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Leveraging Strategic Partners in L&D to Meet Business Expectations

September 7, 2021 | By David Wentworth


Learning leaders have always known that to be a partner to the business, they need to focus on the strategic side of Learning & Development. However, the learning function is typically bogged down in the day-to-day, transactional aspects of L&D, as well as keeping track of costs. At the same time, the L&D budget has been under tremendous strain with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Spending is down overall and organizations are having to offer much more digital learning, but with much less budget available to them. More than 40% of companies in Brandon Hall Group’s State of Learning Practices Study say their L&D budget has decreased as a direct result of the pandemic — some by more than 50%.

In light of this, organizations must recognize many pieces of L&D management can be outsourced and not solely in the name of cutting costs, either.

A strategic partner can help L&D teams match the ebb and flow of today’s dynamic workplace while maintaining their strategic role in the business. One of the key areas where this is true is content development.

A strategic partner can provide L&D teams with precise expertise that may not exist within the organization. Someone internally might be able to fill the basic need when required, but it may not be their full-time area. These strategic partners provide access to specialists and subject matter experts in the moment of need. For example, a company may want to leverage gamification for learning, but no one on staff is a professional game designer and they don’t need games created all the time. Rather than have someone with partial knowledge attempt the design, an outsourcing partner can leverage a gamification specialist when needed.

The right partner can help in-house training teams with more than just content development. The skills these partners bring to a relationship can also help training teams realign their focus on continuing to make L&D more strategic to the business.

While traditional L&D outsourcing models leveraged external partnerships primarily for content development, these partner organizations now have a broader array of expertise, above and beyond content development. In-house L&D teams typically “borrow” generalist expertise from various departments sections within the organization to deliver end-to-end training — from vision to implementation. While it is a practical approach, having an organizational partner who specializes in each aspect delivers better and more coordinated results. External partners bring end-to-end, full-cycle L&D experiences and best practices to the table.

Brandon Hall Group Smartchoice Platinum Preferred Provider EI has spent decades supporting clients with content development skills and processes that many companies do not have available internally. And rather than acting as a source of offshore labor arbitrage, EI becomes a partner, focused on meeting the unique needs of each client. Some of the things EI brings to their partnerships:

  • They have years of experience using cutting-edge learning tools, technologies and methodologies to serve their clients. And each client benefits from the cumulative effort of all of EI’s partnerships — something that would be impossible to replicate internally.
  • L&D team members have to wear many hats in today’s environment, so much so that it becomes nearly impossible to hone expertise in just one area. EI’s partnership gives companies access to a wide array of learning content experts.
  • Things typically move so rapidly within organizations that L&D teams must move quickly from one project to the next, leaving previous programs behind. A partnership with EI design means more follow-through and continuous measurement and evolution of learning programs.
  • The support EI provides their partners with more space and opportunity to accelerate innovation and experimentation within L&D.

To learn more about what a strategic partnerships can bring to your L&D team, read more from EI here.

David Wentworth
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