Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Joys of Contracting "In"

I am constantly amazed at how many organizations (even very large ones) have only two or three people responsible for eLearning. These very small teams are charged with designing, developing, producing, implementing, and managing the eLearning initiatives in these organizations. Not surprisingly, they are often overwhelmed by these responsibilities, have difficulty meeting project deadlines, and are stressed out.

Producing good eLearning is a complex process. There are many different competencies required (e.g. project management, instructional design, programming, technology support, evaluation skills, etc.). It is rare that all these are found in one or two people. Something inevitably gives way when an individual or very small team is expected to bring all these competencies to bear on an eLearning project. Quality will suffer and/or timelines will not be met.

There are a number of strategies for closing these competency gaps.
  • have your team develop new competencies (this takes time and does not address capacity issues)
  • hire people with these competencies (you take on new overhead and have to carry these costs no matter what level of development work you have down the road)
  • contract in the competencies as required (provides flexibility to access certain needed competencies when needed)
Smart organizations decide what core competencies they have and then contract in those competencies in which they are lacking. This allows them to be nimble, to react to internal demands for eLearning as these arise, and to expand and contract their operation as demand dictates.

We are in the eLearning business and we contract in various competencies as required in order to provide the exact competencies required for the project at hand.

Notice I say we "contract in." We don't like the term "contract out," because it sounds like a disjointed process whereby work is done somewhere else and separate from the job at hand (kind of like sending shirts to the laundry). We prefer to make our contractors - whether instructional designers, graphic artists, Flash programmers, etc. - part of our internal team and working together toward common goals for our clients. Our core competency is the ability to orchestrate this whole process to meet client expectations on time and on budget.

So give it some thought. Are you trying to do everything yourself? Is this smart? Do you have the flexibility to respond to demands for eLearning as these arise? What are your core competencies, and what can you do to strengthen your team from without?


Post a Comment

<< Home