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Outsource magazine: thought-leadership and outsourcing strategy | October 25, 2014

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Five Keys to Managed Learning Services

Five Keys to Managed Learning Services
Outsource Magazine

Peg Albert, Global Director of Marketing & Communications for Raytheon Professional Services, looks at how to increase your return on investment from a training provider.

CEOs oversaw the spending of $104.3 billion for the training of employees, dealers, customers and other supply chain participants during 2009 — and spending for 2010 will increase by an estimated 6-8 percent. How can organizations get a bigger payoff from these expenditures? The answer for an increasing number of them is the subject matter expertise found in a managed learning services provider. Approximately 41.8 percent of training budgets went to outsourced services last year. The transition of in-house learning to outsourced learning is likely to continue in the future as companies focus on leveraging resources, accelerating time to competency and realizing efficiencies in training.

Here are five keys to increase your return on investment from a training provider:

1. Shift Invested Costs

To significantly transform a business, leaders must transition traditional instructor-led training (ILT) to more blended learning solutions that incorporate alternative delivery methods that augment and in some instances replace ILT to compress time to proficiency, reduce training costs and improve the learners’ overall experience. These could include web based training, virtual classroom sessions, mobile learning, etc. Accomplishing this shift requires major investments in people, processes and technology. Let the training outsourcer make that investment.

A partner has already trained employees globally who can accelerate the transformation — subject matter experts who understand how to make the change seamless from the learner perspective. The training provider already has developed best practice processes designed to transform the learning infrastructure from ILT to more blended solutions. Mobile and social learning platforms, virtual world platforms, Web based training — they all demand noteworthy investments in technology and understanding how to properly integrate them into a blended learning environment.

Leverage your managed services partner. Businesses make capital investments that they pay for over time. When you work with a partner, you convert the capital investment to a pay-as-you-go model. You pay only for the tools, processes and technology as you need them.

2. Focus on Business Results

Your training provider’s solution should help your business achieve its strategic goals and impact the top and bottom lines. Successful programs increase employee productivity and time- to-proficiency while lowering costs. The provider should help you structure a solution based upon your organization’s business model so that critical performance factors such as sales, speed-to-market and client satisfaction are improved while employees, customers and partners are aligned.

Some companies enter into selective engagements that deliver improved quality, responsiveness and cost at a project-based level. Other companies elect comprehensive solutions involving complex, end-to-end services to align systems and processes to improve workforce performance and impact business outcomes. Organizations might achieve these gains on their own. However, an experienced training provider should accelerate and increase results.

3. Identify Your Learning Needs

Evaluate every facet of your existing training program. Scrutinize accomplishments and examine areas ripe for improvement. Analyze your training program’s existing objectives: its impact on business; use of learning resources; course curriculum; and training design, delivery and administration. Then ask the following questions: Is your organization teaching the technical and behavioural skills needed for improved performance? Do you have a call centre that answers questions quickly and accurately? Are you avoiding duplication of effort? Are training processes transparent? Is the learning function helping to establish a corps of subject matter experts who have in-depth knowledge in their fields? Does it allow tracking of recurring problems and correct them?

Overwhelmed? These questions are not easily answered for most chief executives. Experienced managed learning services provider can help you identify questions that should be asked, help you formulate the answers and design the solution roadmap to get you there.

4. Cover the Full Supply Chain – Globally

The training partner you choose should be able to help you maximize learning’s benefits up and down your supply chain and around the world. The provider can help you empower your supply chain using training to align your partners, suppliers and resellers to your business objectives. Suppliers and partners aligned to your business deliver meaningful results, like increased sales, reduced warranty and repair costs and increased speed to market. An experienced provider helps you turn training into a competitive advantage and a market differentiator for your brand.

Look for a company that has offices in the markets where your employees are located. A provider that truly operates in the international arena can deliver training in multiple languages — in every developed country and those with rapidly expanding economies. A managed learning services partner can help you quickly implement training in markets where you have no training capabilities. It can offer experience with diverse cultures, currencies and regulatory environments.

5. Maximize Existing Resources

Incorporating outsourcing of your training into your strategy doesn’t mean starting over. Your outsourcing partner should work with you to maximize the impact of your current curriculum. First, validate that each of your existing training programs are structured in a manner that provides the skills every employee needs to increase productivity. Next, determine the most appropriate, cost-effective type of delivery for each program. A partner can help you improve the cost-effectiveness markedly by moving appropriate portions of delivery from live classroom instruction to a blended learning solution that introduces virtual training and other media. Blended learning provides huge savings because it reduces the direct costs associated with instructors, facilities and student travel and the indirect costs related to students’ time away from work. Additional efficiencies may be realized by deploying appropriate learning technologies, such as a learning management and learning content management systems (LMS, LCMS).

By using a provider’s infrastructure, companies can defer capital investments in these systems and the expertise required to properly integrating them into the overall learner experience. For example, it ensures a common user experience and tractability across a variety of delivery methods including: courses, case studies, business articles, learning guides, user-generated content, group learning, webcasts, social networks, polling and video. A properly integrated learning environment ensures the right training is delivered at the right time in the right way.

Expert Help Often Needed

Your choice of the right managed learning services partner will affect the value that learning provides to your business more than any other decision. For some companies, outsourcing is about cost reduction; for others, it’s about deferring capital investments for new learning technologies; and for others, it’s about access to expertise that will allow you to rapidly scale your learning function. In any case, look for a partner that has a long and accomplished record of satisfied clients and one that tailors its programs to accommodate an organization’s culture. Does it have large-scale, long-term contracts with major organizations? Has it transformed the way its clients provide learning throughout their extended enterprises? Does it provide specialized services such as performance consulting, tuition reimbursement, assessment and certification programs? Access to the full range of available services is essential for obtaining the maximum return on investment.

Some chief executives seek expert advice in choosing a training outsourcing partner. Advisory firms can help you fine-tune the business case for outsourcing, identify potential providers, create an on-target RFP, evaluate proposals and negotiate the outsourcing contract. Make sure that the advisory firm clearly understands your drivers for outsourcing so that they can be clearly articulated in your RFP. Also, provide as detailed current-state information as possible in your RFP. Understanding your motives and your current-state metrics allows potential partners to formulate solid solutions that more clearly align to your intended objectives. Training providers can help to radically increase your company’s productivity. Look into opportunities for increasing your company’s top and bottom lines with the aid of a managed learning services partner.

Originally published in The CEO Refresher – http://www.refresher.com/ceo.html

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