How to Select an e-Learning Company
There are many e-learning companies to choose from, as any Google search will show. Simple searches for "e-learning companies" will turn up thousands of page results and e-learning directories of companies. So how can you determine which e-learning company will best fit your needs?
How Does SilkWeb Compare to Other e-Learning Companies?
As a leading e-learning company and corporate training provider, SilkWeb has a proven record of helping our clients improve learning performance through custom e-learning and training solutions. At SilkWeb, we take the time to get to know our clients, our learners, and their organizations. We care about our clients, and we have established enduring relationships because we adapt and address their ever-changing needs. Developing a learning course does not merely mean transferring your existing word documents or PDF files online. More than that, it means transforming your current course material into visually aesthetic and functionally rich content that can provide learners with an engaging, immersive, and exciting learner experience that leads to the right outcomes. For this, select an e-learning company that has an experienced instructional design team that can transform your existing course material and make it available for online consumption across any LMS platform.
Criteria for Selecting an e-Learning Company
There are many e-learning companies to choose from, as any Google search will show. Simple searches for "e-learning companies" will turn up thousands of page results and e-learning directories of companies. So how can you determine which e-learning company will best fit your needs? Essential items to consider when choosing an e-learning vendor from the hundreds of e-learning companies available include:
SELECTION CRITERIA. Establish a list of selection criteria based on your company's immediate and future needs. You can conduct a Google search using key terms for the type of training that you are looking to build. For example, if you want to develop training to onboard new employees, then you might search for "employee onboarding training." If you are interested in developing soft skills training, then you will want to specify the type of soft skills training you are looking to provide to your employees. Using such terms as Business Writing or "team management training" can help you narrow down your list of vendors. If you are looking for sexual harassment training for US employees, then you will want to focus your Google search so that you select a vendor who is familiar with the laws and state regulations in the US.
EXPERTISE AND KNOWLEDGE. Focus on asking questions about vendors' expertise and knowledge in the area in which you want to develop content. If you are looking to create training related to healthcare or pharmaceuticals, it does not make sense to choose a vendor who has never worked in those areas. This is because your subject matter experts will spend a fair amount of time educating the vendor's instructional designers in the correct and appropriate language and jargon related to the field. You can make better use of your staff's time by selecting from e-learning companies that have experience delivering the type of training that you are looking to build.
REPUTATION AND REFERENCES. Ask around about the e-learning companies that you have shortlisted. Be sure to verify all the e-learning companies' online reputation and ask for references from past and current clientele. Don't be shy when it comes to asking for vendor references. Any reputable e-learning company should be able to provide you with at least 2 to 3 current or past references that can speak to their knowledge and expertise. Be wary of companies who won't give you business references or if those references all seem new. It's not uncommon for companies to perform single projects or "one-offs," and this is a warning that the vendor has difficulty establishing long-term client relationships or that their work is unsatisfactory. It takes considerable time and research to select a competent e-learning company, and most managers don't want to continually be switching vendors out unless there is an issue with the vendor's work.
SKILLS REQUIRED. Examine the skill set offered by your list of e-learning companies and make sure that you select the best match for what you require. For example, you may be awed and inspired by an e-learning company's work in 3-D design, but if your budget and project guidelines don't require 3-D modeling, then it's not a necessary skill set. Instead, you may want to focus on the work that the e-learning company has created in your field of expertise and ask to see examples of their work that are representative of your budget and timeline. Keep in mind that a vendor may build beautiful-looking courseware, but that same product may lack the instructional design expertise needed to make your training effective. Good instructional design is built upon a foundation of methodologies geared toward adult learning and uses technologies that are accessible so that learners may focus on the content being delivered. Without sound instructional design behind them, some e-learning courses are just window dressing.
FLEXIBILITY AND AVAILABILITY. Determine the level of flexibility and availability of each e-learning company. If you have an immediate project that requires a short development timeframe, then you will want to focus on those e-learning companies that offer flexibility and availability. Determine the level of flexibility and availability of each e-learning company. If you have an immediate project that requires a short development timeframe, then you will want to focus on those e-learning companies which can meet the timeline expected.
COST AND HOURLY RATES. Some companies will try to convince you that you need to pay a higher fee to ensure your deadline is met. This should be a warning bell for you to look elsewhere. Any reputable e-learning company should be able to provide you with a project rate card. Unless you have a project that needs development within 2 weeks, you should not expect or be required to pay a higher premium for e-learning services. You will also want to consider carefully any company that quotes you hourly rates for the projects that you need. Project costs can quickly escalate when you are being charged an hourly rate. For example, you should not have to pay a vendor to train their employees on how to use your LMS platform. However, this is a common occurrence with companies that charge an hourly rate. It is a common practice for some companies to charge what seems like a very low hourly rate, say $15-$30 per hour only to charge you an escalated sum based on the hours of work their staff has put toward your project. These sums often include project management hours, internal meetings about the project, and hours spent learning about the content area and becoming familiar with your particular LMS. These types of costs will quickly surpass any "project quote or firm-fixed-fee" you would receive from a reputable e-learning company. An experienced e-learning company will be able to provide you with a fair estimate of the time and money involved in your project after discussing the details with you.