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Learning and Development Inhouse or Outsourced?

#1.  Should Learning & Development be conducted by in-house HR professionals or shall be outsourced?

As they say, anything in extreme is never good. Hence, it’s best to have a balance of everything. Just like there should be a mix of both online and offline training (in the non-corona environment) similarly, there needs to be a healthy mix of an in-house team and external partners. Apart from being easier to set up, the advantage of the in-house team is that they would be familiar with the culture and the environment of the organisation. The solutions designed and thereby the examples they quote would be more homegrown. The employees, in turn, would find it easier to approach them with their concerns or learning challenges.

The advantage of engaging an external partner would be the exposure to the various industries that they bring since they would mostly be industry experts or influencers. They have an external world view that would bring a fresh outlook to the learners especially in terms of understanding industry trends. And this would help them to think beyond what they would normally be exposed to. This is especially true for senior-level programs. Certain times, an external partner can help to run the lower-level programs like basic soft or hard skills, so that the organisational team can focus on more core level programs. For behavior/ leadership level programs, using an external partner can help bring objectivity that may not always be present with an internal team.

There is no one over the other. It’s what solution would deliver the maximum effectiveness to a learning challenge.

#2 How do we evaluate Learning and Development effectiveness?

There are many ways to evaluate once a training program is completed. The usual way is to follow Kirkpatrick’s model of evaluation and those areas listed:

  1. Level 1 – Reaction. This would be evaluated through a simple feedback form, asking participants if they liked the training, what they liked about it, did they find it relevant, what they didn’t like about it, etc. 

  1. Level 2 – Learning. This is what assessments/ assignments measure. Answering the question of how much was the change in the knowledge level of a participant. 

  1. Level 3 – Behavior. This measures if the training had any influence on the participant’s behavior. This can be done through observations  (Manager and/or HR), Coaching (if a participant needs help), demonstrations by participants (in form of projects/ medium-term assignments), or interviews of the participant and/or manager.

  1. Level 4 – Results. This step measures the outcome of the training as against the set objectives before designing the training program. This is usually done by reporting on various metrics and is mostly referred to as ROE (Return on Expectations).

  1. Level 5 – This level is an adapted version of the model and evaluates the ROI or Return on Investment made in terms of training and productivity cost. Simply put, it measures the net program benefits to the cost of the training. This could be measured in terms of employee retention, increased production, higher morale, increased sales, and increased customer satisfaction. 

Any evaluation method needs an investment of time, some less than others. Orientation program effectiveness may not need a Level 5 evaluation; whereas a Leadership Development effectiveness would be incomplete without it. An effectiveness measurement activity can take up time, which is why the L&D team needs to be conscientious when deciding. 


Author / Educator – Melissa C D’Souza, Learning and Development Consultant

As a witness to the evolution of L&D for over 20 years, Melissa has seen the L&D fraternity move from strength to strength. Having worked with organizations like Bajaj Allianz, KPIT, WNS, Convergys, and Anibrain Digital, she has proven expertise in Leadership Development, Performance consulting and Talent Development. 

She has been a Consultant and Partner to business in people policies, change management, pipeline building, and has extensive experience in end to end training interventions. She successfully designed & facilitated virtual and in-person programs both India and abroad using classic, modern and innovative methods. She has consulted for clients like Deutsche Bank Grp., Sungard, Zensar, Principal Financial Services, L&T Infotech to name a few. Helping people grow has and will always be her passion and driving force.


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