Managed Learning Services To Resolve Complexities Of Learning And Development Activities

Managed Learning Services And L&D
Summary: Global multinational companies widely outsource Learning and Development (L&D) activities; however, as the extent of outsourcing has scaled up, the difficulties involved in managing multiple service providers have increased. This article focuses on risk mitigation.

Centralizing The L&D Functions At A Global Level

Centralized L&D governance is one of the main goals of large organizations. Key challenges in the centralizing process are the fragmented structure of outsourcing, engaging and managing multiple suppliers, lack of spend visibility, inconsistency in the content delivery, and time invested by the internal team on operational L&D activities, such as supplier identification and administration. An MLS (Managed Learning Service) is identified as a potential solution to overcome most of these challenges. Fortune 500 organizations have found MLS as an effective solution to streamline entire L&D activities and efficiently reduce L&D spend.

What Is A Managed Learning Service?

An MLS is strategic outsourcing of end-to-end L&D activities to a service provider who can manage all the training requirements and vendor management centrally at a global level.

The concept of MLS is still at a nascent stage in the L&D space. Outsourcing the end-to-end process to a third-party vendor is observed in payroll, recruitment, and IT sectors, whereas the L&D activities are generally outsourced based on the requirement. For example, they are outsourcing selective training activities such as off-the-shelf eLearning materials or curriculum design and delivery.

In the L&D market, 80% of the training activities are outsourced, ranging from Instructional Design, learning technology, and content design and delivery. Engaging with multiple service providers locally and regionally is observed across different industries.

Services Offered By Managed Learning Service Providers (MLSP)

The gamut of services managed by MLSP is learning administration, supplier management, courseware development, and technology services.

In general, courseware development and technology tools are most likely outsourced to third parties. In contrast, the principal activities such as learning administration and supplier management are managed by the in-house L&D team. Internal L&D team spends 30-40% of the time on non-training activities such as learning administration.

In the entire L&D process, there is a considerable amount of spending involved in L&D administration and vendor management, which is currently managed internally by most of the large organizations. The complexity involved in regulating multiple vendors can be reduced drastically by engaging with MLS through process optimization.

MLS Trending

Globally, 60-70%of companies engage with L&D suppliers for specific activities such as learning technologies, solutions, content design and development, cloud solutions, and Performance Management services.

End-to-end L&D process outsourcing to MLSP is predominant in the U.S. and European countries such as UK, Germany, and France. Most of the top services providers are headquartered in these regions. The trend is also slowly emerging in developing areas (South America, MEA, and APAC countries).

A few examples of managed learning engagements:

  • A leading life insurance company in the U.K. engaged with a managed learning provider called Knowledge Pool with the contract value of GBP3 million for three years contract length.
  • A renowned US-based global health care company signed a 5-year contract with G.P. strategies for full-length L&D services.
  • An electricity and gas utility supplier engaged with G.P. strategies (3 years contract) for managing global learning services in the U.K. and the U.S.
  • Q.A. helped one of the global IT companies achieve 30% of cost savings by managing and streamlining the fragmented L&D activities.

Cost Optimization By Process Efficiency

The consolidation of the supplier base is very crucial to obtain cost savings. A step-wise approach can help the organization to reduce the training spend as well as aligning the L&D to business needs.

  • Supplier Management (5%): bulk purchase discount with suppliers and automating the P.O.s and payment process
  • Learning Administration (5-10%): dedicated help desk and streamlining workflow
  • Intelligent Project Scheduling (5-10%): learning forecast, demand planning, adopting efficient learning delivery methods and learner performance tracking
  • Courseware development (5%): content design, converting existing modules into effective delivery methods by leveraging technology platforms (eLearning, open online courses, and informal learning)

This strategic shift would help the L&D team spend productive time on content development, module designing, and performance analysis. This would result in spend visibility and training cost reduction by up to 20%.

Benefits of MLS:

  • Centralizing L&D functions globally
  • Automation of workflow
  • Clear demand plan
  • Selecting an effective delivery method
  • Performance analytics

Supplier Landscape

The L&D market is highly fragmented. There are more than 600 suppliers who offer training services. However, only a few suppliers provide end-to-end L&D services. Core L&D suppliers, such as G.P. Strategies, Hemsley Fraser, Skillsoft, Knowledge pool, City & Guilds Kineo, and Global Knowledge, offer MLS across the regions with a strong buyer base across all the industries and are backed by financial stability and brand reputation.

North American and European markets are well-matured markets with several top training suppliers headquartered in the U.S. and U.K.


On analyzing the L&D market outsourcing scenario, it is evident that engaging with MLS providers is currently not a widely adopted practice as the market is highly fragmented. However, this trend is gaining more importance, as organizations are emphasizing on attaining spend visibility and cost savings.

Owing to the benefits associated with MLS outsourcing, many of the global organizations have shifted to engaging with global integrated training suppliers to automate the L&D life cycle. MLS outsourcing can be beneficial to an organization with multivendor engagement and operating with fragmented L&D spend (>$10 million) across different regions. Consolidating the supplier base, centralizing the L&D functions, automating and streamlining the L&D process would help organizations achieve cost savings of about 20% on L&D activities and vendor management.

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