BudgetingDesign and Production Process

eLearning for Manufacturers: 8 Production Cost Cutters to Avoid

When cutting eLearning development corners comes back to bite you

When developing courseware, just like in manufacturing, there is always pressure to produce in a timely, cost-effective manner. At times, this pressure can cause us in the manufacturing world to make hard choices and cuts.

Be cautious with the methods that you eventually employ to save time and money. Some will prove to be effective solutions and others may just backfire in the long-run. Keep in mind, the course will be in use long after your budget savings is remembered. In the long run it’s better to produce an effective product that your department can be proud of.

Over the years I have worked with companies in this difficult position many times. I have learned that although tempting, there are some cuts that should definitely be avoided if possible:

  1. Skimping on analysis
    It is unlikely that you have the time to conduct a full analysis for every course you develop, but key tasks such as defining the audience, setting course goals and specifying the technical environment cannot be cut without risking the integrity of the course.
  1. Developing a “one size fits all” program
    Sometimes organizations feel they can maximize their return on investment by multi-purposing their course. An e-learning program is designed for a very specific audience, purpose and delivery method. If you try to extend the use of the program to other arenas like marketing or HR, it diminishes the effectiveness of the program.
  1. Wearing all the hats
    Sometimes there is no other option, but when possible, assemble a team of professionals to produce your e-learning. A team of 3 or more is preferred. You can then share ideas and divide up tasks into duties such as Instructional Designer, Media Production Specialist and Programmer.
  1. Using a non-professional narrator
    I can’t count how many times a client has told us they can save on the narrator cost because they have a co-worker, boss, friend or uncle who has a great voice (translation: they are a smoker) and that the office closet is a fine audio booth. Amateur talent takes considerably longer to record and edit and the end product is usually noticeably inferior.
  1. Using a smartphone to record video
    In certain isolated instances a smartphone may be an acceptable option for video, but it is not advisable to rely on your phone as the norm. Smartphone video is shaky, can’t be zoomed or focused and is generally not well lit.
  1. Cutting your testing time
    E-Learning production is quite often delayed at the front end of the project and it’s tempting for managers to attempt to speed up delivery by cutting some testing time. Testing in this mobile world is critical. You are taking great risks shortcutting the testing process. Courses should be thoroughly tested on the actual production LMS and the end deliverable platform. Programs with performance issues frustrate learners and give your department a bad rep.
  1. Using copyrighted material
    This is legal thin ice. Never use copyrighted music, written material, pictures or any other resources without checking with legal counsel.
  1. “Updating” an old, worn-out course
    It’s one thing to update content in a course developed two years ago. But attempting to do a ‘simple makeover” on a course that was developed more than five years ago for a different platform is usually not worth the effort. Because of the potential pitfalls in terms of old software and delivery platforms, it is best to create a new course.

We’re all looking for ways to be more efficient with both time and money. Think long term when making decisions to cut corners.

Ron Trilling
Author of Learning Lines | Founder and Partner, at Media Dynamics
Ron is a great source of information when it comes to eLearning. He has a background in instructional design and has worked with many companies to help develop their eLearning content and courses.
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