Newsletter: The rise of outsourced learning

As the stuttering economy struggles back towards growth, companies need to cut costs and improve efficiency to boost business performance. Figures suggest around two-fifths of organisations outsource part of their training to a managed service provider (MSP) as one of the ways to achieve these goals. Proprietary vs. vendor-independent
The type of managed service offered by companies generally falls into one of two categories. Proprietary MSPs tend to be established training companies who have diversified into managed services. Their focus is the delivery of high-quality training from their catalogue and that of their partner vendors, usually focused in a specific area such as IT or Project Management. They will have their own trainers, facilities and course developers along with an administration team to handle the booking process. Vendor-independent MSPs, on the other hand, are client-focused companies whose focus is delivering the best possible service to match the exact needs of their clients. Because they’re not limited to a defined catalogue they offer a considerably more diverse and flexible service aimed at providing the highest-quality course available to meet the specific requirements of their customers. The decision as to which is the preferable option comes down to the requirements of the business. For those looking to train people in a narrow field of curriculum-based courses a proprietary vendor is perfectly adequate, especially if they’re looking to push through a large quantity of delegates. Those looking for a more comprehensive service covering a number of areas, flexibility in prices, dates and locations and training which meets their specific needs would be better off with a vendor-independent MSP.

What are the benefits of MSPs?

  • A managed service isn’t just a money-saving exercise. Because MSPs work in a niche market they have the resources and expertise available to provide a range of benefits:
  • Increased quality and ROI through learning delivery based on the real evaluations of hundreds of thousands of delegates.
  • An enhanced delegate experience thanks to improved administration efficiency, service levels and, potentially, a better technology platform along with leveraging specialist L&D knowledge.
  • Reduction in the “total cost of learning” through a variety of controls including leveraged buying power, best practice sourcing techniques, simplified procurement, single consolidated invoicing and streamlined administration.
  • Increased control because there is a single point of contact for both training administration and vendor management, one set of SLAs supported by improved management information and complete transparency for better decision making.
  • Thought leadership in learning, whether it is simple supplier advice or high-level strategic reviews. A managed service provider should offer advice and guidance based on wider industry experience.

Is it for everyone?

Some organisations might feel uncomfortable outsourcing a whole section of their business, e.g. those operating out of a single office, while others are happy with how their learning and development is run but are looking to reduce the cost of the courses they buy. For this reason, most MSPs will offer a range of services to accommodate all requirements. Those who don’t see the benefit of a full service will be able to work with a reduced offering, foregoing some insight but enjoying the same savings and high quality of training. For more information on how managed learning services can help improve your learning and development performance, contact us.