How You Can Choose the Right eLearning Company
Many organizations, at least for a while, rely on the abilities of their staff for in-house training development needs. As time passes, however, a partnership with a skilled eLearning company can be a beneficial step in improving employees’ knowledge, processes, behaviors and values.
But, as you’ll find when you’re tapping out the final phrase of your search term in Google, searching for an eLearning company is not without effort. Below, we offer you a few tips to make your search for the right eLearning company a bit easier.
First Ask: Is an eLearning Company Right for Us?
Before we proceed, are you sure eLearning is right for your organization? If you’re hosting training webinars or simple compliance presentations that are working fine for you now, for example, you may not need to work with an eLearning company just yet.
On the other hand, if you’re trying to train a widely distributed workforce, want a training program that is exceptionally engaging or creative or have special reporting or integration requirements, you may be right in thinking of tapping into an outside resource.
eLearning companies are advantageous because they can create solutions usually beyond the scope of in-house departments. Good firms have wide ranging and specific types of technical and creative expertise that’s hard to bring in-house, even for a large enterprises. Basically, organizations hire eLearning companies for the same reason they hire advertising or marketing agencies.
Choosing the Right eLearning Company
Once you’ve made the decision to work with an outside company, how do you choose the right one? Organizations make business decisions in lots of different ways, so it’s all in what’s important to you. It could be working with experienced and trusted professionals, getting the best customer service and technical support or, quite simply, receiving the best possible finished product.
Start with an internal conversation to determine your exact criteria. Then, no matter what your criteria are, you’re going to have to pick some companies, line up some interviews and kick some tires.
You can take the approach of sending an RFP to a bunch of agencies, but in our experience, you’re going to get a mediocre set of replies—most of them artificial and sterile. That’s why we suggest you take a more proactive, personal approach instead.
Think of it like this: When you are hiring an eLearning company, it’s like you are hiring a whole new department. You need to get to know these people—there has to be a chemistry there that can survive good times and bad. Look for that type of connection. And then cover your bases by asking all of your questions like:
- What experience do the key players have creating projects like mine?
- Who will be handling my account?
- What is the process for developing the training?
- What project management system or portal will you be using?
- When will I get to see script, wireframes, storyboards, design mockups and final work?
- How does the review and editing process work?
You should also focus tightly on a few things about the team’s capabilities:
- Does the company have a body of work for companies my size or in my industry?
- Do the samples or case studies fit the look and feel we’re looking for?
- Can you show demonstrable or quantitative results?
If you can, get a client reference and talk to them in detail. Ask about the eLearning company’s responsiveness, process, creative work and, most importantly, whether the client felt they were understood and got what they wanted.
Why ask so many questions? Even if the particular project you’re looking to create is small, your goal should be to enter into a longterm relationship with the eLearning company. It’s most cost effective to have a go-to firm that understands your organization and how to communicate and teach effectively to your audience. One-off projects with various firms is not going to give you the efficiency or quality you are looking for.
In eLearning, Size Matters
A recent study about advertising agencies by the Horn Group and Kelton Research indicated that two-thirds of chief marketing officers prefer agencies with 50 or fewer staff members, citing reasons such as "fewer hoops to jump through, more consistency in account teams, and more intimate partnership—regardless of budget.” The same dynamic holds true for eLearning development.
At Expand, when our team comes in to brainstorm and riff on a project, our clients know that same team is going to handle all their business. They also know that the owners touch every piece of the work we produce.
Having a close relationship with your team is especially important right now because the eLearning industry is changing at such a rapid rate. New software, technologies and techniques are being released weekly in this business. Things have changed dramatically just in the last few years, which complicates your decision-making process.
In the end, working with an external eLearning company is an investment—an investment in people and time and money. It has to be a relationship of trust; one which must be nurtured in order to produce optimum work and to achieve your ultimate eLearning goals.
And it all begins with your initial search.
If you're interested, check out ExpandShare's eLearning Services to see how your program can be an epic success.