Outsourcing Training: How to Outsource Your Talent Development

April 19, 2024 by Rebecca Ahn

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When most people talk about outsourcing, they are usually considering some of the more common examples of outsourcing such as IT, accounting, or manufacturing. But it can also be highly advantageous to consider outsourcing training and development of your workforce to a third party. This could include outsourcing a variety of trainings, such as policy training, compliance training, and talent development.

In this article, we will explore the most common and valuable types of training to outsource, the benefits of outsourcing training, and the best practices to ensure your outsourced work meets your expectations and helps achieve your goals.

Let’s jump right in.

What Is Outsourcing?

As you probably know, outsourcing is when a company contracts a third party to perform specific business activities and tasks to augment its existing workflow and workforce. It’s a practice that has become ubiquitous in the modern business landscape.

Most of the time, outsourcing falls into the space where a company needs to meet a deadline in a larger business goal, but lacks the staff, time, or know-how to complete the project in-house. It can be used for something simple and project-based, like developing a design or webpage, to more complex work like performing all HR or accounting duties for an organization. Times like these are perfect for outsourcing, because it can get the work done without causing undue stress on the organization.

There are, of course, times when outsourcing fails to meet the intended business needs, costing the organization the time and money it was trying to save. So it’s vital to understand how to find the right outsourcing partner and manage that relationship to ensure success. If handled properly and efficiently, outsourcing can be a powerful, cost-effective magnifier for an organization.

What Is Outsourcing Training?

This includes outsourcing training needs your organization may have. Outsourcing training is a relatively broad term that can mean utilizing external resources to train your workforce on a wide variety of business practices and tasks. This could mean training your staff around the commonly outsourced activities we mentioned above, like IT, accounting, manufacturing, or human resources.

More often, however, this means outsourcing the training and development of your organization’s workforce. This type of training outsourcing involves hiring an outside party to manage your talent development initiatives to strengthen and grow your workforce alongside your business needs.

Which vendors and training outsourcing programs you choose will vary depending on your specific situation, needs, and goals. However, there are a few best practices and potential pitfalls to be mindful of as you prepare your team to navigate and optimize the outsourcing process.

Let’s review the types of training and development you might want to outsource for your workforce, the benefits of these outsourcing training examples, and best practices to follow to ensure optimal outsourcing results.

Types of Outsourcing Training Programs

There are a wide variety of types of training that can be outsourced. These can focus more on training your staff in specific business areas you are looking to expand your operations and activities, such as marketing, sales, customer service, IT, accounting, or manufacturing, or human resources. For example, perhaps you need to train your HR team on better recruiting practices, or how to run payroll, or conducting exit interviews.

Alternatively, this can also mean outsourcing training and development of your staff members in professional skill areas that will better enable them to perform whatever business tasks they undertake and help reach your organizational goals.

Examples of this type of outsourced training might include upskilling and reskilling your employees to address skill gaps, developing your managers’ leadership skills, or growing your senior leadership with executive coaching.

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The Benefits of Outsourcing Training

Let’s start with the benefits of outsourcing training. Outsourcing the training of your workforce can give your employees and entire organization significant advantages.

Increased Efficiency

First and foremost, training your internal staff on specific business activities, tasks, or skills will increase the efficiency of everyone involved. Boosting the professional skills of your employees also helps them work more productively and effectively, both individually and as a team, enabling the entire organization to reach your business goals that much more expediently.

Increased Cost Savings

In the same vein, improved efficiency from outsourcing training can also save you extra costs you might’ve had to invest into hiring new talent, purchasing software, or outsourcing the entire activity or project to a more expensive outside vendor. By only outsourcing the employee training part of the process, you can enable the rest of the business activity to be insourced, meaning it is completed by internal employees where you have better quality control, communication, and efficiency.

Increased Employee Morale

Your employees’ increased productivity and teamwork will also result in boosted company morale and retention, creating a culture of learning where employees are invested in their growth and performance. When people feel valued by their employer, they are more likely to work harder, stay longer, and devote energy to expanding their contribution to the organization. This can also save you even more potential expenditures around hiring, layoffs, or costly legal battles.

Access to Expertise

Last but not least, outsourcing training to outside vendors who are qualified in the particular tasks and skills in question naturally also means that your internal employees will gain this outside expertise during their training that they might not have otherwise had access to. Your organization can reap the benefits of this added expertise in a much more cost-effective way than if you outsourced the entire business activity or department to an expensive outsourcing firm for a longer period of time.

Potential Pitfalls of Outsourcing Training

Now let’s talk about the potential problems you may face when outsourcing training in your organization. On the surface, outsourcing may seem quite easy to pull off. After all, the brunt of the work is falling onto the outside contractor, right?

Well, just like you hear horror stories of contractors messing up remodeling jobs on houses, the same can happen with your internal projects if they are not planned and executed carefully. So it’s important to understand the potential pitfalls of outsourcing and how to effectively manage your training outsourcing.

One obvious downside is the potential for the outsourced training to prove more costly and time-consuming than the benefits it hopes to add. This may occur if you aren’t careful in your selection process of which types of training would most benefit your staff, and which outsourcing vendor would best meet your training needs.

