Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Employee training and development, and the creation and retention of value -6: in-house versus outsourced training

Posted in career development, HR and personnel by Timothy Platt on August 17, 2012

This is my sixth posting in a series on employee training and development, and as this topic area would be viewed from all of the involved stakeholders’ perspectives (see HR and Personnel, postings 107 and loosely following for Parts 1-5.) I have been discussing a range of issues related to training and employee development resources per se, and who should be offered them. And in Part 5: involving the full range of stakeholders I more fully discussed their issues of impact, influence and ownership. For purpose of this posting I assume that as pro and con positions are addressed as to what training to offer whom, and why and at what cost, a decision is made to proceed.

At that point in the process of developing and approving a training program, a series of follow-up questions arise as to how and where to do it and of workplace logistics. And I will at least start a discussion of that here, and with a focus on multiple-employee training.

• Should this training be carried out in-house, and largely or even entirely utilizing in-house trainers? Even if the answer to this is yes on both counts, this can mean a great many things.

A wide range of possible needs and opportunities scenarios come to mind when training is initially agreed to, and to cite a few of them:

1. If the goal of this is to train new and ongoing employees in in-house developed and defined processes and approaches, or in use of in-house developed technologies or tools, then the greatest sources of expertise that could be turned to as an instructor pool would be found in-house too.
2. An in-house requirement would also definitely apply where some or all of what would be taught depends upon or otherwise directly involves use of proprietary information or trade secrets and in ways that would of necessity expose this information during the course of instruction. But even there, if space is not available on-site at a business it still might be necessary to find a third party venue to conduct this “in-house” training at.
3. Would employees drawn from different offices, and even from locations distant from each other be brought together to train together? Even if this training was located in-house as for example at corporate headquarters, it might not be at the day-to-day familiar workplace of most of the people participating in it – and even with this entirely carried out in-house.
4. If skills that are completely new to the organization would be trained for or if specialized resources were needed for this training that would not be cost-effective to bring in and own in-house, third party provider training might make more sense.
5. And if this training involves or leads to certification testing and licensure it might make more sense to bring in vetted expertise with name recognition for that too, and regardless of training venue.

The goal here should be to find the most cost-effective solution as to how and where to carry out this training, and with who involved. But “cost-effective” should not simply be seen as a matter of immediate costs and savings, and either in total or on a per-participant basis. And effective Human Resources managers who set up and run training for the business should creatively consider all of the factors and cost-benefits points in finding and implementing the right training programs for their business, and with training availability and need, and short and long term costs and benefits, and with due diligence and risk remediation factors taken into account.

• Would it make more sense to carry out training in-person as assumed above in my five scenarios or should this be done online, and even with automated training modules? Would video conferencing effectively contribute to this mix, and if so for which participants? Individual scheduling requirements can be very important here.
• If a goal of this training is to bring people together as all belonging to a single company-wide team and if that is important to achieving essential training goals, then face to face might be necessary. But even if this training involves team building exercises, interactive online and/or videoconferencing and similar channels can offer a lot of effective capabilities and resources for that too.

Interactive-online has both simplified this set of decisions and made them more complex. It has increased the number of options available, increasing the likelihood that a best-fit and widely acceptable approach to any particular training exercise can be found or created. But the new diversity of approaches and of hybrid approaches has made a wider range of decisions necessary. Should some parts of a lengthier training program be carried out online and using interactive and social media channels? Should some portions of a training program be carried out face-to-face, and if so should they be carried out more locally or regionally?

• Start with your intended goals for providing training resources, and as viewed by all of the critically involved stakeholders who have to sign off on them.
• What approaches for timing, location and other logistics issues could lead to conflicts between stakeholders?
• What approaches would be most acceptable to and accommodating of the needs of all of these stakeholders? In the real world that means negotiating terms and in ways that can include accommodations that go way beyond the specific issues immediately under discussion for any given training exercise.
• And how can you most cost-effectively achieve this? There, cost includes short and longer term direct monetary expenses, protection of proprietary and other confidential information, and other due diligence considerations. And benefits can be both immediate and short term, and of longer time frame.

As a final thought here, even if the primary goal of a training program or exercise is to impart some specific set of technical hands-on expertise, when you bring people together from within the business, you always face opportunity to make this a team building experience too – and both for making these employees more acutely aware of their business as a whole, and that they be more widely connected into the community they belong to when there. Look for ways to leverage in additional sources of value when you plan out and run a training program and with both short term and immediate, and longer term value potentials in mind.

I have been outlining a basic and even foundational approach to training in my first six postings of this series, and with all of that built from a basic, driving assumption that training and employee development can and does make sense. I have built a framework for addressing that set of needs up to now. I am going to turn in my next series installment, to question when that assumption might or might not hold, and will do so in terms of two diverging paradigmatic models – two approaches that diverge at the level of a set of basic assumptions that went into Part 3: company-required options and resources . Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at HR and Personnel.

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