The 5 Biggest Reasons Internal Development Teams Fail When Building an e-Learning Product

Ryan Casey
April 6, 2023 | 6 min

With business environments evolving to more remote work, e-Learning is more and more looked upon to do the heavy lifting for training and testing. For those with internal development teams, it is often the obvious choice to design and create platforms in-house. But experience proves this may be a path to less than satisfactory results in time, money and effectiveness. Here are five reasons internal development teams often fail to produce the desired results:

Reason 1: Development Performance and Delays

If an in-house development team builds a training product, it's reasonable to assume that this same team has several more projects in their queue. Training products could be a low priority compared to other internal development projects, or they could be re-prioritized when another high-priority project is introduced. In some cases, training software could be shelved until other projects are completed. It's common for developers to work with a few projects at a time, which also leads to unforeseen delays.

Even if the development team deploys a workable e-learning system, it needs maintenance and upgrades. Should the project get put on the back burner, it means quality suffers as developers don't maintain it and support bug fixes. Any project left in disrepair loses trust with users and leads to an insufficient training program.

Reason 2: No Visibility into Costs and Time

Costs and developer time are difficult to rein in, especially with a busy development team working on several projects. Agile methodologies attempt to alleviate much of the overhead and disorganization, but they can't be the only solution. Depending on the business location, developers can cost up to $200,000 per year plus benefits. Wasting their time with needless delays costs money that could be budgeted in a more effective way.

Most organizations employ time management strategies, but these often lack accountability and visibility into unforeseen issues such as project delays, meetings, critical bug fixes, and any other delays that sidetrack developer focus. Even in an agile environment, deadlines are often extended due to unforeseen circumstances, some of which are not the fault of the development team.

Reason 3: Slow Performance for Low-Priority Projects

In-house developers often have other projects to prioritize, not to mention company meetings to attend. When customer-facing software needs maintenance or bug fixes, it often takes priority over changes or maintenance of in-house training projects. This means that development could be slow and take much longer than it needs to. A number of reasons can cause slow performance, but all of them translate into costly delays.

Reason 4: Small Changes Take Additional Developer Time

Every developer knows that deploying a project doesn't necessarily end it. The software development lifecycle (SDLC) includes continual maintenance, bug fixes, security patches, and upgrades. Any application takes at least one developer dedicated to continuing maintenance on the software. Again, developer time costs money, which means the budget must include continual changes to the deployed e- learning software.

If the developer is working on another project and must be pulled away to fix bugs on the e-learning project, it redirects their focus and delays their current project. This creates frustrating unforeseen delays that product managers struggle to control.

Reason 5: Prioritization of Technical Improvements Over New Features

On some engineering teams, developers may choose to focus on a fancy new technology, try something “new” or just work on what's important to them regardless of what the product team requested. Often referred to as to “gold plating,” it is a major time sink and does not deliver value to the customer.

Partnering with an External Software Engineering Team Often Eliminates Development Challenges

The difficulties in-house developers experience can be avoided by partnering with a software engineering firm that specializes in e-learning platform design, development, and maintenance. According to a Deloitte report, the most important outsourcing objective for organizations is to cut development costs. The challenges for in-house e-learning software development all come down to high costs, especially with a busy development team responsible for several projects.

One factor stakeholders often question is the cost of an external development team, assuming it is more expensive than internal development. However, the long-term costs are much lower. An external team will dedicate their time to the organization's e-learning project, and it's reasonable to expect double the performance compared to an overworked internal staff. So, the cost is comparable and the product is delivered sooner.

Also, an external team can complement an internal development team. The external development team can more rapidly deploy an e-learning solution and continually maintain it, giving an internal development team more time to focus on other projects. Stakeholders directly communicate with the external team, so internal developers are no longer interrupted from the project they are working on.

Some other benefits of partnering with an engineering team include:

  • Costs are clear as scope and deliverables are discussed.
  • Accountability keeps the engagement running smoothly, and both parties can continue or stop the project.
  • Specialists focused on each step in the development process bring their own experience and expertise to the project.
  • Consultants that focus on e-learning projects have years of experience to bring to a project.

Your operation faces tough decisions when it comes to building the e-learning you envision. For organizations with in-house engineers, it often seems most expedient to have them develop your e- Learning.

But it is often prudent to explore options with engineers who specialize in building e-learning platforms. By working with an experienced outside team, you may prove to find a solution that is more cost- effective, timely and effective.

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