eLearning Design and Development

Choosing an eLearning Vendor: What to Consider

When you’re on the hunt for a digital learning vendor to help you create, refine, and curate better training, you probably already know some of the important things to look for, like a robust portfolio of clients or an organization that will listen to you and create the learning you’ve envisioned. 

But while you’re turning over each proverbial stone to find the vendor best for you, you might be missing some of the key factors. By vetting a vendor fully, you’ll find the learning company that gives you the best results. Consider the following factors before beginning your search:

1. Asking the Right Questions

Any reputable learning vendor will ask some of the right questions. They’ll want to know about past training initiatives and what content you already have on hand, and they’ll grill you about your learning goals.

But what about how you want your learners to feel? What’s your current workplace culture like? What should learners take away once they’ve completed a course?

These are some of the questions that typical eLearning companies aren’t asking. You’re not looking for just a vendor; you’re looking for a learning partner to take your content, training, and goals and create something truly impactful.

Look for a partner that is proactive in creating solutions and not just dressing up the same old eLearning programs for every client.

2. Following the Right Process

When a learning company wants to shoehorn your problem into one of their pre-existing solutions, it’s painfully obvious that you’re not getting individual treatment. Avoid that by taking a closer look at their overall process. How do you go from your first meetings to a finished product you love?

At ELM, we use a process called blueprinting to create individual solutions for clients.

By sitting down and communicating about general ideas and then using those to map out learning and create a completely customized experience, we get better results. Your digital learning partner should be as concerned (if not more concerned) with the journey as they are with the destination.

3. Offering the Right Services

One learning vendor rarely offers all the services that you need under one roof. They might be able to design what you want, but what about branding and messaging? We know that the best digital learning plays into your company’s culture and utilizes specific branding that enhances recall. Your learning should feel like a part of your business, not some add-on supplement.

Luckily, we utilize all the members of our team to offer an end-to-end partner experience. More and more organizations come to ELM to brand their learning, not just create programs. By working with communications in the learning and development arena, we’re not just creating digital learning; we’re creating digital learning for the right learner. Later, branded images and experiences become learning triggers because they’re targeted to the right people.

Not all learning vendors are created equally, which is why we prefer to consider ourselves learning partners. Instead of a standalone service, ELM offers a way to reorganize and overhaul your learning efforts to get the best results. By asking about these factors the next time you’re looking for a partner, you’ll find a learning company that truly creates smart, beautiful designs for your organization.

How to Choose an eLearning Vendor 

Now that we’ve talked about what to consider in your search, let’s look at some of the best ways to choose an eLearning vendor. 

1. Talk With a Full-Time eLearning Vendor

If you want to have high-quality educational content for your company, we recommend you talk with a full-time eLearning vendor. For part-time vendors, developing course content is not the core part of their business, so your project won’t get the kind of attention it deserves. On the other hand, a full-time eLearning course vendor will give their full attention and expertise to your project. Moreover, full-time eLearning vendors possess in-depth knowledge of course creation that will be highly beneficial for you.

2. Check the Previous Work of the eLearning Vendor 

Checking the past work and case studies of the eLearning vendor is crucial. Just like an employer reviews resumes of prospective employees before hiring them, you should also check the past work of the vendors before giving them your project. This will give you a better idea about their style, creative expertise, and knowledge, which, in turn, will allow you to figure out whether the vendor is the right fit for developing your course content or not. 

3. Discuss the Terms of Payment Beforehand 

Another important aspect of choosing an eLearning vendor is the monetary part. Prior to making any decisions, ensure that everything is crystal clear and there is no confusion between the concerned parties. Also, be sure to discuss any out-of-scope issues that may arise and create a plan for how you’d handle them. 

Hiring an eLearning Vendor: Process

1. List Your eLearning Requirements 

Make a list of your project requirements before you begin the hiring process. Research your organization’s L&D requirements and write down all your project needs and expectations. Be sure to list project specifications, including things like audio-visual elements, graphic requirements, media production, instructional design, and so on. 

Doing this will enable you to effectively communicate your project needs with the prospective vendor, allowing them to be in a better position to decide whether they can fulfill those requirements or not. This will save time and resources. 

2. Ask for Work Samples

Once you have selected some of the prospective eLearning vendors, ask for their work samples and thoroughly analyze them. If possible, request the prospective vendors provide you with samples similar to your project. 

In this way, you will be able to understand the quality of content they create. This will also enable you to review their performance, skill sets, and course development capabilities. Put a checkmark next to each requirement and give preference to the vendor whose work samples, quality, and skills are the best fit. 

3. Describe the Project Goals 

Once you have reviewed the work samples, you’ll have a pretty clear idea of the vendor you want to hire. If you still have multiple potential eLearning vendors, schedule a meeting/interview and talk to them about your project goals.

Explain the scope of the project and what you want to achieve with it. Do you want to reach a wider audience or do you want to enhance the training of your employees? Is the project meant for onboarding purposes or will it be a part of your main L&D curriculum? Then, ask questions related to your goals. This will allow you to better understand each vendor’s work ethic, values, and experience with projects similar to yours. 

4. Discuss Project Development Timelines and Payment Terms

Finally, talk about the estimated timelines for the development of all the eLearning course elements. Ask the vendor to provide you with project development timelines from beginning to end and a cost breakdown for each element. See if it matches your estimated time of project delivery and your budget.

If it doesn’t, ask for timeline adjustments and/or special accommodations. Always ensure you understand where the vendor is coming from with their estimates. It could be that there is an extra step in the process that you left out in your planning phase! When both sides agree on the timeline, discuss the payment terms and get the required documents signed. 


The quality of the eLearning your company provides reflects your brand. Choosing the right eLearning vendor for your projects is key to eLearning that fully engages your learners and immerses them in your unique style and culture. Take the extra time to ask the right questions and have the right conversations when choosing your eLearning vendor.  For more information about everything related to eLearning, stay connected to ELM learning