In an earlier post, I wrote about why companies use outsourcing (or right-sourcing) to accomplish certain functions that they don’t have the internal resources to accomplish. We look at four primary reasons why a company would outsource.
Now, let’s look at some typical scenarios – particularly in pharmaceutical sales training – where outsourcing is (or should be) employed.
- Development of training materials – this is the most common practice. Very few, if any, pharmaceutical companies have the research, writing, editing, graphical design, instructional design, and production expertise in-house to produce in-depth learning systems. Larger companies will often have sufficient internal resources to produce smaller-scale nuggets of training, but major programs are regularly outsourced.
- Technology solutions – often, large pharma companies will have the internal IT and administrative resources to support an installation of major learning technology programs, but it is becoming increasingly common to outsource these platforms – not only the hosting of them, but sometimes even administration (“running” the system). Learning management systems, assessment management systems, webcasting programs, etc….these solutions are now often available in a turnkey approach that is far more affordable, and less of a drain on internal employees.
- Strategic expertise – another word for consulting. Because many of those in sales training are on a “rotation” and are not deeply immersed in training design, it can be quite valuable to bring in outside resources who can provide a broader and more strategic approach. Many departments get invariably caught in the vortex of tactical thinking, due to day-to-day demands, and there is not enough time or knowledge to take a longer-range view.
- Facilitation of programs – while most companies seek to develop trainers that can facilitate live training, often there is simply not enough headcount, or no expertise in particular areas of knowledge/practice. Some very good companies (and some not-so-good companies) make their living providing this service.
There are other situations where outsourcing makes sense, but these are some of the typical ones. Part of my role as a consultant is to help my clients make optimal decisions about right-sourcing – what should be sourced to external vendor/partners, and which ones are best. That is where broad knowledge and an extensive network makes the difference.