Should You Outsource E-Learning Development or Develop In-House?
Once you have decided to create a new e-learning course and you’ve decided that e-learning is the preferred delivery method, the next step is to choose from developing in-house or outsourcing to a professional e-learning developer.
There is a range of tools and methods that you can use to create the e-learning course in-house. On the flip side, getting the course professionally developed offers a wide range of benefits. Which is the best option?
When you do a search on this topic, you mostly find articles that offer the pros and cons of both approaches. The one thing that stands out when looking at these pros and cons is that many of the advantages of developing in-house are either not accurate or can be effectively mitigated if you chose professional development instead.
Perceived Advantages of Developing E-Learning Courses In-House
There are three advantages that are most frequently mentioned in favour of in-house e-learning development:
- Achieve full customisation
- Reduces costs
- Keeps your data confidential
It is worthwhile exploring each in more detail:
Achieve Full Customisation
The argument in relation to customisation is that people inside your organisation will have a better understanding of the company, what you are trying to achieve, and your requirements.
This is undoubtedly true, as it is close to impossible for a third-party e-learning developer to know more about your organisation than the people who work in it. However, framing this as a clear advantage for e-learning is not always true.
In many situations, it is beneficial to have a fresh set of eyes look at the topic. A professional e-learning developer will also bring experience from other projects, and they can use that experience to improve the completed course.
Hiring an e-learning developer that has experience in your industry will get the best results. It is also helpful if the developer has a good understanding of your customers and market in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and/or internationally.
The point, however, is that it wouldn’t be right to assume that an in-house team will do a better job of giving you the precise e-learning course and content that you want. Full, high-quality, and very specific customisation is also possible with an outsourced e-learning developer.
The argument with this proposed advantage of in-house e-learning development is that it costs less because you don’t have to pay a fee to a professional developer. It sounds straightforward, but the reality doesn’t work out like this for a lot of organisations.
This is because there are multiple costs that you will still incur when you develop an e-learning course in-house. This includes application and platform licences, as well as the costs incurred by assigning internal members of staff to work on the project.
The big issue comes when you don’t have the right skills in-house. Without the right skills, you will also need to invest in training, whether that is formalised training or on-the-job training, where your in-house team learns as it goes.
All these things together significantly narrow the financial difference between developing an e-learning course in-house and hiring a professional e-learning developer.
Then there is the question of return on investment. ROI is usually the best metric to use when looking at the financials of an e-learning development project.
A professional e-learning developer will typically deliver a better return on investment. Why? A professional e-learning developer will usually have a deeper understanding of how people learn, in addition to instructional design and the various strategies and methods you can use to achieve the best results with your new e-learning course.
So, there is a valid argument about cost being an advantage for choosing to go in-house, but for the best ROI, outsourcing is the way to go.
This point only applies in some situations, but it is an important consideration. It is for training courses that contain sensitive and confidential company information that you want to remain secure. Sharing it with a third-party organisation such as an e-learning developer can increase the risk.
There are steps you can take to mitigate this risk, including putting in place a non-disclosure agreement. It is also worthwhile vetting the e-learning developer’s security processes to give you confidence that your data is being protected.
What About the Other Advantages of Outsourcing E-Learning Development?
In addition to the points mentioned above, there is a range of other advantages when you choose to outsource e-learning development. Those advantages include:
- Expertise – an e-learning developer will have a wide range of skills on its team, from design and programming skills to instructional design and training expertise. By outsourcing e-learning development, you will get access to these skills.
- Fast turnaround times – experience and expertise enable professional e-learning developers to create new courses with minimal delays. Of course, not all developers are the same, so it is worth checking the track record of the company you choose. However, the process should be shorter than if you developed the course in-house.
- More effective internal resource allocation – by outsourcing e-learning development, you can allocate your internal resources on other value-adding tasks, i.e., the internal resources that would have been involved in the development project.
- High-quality training course – the quality of the finished course is a good measurement of success. Professionally developed e-learning courses more often than not have a higher quality appearance and they perform better.
Investing in Your Company’s Training Through E-Learning
E-learning delivers considerable benefits to organisation training strategies. To ensure you maximise the success you get from the training courses you create, outsourcing e-learning development is usually the best option.