Once you’ve selected your training program and vendor, you could also face potential problems in managing the relationship with your training outsourcing vendor, such as misaligned expectations, breakdowns in communication, and legal issues.

These issues can be avoided by following a few key best practices, which we will cover next, but they can still occur fairly easily if you aren’t careful. So you want to make sure you’re giving these potential issues ample thought and focus as you navigate your training outsourcing process.

Outsourcing Training Best Practices

Now let’s go over some of our top tips for ensuring a smooth and successful outsourcing training experience. These best practices will enable you to take full advantage of all the benefits of outsourcing training, as well as avoid the potential pitfalls and problems we discussed above.

Do Your Research

One of the biggest letdowns a company can go through is to hire an outside contractor for cheap and be less than thrilled with the completed work. So the first step is of course to do your due diligence in researching, evaluating, and selecting the right outsourcing training partner for your needs. You need to do a thorough examination of how the outside vendor works, what their program entails, and what their past successes look like.

Create Realistic Expectations

Once you’ve selected your outside vendor, the next step in any outsourcing training scenario is to make sure you create realistic expectations with that chosen vendor. This involves thorough communication with them upfront and as you go through the program to ensure your expectations are set together and remain aligned all throughout.

You’ll also want to manage your expectations internally, especially if you’ve had to keep to a tight budget. Do not expect to get out-of-this-world training for next to no money, even if the goal is to cut costs with outsourcing training. Help everyone in your organization manage their expectations as they go through the training outsourcing program, to ensure that they are prepared to get the most out of the experience.

Optimize Communication

Another crucial step to successfully outsourcing training of your employees is to understand how to best communicate your needs to the contractor. This goes hand-in-hand with setting and managing shared expectations with our outsourcing vendor. You need to fully understand your chosen training outsourcing program, milestones, and goals from start to finish if you ever want to manage it properly. To do this, it’s best to err on the side of over-communication as you initiate your new outsourcing partnership, work out the details of the program together, and continue to assess its efficacy as the program progresses.

If you are unsure of the details and rely solely on the outside vendor to manage the program, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment. After all, the outsourcing vendor cannot read your mind. They need a detailed report of how things should be handled and what needs to be done if you are going to be happy with the results. This is why poor communication is one of the biggest reasons outsourcing training fails for some companies.

Manage Poor Performance

This best practice likewise goes hand-in-hand with managing expectations and communication. Letting go of a project and handing over control to an outside vendor can be tough, especially if you’re offshore outsourcing your training to a vendor overseas. So you need to understand what constitutes poor performance and how to manage it should the situation be called for.

Performance and expectations can be handled simply by making sure that you go over the training project in detail with the outsourcing vendor. This includes signing a contract that thoroughly dictates the details of the program, such as how long it will take, what milestones will be hit, and what its final success will look like. Cover all of your bases legally to ensure that you get what you paid for and are generally protected.

Anticipate Legal Issues

On that note, the final outsourcing training best practice you should address is what legal concerns can arise when working with an outside vendor. For example, you need to be clear about confidentiality parameters, how your intellectual property is being used and protected, and what rights both parties retain after the program is concluded.

This section requires the work of a lawyer to ensure that everything is above board. Though it is still a good idea to familiarize yourself with what these contracts look like and how to evaluate them if a training outsourcing vendor should present one during your exploratory communications.

Outsourcing Training: Final Takeaways

Outsourcing training is a great way to magnify your internal workforce by bringing in outside training in key business areas, skills, and professional development. This provides your entire organization with numerous benefits, including access to additional expertise, enhanced productivity, boosted morale, and increased cost-savings. But it can also come with potential issues like misaligned expectations, breakdowns in communication, substandard results, and legal ramifications.

This is why it’s important that you follow a few key best practices when navigating any outsourcing project, including and beyond training and development programs. These include doing your research due diligence when shopping for the right outsourcing partner, over-communicating and aligning on realistic expectations as you begin working together, managing these expectations and milestones with their performance as you progress to evaluate their success, and anticipating any legal issues at every stage of the process.

Outsourcing training doesn’t have to be terribly complicated. But it is important to remember that each type of outsourcing project and training program will be different and require different things. It would be fruitless to try to cover them all, but these key benefits and best practices are things that will be standard across the board and essential to the success of any outsourcing training endeavor.

If you’re looking for outsourcing training companies, click below to download our free Outsourcing Checklist to help you choose the right external partner for your training and other outsourcing needs, whether that’s here with us at Careerminds or elsewhere.

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Rebecca Ahn

Rebecca Ahn

Rebecca is a writer, editor, and business consultant with over 10 years of experience launching, managing, and coaching small to midsize companies on their business, marketing, and HR operations. She is a passionate people advocate who believes in building strong people, teams, and companies with empowering culture, content, and communication that facilitates meaningful results at every level and touchpoint. In her spare time, Rebecca is an avid traveler and nomad who also enjoys writing about travel safety and savvy. Learn more on her LinkedIn page.

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