Outsourcing Your Headaches

At INTEA supporting clients with their Learning Management Systems was not a service that we set out to provide, however, it is a service that came highly requested by our clients. This outsourcing of support comes in multiple forms including, how to use a specific LMS, technical support, maintenance, and can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days depending on the specifics of the tasks. Companies outsource their LMS support to INTEA so that they can remain focused on their main tasks, all while knowing a professional team is dealing with any issues regarding their LMS.

Why outsource?

Typically speaking, the learning departments of a lot of companies tend to be quite small, which means they can only do so much in any given amount of time. This also means they are going to be responsible for all matters related to learning within the company, the LMS, the course content, the learning objectives, the enrolment, all alongside any technical issues that crop up. The technical and maintenance side of an LMSs can be a huge time sink, requiring constant attention, and this is a lot of time and effort that can be better spent elsewhere.

For example, if you have 3,000 employees that need to be enrolled on a course and you do not have an automated process set up, it means this information is going to have to be manually entered. This is a monotonous and mind-numbing task at the best of times and is likely not what you thought you were signing up to working in the learning department. By outsourcing this task to INTEA, you gain the hours/days back and can focus on your main job, this means no overtime and no deadlines are pushed or worse – missed.

LMS support and maintenance can be so time consuming because it is not something you deal with on a daily basis and it can be months between similar issues, which means you are having to relearn the process every time you try to solve the issues yourself. This can turn what could be a simple four-hour task for one of our LMS experts into a two-day chore for a client. Outsourcing is all about being able to identify what you are not good, what is not an efficient use of your time, and sharing the headache with someone else.

What tasks are typically outsourced?

By definition, pretty much any job you do not want to do yourself can be outsourced to another person or company, but here at INTEA we mainly deal with reports, platform training, content support, and technical support, i.e. I forgot my log in details, please help! LMS reports are a way of showing the results and impact of the learning courses undertaken by employees. This information can be translated and displayed in raw data that can be more easily understood. This may sound like an easy task, but when you consider that this information might be stored in several different Excel sheets, encompasses multiple trainings, and accounts for thousands of employees, it is starting to sound like a headache. This information is useful for showing a board of directors how the training is going and what benefits can be observed.
In the situation where a client is new to eLearning or has adopted a new LMS, they are going to need help understanding how it all works. This training support helps a client realise the potential of their LMS, what it is capable of and how it all works ‘under the hood’. Quite often our client companies do not have in-house experts that are able to conduct this training themselves or that have the available time to dedicate to learning it themselves. When it comes to providing support for designing learning portals and creating specific learning journeys, the line between content support and content production begins to blur.

What content support is available?

If a client does not know what their LMS is capable of, as in how their content can be accessed, displayed, curated, then they are not getting the full use out of their LMS. We are able to advise them on or even design for them content that is easily accessed, visually pleasing, and engaging for their learners.

When it comes to content creation support, there are many different tasks that we can help with. For example, it may sound like an easy task to add a certificate that is issued on completion of a course, but to get it awarded based on set criteria, with the learner’s name and looking good, requires a decent amount of programming and technical knowledge. You may also find that something that should in theory be simple to achieve internally becomes another kind of headache. Does your IT department have the time to do this, does it fit within your deadlines, who is billed for the task etc?

INTEA is also able to provide expert support in helping our clients understand what they want their employees to gain from the trainings and refine their learning objectives based on this.

How is support given?

From INTEA’s side, LMS support goes even further, we have a high level of trust with our clients and we have developed a strong working relationship. In some cases, we manage our clients’ LMS mailboxes, where we can deal with the vast majority of email queries on our side. So instead of our client receiving 150 support emails, only two or three get through to them. This means we drastically cut their workload, so they can spend more time working on their priority tasks.

When it comes to compiling reports and presenting information, we are only able to ‘translate’ the information we have, if anything is missing, there will be gaps in the learning report produced. The reports are only as good as the data we receive, however, this can highlight the areas that have not been properly accounted for. Knowing what information you want from the learning reports, will be beneficial to understanding the overall direction and structure of your learning objectives.

How do you know when to outsource?

It can be challenging to decide if you should just do the job yourself or if you should outsource the tasks to someone else. To help you decide, you can ask yourself some questions:

  1. How valuable is my time and is it better used elsewhere?
  2. Do I know how to do the task efficiently, or could an expert do it in a fraction of the time?
  3. If you can get the tasks completed ‘in-house’, is it a smooth process, or will it complicate it?

The trick is to be honest about your abilities, if you/ your company can do the task but it will take two days instead of two hours, is it really the most efficient use of your time and money? LMS support will typically be able to do tasks in roughly half the time, this is a big factor to consider when deadlines are looming.

How do you know if an outsourcing partner is a good fit?

It is important to do your research before you outsource tasks to another person or company. Remember they will be working on your behalf and their work will reflect on you. A good thing to start with is checking if they have a high turnover of staff, are you seeing new people each time you contact the company, or are you familiar with the staff and building a strong relationship? If there is a high turnover, it means you will not be getting the full benefit of outsourcing your tasks, their staff will be learning the roles as they work and likely cannot do it much faster. You need to find experts that have been working in your area for a long time and they know what they are doing, this is when you will benefit from outsourcing. Another thing that will greatly help you in deciding is, does the company, you are considering, have a SLA or service level agreement, what is the time frame that they say they will respond to your messages/requests by? Does this fit your requirements and deadlines?

If you would like to find out more regarding outsourcing you can watch our more in-depth discussion that is part of the INTEA Breakfasts fifth season here:

Headache control: Outsourcing LMS admin function - INTEA breakfast S05E02 - YouTube
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