The organisational desire to cut supplier costs has made ‘supplier management’ the up-and-coming focus area for learning outsourcing, according to managed learning specialist KnowledgePool.

KnowledgePool’s research indicates that 77% of organisations currently outsource some aspects of their learning provision and 5% outsource all learning activities. Only 18% of organisations do not outsource any of their learning, down from 31% in 2007.

“The market for learning outsourcing continues to grow as organisations strive to gain cost reductions, a wider range of learning options and access to best practice and the latest technology,” said Kevin Lovell, Learning Strategy Director at KnowledgePool. “The design, development and delivery of training is still the most likely learning activity to be outsourced but there has been significant growth in the areas of supplier management, training administration and the operation of learning management systems.”

KnowledgePool’s figures show that since 2007, the number of organisations using external providers for supplier management has increased from 8% to 27%, while the number of organisations using external vendors to operate learning management systems has increased from 10% to 27%.

“Large organisations often use several hundred suppliers to meet their learning needs and this entails a lot of work to find and manage the right suppliers,” said Kevin Lovell. “It’s not considered strategic but it is vital to get the expertise and quality you need, without paying over the odds. There are thousands of training suppliers in the UK alone, and it’s just as important to find a small specialist supplier as finding a very large one. Many organisations have begun to realise they need to outsource this work to an expert in the field, to get the selection advice they need. Supplier management, together with training administration and the management of learning technology form the core of a vendor-independent managed learning service, which can reduce the total cost of learning by up to 30%.”

Lovell believes the growth in outsourcing of the operation of learning technology is driven by L&D teams wanting a single portal that simplifies the administration tasks and provides them with the reporting data they so desperately crave.

“Too often, L&D teams find themselves with a mix of different systems that don’t talk to each other and which struggle to give them even basic reporting,” he said. “Outsourcing offers a solution to this.
The right partner can take care of the technicalities and they will also understand the needs of L&D and the business, both in terms of functionality as well as the management information which drives effective decision-making.”

A market insight report on learning outsourcing can be downloaded free from KnowledgePool’s website:

For more information, please call KnowledgePool on 0870 320 9000 or e-mail