliverables and guaranteed outcomes.
  • Deliberate cost reduction through the provider being able to lead innovation and rapid development capability.
  • Flexible resourcing will allow for increased capacity for peak demands – say for example a project, and then resources are reduced for business as usual requirements (peak and trough resourcing).
  • Toolkits and structured methodologies supplied by the outsource provider eliminates the need for internal investment and guarantees a sustainable long term solution.
  • Resources provided with all the necessary capability and skills – the outsource provider bears the cost of training and development of people which eliminates the cost of training an internal team.

Outsource professionals will come armed with the methodologies, toolkits and skills required to deliver exceptional results and should also be able to tap into the expertise and the knowledge of a significant global workforce of expert practitioners.

What to look for in a provider?

When selecting a provider, the author would recommend looking to a global organisation that has a significant investment in researching and developing latest techniques and technologies in their field of expertise.

Common pitfalls and failures

  • Inadequate resource and skills,
  • Language barriers,
  • Lack of knowledge and understanding of the business,
  • Customer service failure resulting in loss of market share,
  • Slow response, and
  • Lack of true business and knowledge integration.

These barriers can all be overcome if the outsource provider provides a sound cultural and skills fit for the organisation.  The outsource capability must be embedded and onsite with the client organisation. It should be sufficiently knowledgeable of the client organisation to ensure optimum delivery of service.  



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