Outsourcing eLearning: How To Check And Evaluate eLearning Companies (2018 Update)

Outsourcing eLearning: How To Check And Evaluate eLearning Companies
Summary: There are times when developing eLearning in-house simply isn’t cost effective. Or you may need to tap into the expertise of an experienced eLearning outsourcing vendor who understands the subject matter inside-out. In this article, I share 6 tips to check and evaluate eLearning companies for your next eLearning outsourcing project.

6 Tips To Check And Evaluate eLearning Companies Before Outsourcing eLearning

They say if you want something done right, do it yourself. Unfortunately, we don’t always have this luxury, especially in the corporate sector. That’s the entire premise behind management. Still, when you do have to outsource your online training program, you want to pick the right eLearning outsourcing partner. It needs to make financial sense and be a sound investment. It also needs to maintain the same function and efficacy as doing it in-house. This is both in terms of content and context. How can you ensure you get the right ROI for your online training? Here are 6 tips to vet eLearning companies before outsourcing eLearning.

1. Verify Their Level And Type Of Expertise

If you’re outsourcing your entire eLearning program to an eLearning outsourcing vendor, you need to consider their level of expertise and background in the industry. eLearning courses can be designed by function or sector. For example, you can use the same software to teach multiple languages. An accounting online training course can educate staff at a hospital or a supermarket, though there may be tailored modules. On the other hand, you could buy a separate online training course for medical accounting, or one customized for wholesale/retail cashiers. Whichever option you select, see whether their training skill set is applicable to your needs. For example, you could explore both the doctor-driven accounts program and the generic one. Use their free trials to see which one better fits your needs. The same rule applies to eLearning content development. If you’re hiring an eLearning outsourcing vendor to develop customized eLearning, you must ensure that they have experience in your niche and the necessary skills.

2. Double-Check Their References

Anyone can dish out referrals or glowing testimonials. So, it can be challenging to tell what’s genuine and what’s over-exaggerated. Instead, request a verifiable list of customers. Call or email them and ask specific questions. They can’t share proprietary information, but they can still be helpful. For example, they could tell you what customer support is like, or how effective the reference material is. They can give you specifics on which parts of the eLearning course are customizable, or whether certain features are present. Focus on key aspects of the partnership, such as the overall customer experience, communication, and adherence to the contract.

3. Look Out For Hidden Costs

These days, almost every listed price comes with an asterisk (*), so consumers have learned to look for the caveat. Still, there are add-on expenses you won’t spot unless you ask, whether there’s an asterisk (*) or not. For example, ask how often the eLearning course is updated, and how much that costs. Usually, an online training program will have standard features and ‘sold separately’ features, but they’ll all be advertised on the platform. Make sure you can distinguish the two, and find out the dollar value of each individual plug-in. Also, ask if the listed price is tax-inclusive. If you’re outsourcing eLearning content development, ask about the revision and maintenance process. Will the eLearning content provider charge you on a monthly basis for content upkeep? Or can you contact them on a case-by-case basis to update the online training content as needed or do some eLearning housekeeping? Support services are yet another cost to consider.

4. Ask For Metrics

This can be particularly hard to source from the eLearning outsourcing vendor themselves, so you could ask their customers. All good eLearning courses have built in detailed analytics. Some even have automated reports. So before outsourcing eLearning, try to obtain reports on completion rates, duration, and customer feedback. The reports can be redacted to take out any identifying information. You basically want to see how employees respond to the online training course, especially in terms of how easy it is to use. These reports can show you how effective the online training course really is on the ground, or rather, on the screen.

5. Do A Technical Review

There are certain aspects your online training requires, and you shouldn’t take them for granted. If you have remote workers, ask if the eLearning course has mobile elements and offline capability. If you’re a global organization, ask the eLearning outsourcing vendor how they handle foreign languages. Or maybe your group has mixed exposure to technology, so you need to test ease of use, especially in terms of digital literacy. If culture plays a factor, look into your specific areas of concern. For example, you may want something that accounts for variations in race, gender, social stature, or education levels. In the case of custom content, ask the eLearning outsourcing vendor to show you samples of past projects, preferably in a similar niche. Then evaluate the quality of the online training content and whether it supported the training objectives. Is it challenging to navigate? Does it convey the information in a way that’s easy to digest?

6. Set Up A Meeting

There’s only so much research you can do online to verify the eLearning outsourcing partner before eLearning outsourcing. If you’ve narrowed it to a few eLearning outsourcing partners, set up a meeting with each to get a feel for their work practices. Ask them how they will address your learning objectives and training gaps, as well as which tools they use to develop the online training content and who will be working on your corporate eLearning project. Now is the time to address any concerns you have about the price point, negative reviews, or any other issues you encountered while doing your eLearning vendor homework. It may simply be a misunderstanding that is quickly clarified. Or the meeting might reveal that their expertise and experience isn’t a good fit for your eLearning program.

When outsourcing eLearning, always consider potential implications. You may just ‘venture outwards’ because there’s some excess room in the budget and your L&D team is already dealing with a heavy workload. Or maybe you want to focus on aspects that need more of your personal attention. Vet your eLearning outsourcing vendors with the same standards you’d apply to yourself. Verify their skills in your chosen niche, both in terms of content and training style. Check their testimonials. Don’t just accept them at face value. Dig deeper. Ask for reports and learner statistics. Triple-check their technical and technological ability, and look into potentially hidden expenses like upgrades or support services.

Have you been considering whether it is more cost-efficient to tackle the task in-house or outsource it? Have you tried hard at eLearning course development, but you're still not achieving the desired results? How can you make sure that you stay on budget and make the most of your existing online training resources? Download our free eBook The Ultimate Guide To eLearning Outsourcing to find out about the benefits of eLearning outsourcing, common mistakes to avoid, criteria for choosing the best eLearning outsourcing Content Provider, how to ensure that your eLearning outsourcing project runs smoothly and much more.