Why eLearning Development Ratios Can be Hazardous to Your Career.
Dashe & Thomson
NOVEMBER 15, 2010
Social Learning Blog Training and Performance Improvement in the Real World Home About Bios Subscribe to RSS Why eLearning Development Ratios Can be Hazardous to Your Career by Jon on November 15, 2010 in budgeting , eLearning Brandon Hall , in partnership with Chapman Alliance , recently published the results of its latest survey about eLearning development ratios. Based on survey responses from nearly 4,000 learning professionals at 249 companies, the survey provides the average time required to produce one hour of training of various types: Learning Type Development Ratio Instructor-Led Training (ILT) 43:1 Level 1 eLearning (Basic) 79:1 Level 2 eLearning (Interactive) 184:1 Level 3 eLearning (Advanced) 490:1 These numbers can be very helpful when used to estimate staffing levels for a training department, or gauging resource requirements across multiple projects. More often than not, however, these guidelines can be dangerously misleading. Before you commit to delivering a project based on these ratios (or buying services from someone based on them), it is useful to keep a few things in mind about eLearning Development Ratios: 1. Economies of Scale – the more material you produce for a single project, the less time each unit/module/course will take to develop (this might seem so obvious that it doesn’t need mentioning, but the story below illustrates why it bears repeating) 2. Subject Matter Matter s – These surveys do a good job of accounting for varying levels of course complexity. However, there they don’t include much discussion about the learning subject matter itself. A course on thermodynamics will clearly take significantly longer than one on basic office procedures. 3. Who’s Doing the Work – Skilled training developers will write and develop training faster than less experienced ones – frequently by a factor of two, three, or even more. A quick story to illustrate the point above about Economies of Scale: A couple of years ago, a client asked us to estimate how long it would take to develop both classroom and eLearning materials for 44 learning modules. The content had to be gathered from SMEs in North America, Europe, and Asia. The subject matter – teaching consultants how to configure ERP software – was unusually complex. Initially we told our client the project was too big to estimate without first performing some kind of assessment. “There’s no time for an assessment” said the client, “We need to plug a number into the budget!” After much wrangling, we came up with a number that knocked our client off his chair. Without getting too specific, it was over $500,000. (Keep in mind, we were talking about 44 hours of learner time – developed in both instructor-led and eLearning formats). So, what to do when a “boutique vendor” (our client’s label for us) gives you a number that sounds outrageously high? Simple: Off-shore it! The client engaged a vendor with development resources in India. At this point,we figured we were toast. Then, something unexpected happened. Our off-shore competitor, whose development rate we later learned an thrifty-sounding $20/hour, came in with a surprising bid: $2 million. How did the offshore vendor come up with such an astoundingly high estimate? Simple: they figured out how long it would take to develop one hour of eLearning, and one hour of instructor-led training, and multiplied it by 44. Our model, on the other hand, took into account the content of each learning module, and a significant reduction in development time per module as we progressed through the material. In the end, our estimate was based on a plan that had us producing Module 44 in less than one-fifth the time it took to develop module 1. Most learning professionals understand the point I’m making about economies of scale in estimating projects – but the size of the project described here really underscores how big a difference can be made by paying attention to quantity in addition to quality. Blog this! Bookmark on Delicious Digg this post Recommend on Facebook Buzz it up Share on Linkedin share via Reddit Share with Stumblers Tweet about it Subscribe to the comments on this post Print for later Bookmark in Browser Tell a friend Tags: budgeting , elearning , project management About Jon I have been involved in enterprise learning, in big companies and. less big companies, for more than 20 years. My learning philosophy: dont make people tote around loads of information in their heads just so you can say you trained them. Instead, tell them where to get the information they need, when they need it. I like to read, make films and play guitar (in private). I am a member of the Dashe & Thomson running and biking teams, and captain of its small but emerging chess team. More about me here. View all posts