Developing quality eLearning doesn’t have to be expensive. But still, we’ve all seen our training budgets stretched beyond their limits.
Why is this? Maybe it’s because there are unnecessary training costs sneaking in under the radar. Hidden costs that can be avoided.
6 Ways to Avoid Unnecessary Training Costs
Rooting out sneaky eLearning costs doesn’t require a magnifying glass. You just need to know where to look. Let’s explore actionable ways to avoid hidden costs, so that you can allocate your training budget where you really need it.
- Plan well
- Choose the right technology
- Build an experienced, well-balanced team
- Be wise, content-wise
- Allocate budget for the unsexy stuff
- Schedule for enough time
1. Plan well
We all know that failing to plan means planning to fail, and it’s especially true where budgets are involved.
eLearning development costs start to rack up from the moment you decide to develop a course, program, or initiative. So it’s important to optimize your planning process to account for all the necessary factors. Just be careful not to spend so much time planning that development becomes a rush.
Before undertaking a new eLearning project, make sure your planning covers:
- A detailed needs analysis process to avoid unplanned changes.
- Key development tools that your team already knows or can master without costly training.
- The skills needed within your team to complete the eLearning project. If you need to hire experts or developers, make sure to plan for the time to do it!
- A review and feedback process with major stakeholders. You don’t want to wait until the project is well on its way to get your first round of feedback. Mistakes are easier (and cheaper) to fix if they’re caught early on.
2. Choose the right technology
“To the man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” When you don’t have the right tools, your solutions aren’t going to be innovative or interesting. Worse still, they might not be fit for purpose. Wasted hours on poor solutions are the worst kind of unnecessary eLearning development costs.
So, take a close look at the technologies available to your eLearning development team. Is the LMS modern and user-friendly? Is it mobile-ready? Does it provide a variety of content formats to encourage creativity?
Learners appreciate newer content approaches like microlearning. So, make sure your developers are equipped with a Learning Management System (LMS) that allow them to take advantage of the latest trends.
Next, read the fine print! An excellent LMS can still introduce unnecessary training costs if you don’t have a good handle on the “T’s & C’s”. Before committing to an LMS, check the vendor’s pricing per number of users, per month, or per course.
Finally, if the vendor offers quality, comprehensive support, then you won’t need LMS support staff – yet another cost avoided. Better vendor support also means that less time is lost when developers run into tech issues.
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3. Build an experienced, well-balanced team
Finding the balance of skills required within the team can be tricky, even without the pressures of a tight schedule and limited budget. To avoid unnecessary eLearning development costs, understand the various skills amongst your team members, and take proactive steps to keep the team effective.
Start by doing a good old SWOT analysis of your eLearning development team. New tech and project requirements can be categorized as opportunities and threats. How does your team measure up to the task for each of them? Do they need new skills to complete the project to spec, or do you need to hire someone new to plug a skills gap?
Then, carefully consider the balance of skills and experience in the team. Are inexperienced employees given easy access to the experience of more senior developers? When inexperienced team members are given the wrong responsibilities or too little supervision, needless eLearning costs (such as productivity issues or costly mistakes) quickly pile up.
4. Be wise, content-wise
Costs creep in whenever content production is delayed. A delay in content production quickly dominoes into delays across the board. Content can be delayed for several reasons, including unexpected employee leave, reworks, misunderstandings, tech issues, and problems with subject matter experts.
Keep a couple of contingency plans in your pocket for when the unexpected happens. For example, know which team members can cover for a team member out on sick leave. It’s also a good idea to review content regularly during development in order to minimize the risk of doubling up production costs with rework.
Expert input might be essential for accurate content, but subject matter experts can drive up eLearning costs. Rather, try to establish retainer agreements with industry experts you’ll need for several programs, and build healthy relationships in your industry to build goodwill. If experts feel that working with you is an opportunity, they’re likely to charge less and be more cooperative.
5. Allocate budget for the unsexy stuff
Who doesn’t love talking about maintenance and revisions? Turns out, almost everyone. Unfortunately, overlooking the need to keep your courses in ship-shape quickly adds up to unnecessary eLearning development costs.
Training development is not a one-time event. Instead, all eLearning material requires regular maintenance in order to stay relevant and functional. It helps to allocate time to check that all interactive components (e.g. videos or quizzes) are still working as they should be, and update content to keep up with industry changes.
Feedback is essential to improving the learner experience, too. But learner surveys and other feedback mechanisms require time and expertise to develop. So plan this into ongoing costing. Neglecting to improve content and not collecting feedback is a one-way ticket to a declining ROI on your training budget.
6. Schedule for enough time
Oh, yes. Time is money. But while running out of development time is not an option, perfectly timing each stage of the development process can be challenging, too.
For example, by rushing the needs analysis process, it’s more likely that major parts of the program will need to be revised at a later stage. And unplanned rework can mean major budget losses. On the other hand, a long and time-consuming needs analysis process will leave less time for development. This could mean that you’ll need a bigger team to meet deadlines, which could also increase training costs.
So, take a balanced approach. Schedule time to take a fine-toothed comb to your development schedule. If time’s especially tight, features like gamification or extensive animations probably aren’t possible. If specific time-consuming components are essential to meeting the needs of the project, negotiate a more generous schedule, or add resources to spread out the load.
Dodge avoidable training costs to get the most out of your budget
Don’t let your training budget slip away because of unnecessary costs. eLearning course development costs can be optimized through careful consideration of factors like budget, planning, team structure, content production, technology choices, and smart scheduling.
Follow the tips here to claw back your budget, so that you can invest it where it really matters.
Originally published on: 18 Jul 2018