Budgeting is a critical part of planning an e-learning program. It ensures that money is spent on the more essential aspects of the program and saved from unnecessary add-ons. This balance helps create a successful e-learning course without sacrificing too much of the financial resources of the company or school.
It is achieved by setting clear objectives and knowing the different areas and services where the money goes. Without these, the odds are that the eLearning program will be overpriced and ineffective.
Utilising a Budget on eLearning
According to the 2020 Training Industry Report published by Training Magazine, the mean budget a small company allocates for the training of its employees amounts to $506,819 per annum. That translates to an average spend of $1,111 for each learner.
An effective employee training program reflects the overall positive performance of the company. It improves customer and employee retention, boosts sales, and increases overall profitability. The training needs of the employees of a company will vary according to the type of business it is involved in, and consequently, the budget allocated for training.
As a guide, a company should be allocating 2-2.5% of the company’s salary budget for training. Medium to large organisations will invest more, around 2 – 5% of the salary budget — which may not be very feasible for small companies.
For a business to maximise the cost efficiencies, effectiveness, and productivity of the training, it is vital to carefully plan and allocate the budget. It must be a separate line item in its annual budget plan instead of being just a luxury option when there is a surplus. Furthermore, to maximise the returns of the investment, the actual training program must be appropriately constructed.
When planning an eLearning budget, consider the following areas:
1. eLearning goals
The context and situation will dictate the types of goals and impact the budget. There are two main types of goals to consider – Performance Goals & Learning Goals.
- Performance Goals
Under this category, the employees already have a good grasp of the knowledge required to complete their tasks. They will be looking for opportunities to practice, review their performance, and identify their weaknesses to rectify or improve them.
- Learning Goals
Under the “learning goal orientation” category, employees will be actively looking to acquire new information, skills and improving their capabilities. Most suitable for situations where a business or an organisation wishes to build awareness or shared knowledge.
2. Define the project scope
Keep the scope of the topics within the target result. Properly defining and limiting the project scope maximises the returns on the budget spent and allows learners to grasp concepts and retain the information more effectively quickly.
3. Maintenance plan
An eLearning maintenance plan pertains to a project deliverable that considers future changes required to keep the course material updated. Carefully building this will significantly cut future costs for course material revisions.
4. Re-use existing materials
Before investing in brand new materials, make sure to first check for the availability of reusable training materials. These include videos, textbooks, guides, and manuals that are still relevant to the eLearning program.
5. Calculate software cost
Estimate how much to allocate for the eLearning authoring tools and other content production software(s). Look into ways to lessen this cost by understanding the services needed for the eLearning material development.
6. Calculate internal cost
Determine how much time and effort required for the planning team, trainers, subject matter experts, technical staff, and other services to support the actual training. Add this cost when estimating the eLearning budget.
7. Implementation time
A short training period will cost less. However, it is vital to make sure that the quality of the training is not compromised. Provide the learners enough time to digest the course materials but not too much to entail unnecessary costs.
What Returns to Expect
Developing an eLearning task is a team effort. When outsourced to eLearning professionals, the money will compensate for the time and expertise of the professionals.
The costs for an eLearning course development vary from project to project, but the following are the main areas of budget utilisation.
1. Planning & Consulting
A scenario pertains to the script that the learning material follows. It is an essential element that makes the e-learning experience entertaining and fun.
Instructional designers will be responsible for its development. These experts specialise in developing training programs founded on the psychology of how people learn and appropriate pedagogical methods.
2. Instructional & Creative Design
The instructional and creative design includes all the visual elements in the e-learning materials, such as texts, pictures, illustrations, and colour schemes.
Not to be taken lightly, it is the designer’s job to deliver the precise combination of the elements and shape the content of the learning material to make it easy to read, highlight important points to remember, and direct the learners’ attention towards a specific idea.
3. Content Production
These services pertain to further elements included in the e-learning material to make it even more relevant and effective for the students or employees. These include motion design, voice-over, video production, animation, among others.
4. Quality Assurance
A QC team will now conduct the necessary processes defined in the QA process to discover any other outstanding bugs and possible issues to rectify before deploying the module.
The development stage is a critical point where the technical team will convert and consolidate the various components into an eLearning format, typically a SCORM module. The SCORM module is next, deployed into an organisation’s LMS (learning management system).
An outsourced eLearning program does not always have to be financially draining. Of course, your company needs to allocate a considerable amount of money for it but it shouldn’t be unnecessarily expensive.
Understanding the elements that affect the eLearning budget makes a big difference. You can maximise your training returns without having to break your bank with proper planning and efficient implementation.
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