by Jon → ← eLearning Review: A Module for the National Security Arena Training vs. Learning and the Role of Mobile Devices → Download Free Whitepaper The Top 10 Pitfalls of End User Training – and How to Avoid Them Given the current state of the economy, businesses large and small are looking for ways to improve productivity while maintaining quality. Download the whitepaper » Blog this! Bookmark on Delicious Digg this post Recommend on Facebook Buzz it up Share on Linkedin share via Reddit Share with Stumblers Tweet about it Subscribe to the comments on this post Print for later Bookmark in Browser Tell a friend 2 Responses to “Why eLearning Development Ratios Can be Hazardous to Your Career Beth Murphy December 11, 2010 at 8:18 am # VERY informative article. Thank you so much. Mo Yang February 15, 2011 at 3:26 pm # Very true! I appreciate that you took into account the subject matter complexity. Many times, as the instructional designer, people forget that we have to get somewhat familiar with the subject matter itself to even begin to ask the right questions from the SME. Leave a Reply Click here to cancel reply. Search the blog Popular Latest Comments Tags Web-Based, Instructor-Led, EPSS? Train Your Client On Training January 31, 2011 Leveraging the Law of the Few to Manage Change in the Workplace February 21, 2011 Analyzing the ROI of Social Media in Training May 3, 2011 Why eLearning Development Ratios Can be Hazardous to Your Career November 15, 2010 eLearning Review: A Module for the National Security Arena October 15, 2010 Virtual Boot-Camp: Games and Learning with the U.S. Military May 19, 2011 Give User Adoption the Respect it Deserves May 17, 2011 How Social Networks Can Harness the Power of Weak Ties May 11, 2011 Addressing On-Demand Learning and Performance Needs #LCBQ May 9, 2011 Why Companies Should Spend More on Social Learning May 5, 2011 Gregg Sean: Nice review of the topic , I was seeking to see wh. Rob Mueller: Great post on using games as a training device. Pe. Jim: Glad you enjoyed the post, Liam! It is amazing ho. Liam McCoy: Thanks for this. Ive been looking for some ammo t. Jim: Glad you found the post helpful, Jeff! Properly d. blended learning budgeting Classroom Learning classroom training customer service Donald Kirkpatrick elearning ERP Training Facebook Facilitation feedback ILT Informal Learning innovation instructional design instructor-led training interactive learning Jane Bozarth JIT learning Kanye West LinkedIn LMS marketing MNISPI mobile learning peer-to-peer learning performance support project management Robert Brinkerhoff sales social learning social learning theory social media subject matter experts Success Case Method surveys synchronous system implementation training temporary staffing Training Development Twitter video web-based training Wikis youtube Email Alerts Follow Us! Tweets Follow @dashethomson on Twitter Download Free Whitepaper The Top 10 Pitfalls of End User Training – and How to Avoid Them Given the current state of the economy, businesses large and small are looking for ways to improve productivity while maintaining quality. Download the whitepaper » Blog this! Bookmark on Delicious Digg this post Recommend on Facebook Buzz it up Share on Linkedin share via Reddit Share with Stumblers Tweet about it Subscribe to the comments on this post Print for later Bookmark in Browser Tell a friend Other Learning Blogs Andrew McAfee’s Blog The Rapid eLearning Blog Big Dog, Little Dog Bozarthzone Discovery Through eLearning E-learning Curve Blog eLearning Roadtrip The Learning Generalist ID and Other Reflections The eLearning Coach Harold Jarche: Life in Perpetual Beta Weejee Learning Making Change: Ideas for Lively eLearning Corporate eLearning Strategies and Development eLearning Technology The Learning Circuits Blog Cammy Bean’s Learning Visions Kapp Notes Internet Time Blog Will at Work Learning eLearning Learning Dave’s Whiteboard Communication Nation Categories blended learning (7) budgeting (2) Classroom Learning (8) customer service (3) Development Tools (4) EHR Training (1) eLearning (13) ERP Training (2) Facilitation (2) feedback (2) Gaming Theory (2) Informal Learning (15) Innovation (1) Instructional Design (10) Leadership (1) LMS (Learning Management System) (3) marketing (2) mobile learning (3) Organizational Change Management (2) performance support (8) Project Management/Project Delivery (6) Reviews (2) sales (3) social learning (27) Social Media (1) subject matter experts (3) system implementation training (3) Temporary staffing (1) Training Development (9) user adoption (1) Video (5) Wikis (3) Archives May 2011 (6) April 2011 (12) March 2011 (13) February 2011 (7) January 2011 (9) December 2010 (7) November 2010 (2) October 2010 (1) September 2010 (1) February 2010 (1) © 2011 Social Learning Blog. All Rights Reserved. Visit us at dashe.com