Custom eLearning Development Costs

Custom eLearning Development Costs

Are you paying too much to have your custom e-Learning projects developed by freelancer or e-Learning company? Are you getting the quality and speed you deserve based on what you are spending for outside help? This article provides general guidance regarding how much typical eLearning companies generally charge when they are well organized, efficient, and competitively priced. Many companies charge outlandish prices only to deliver sub-par work, so this article is intended as a helpful guide in selecting the right custom eLearning company for your next project.

So how much should your custom eLearning development costs be? The answer is – it depends. There are three competing variables when it comes to the eLearning development process: TimeBudgetComplexity (or some would say “quality”). Generally you can sacrifice one of these variables in order to enjoy the benefits of the other two. For example, if you find that you wish to increase the complexity of your program you’ll have to either allow more time to get the job done or add more budget. Let’s take a look at how the above variables in a little more detail.

  • Time is a variable that is easily understood. The old adage of “haste makes waste” holds true in eLearning development. The more hurried the process, the less efficient and therefore more costly the process. You should set realistic time-lines based upon the kind of eLearning project you are developing, and not based upon an arbitrary deadline based on internal political or other factors. Giving more time results in getting higher quality,  lower costs, or a mix of the two.
  • The eLearning budget simply refers to the amount of money you have set aside for a given eLearning project. The budget should be based upon a solid understanding of the various roles and tasks required to complete a project and their hourly associated costs. As your budget decreases, so does the amount of money you can pay for highly skilled labor (Complexity/Quality) and/or the amount of time/hours you can work upon this project. Generally organizations find that business demands require that projects be completed in a timely fashion and that they adhere to budgets fixed in advance.
  • The complexity (or quality) of the eLearning project is usually the variable that is most easily controlled or changed by the eLearning project manager. If you start a highly complex project without the necessary time and budget required, and you are not likely to receive additional time or funding, then your only option is to reduce the complexity or quality of the work. Complexity includes things like the skill level of the eLearning graphic artist you may need, custom e-Learning programming for more complex interactivities, and any creative writing and intricate content design requirements like branching scenarios.  All of these items should be identified at the project start as these are the most easily controlled by you, the client, to either increase or reduce the budget and time required.

Establishing your eLearning development costs, time, and quality standards before you approach the powers that be for a budget is vitally important. Additionally, you should ensure that whoever controls funding within your organization has a realistic expectation for how much time and cost is needed to produce eLearning that make a positive impact on your learners and help you achieve your organization’s objectives.

eLearning Development Costs & Times Estimate

The following estimates are based on a highly experienced eLearning team (not an individual freelancer) creating a standard quality Level 2 eLearning course that runs 20-minutes of audio playback (3,000 words if you are not using audio). This is also based upon paying a 3rd party eLearning company to develop your course with your company providing source content (PowerPoint, training manuals, and other existing material) as well as subject matter expertise as needed. Finally, these estimates are based on typical eLearning vendors located in developed countries.

  • Baseline Pricing:  $150 – $300 per minute or $3,000 – $6,000 for the project
  • Baseline Project Time: Generally 3-5 weeks
  • For a Rush Job: Add 20% – 30% (under 3 weeks)
  • For increased quality/complexity: 50%+ increase
  • If you don’t have complete source material: 50%+ increase

Note that this information is for setting budgeting expectations only and that the team here at the eLearning Network® regularly meets or beats our competitors’ estimates, so contact us today for a competitive quote.  The estimated prices listed above are ballpark estimates for reasonably good eLearning companies.  You’ll find that our pricing, quality, and speed we are vastly superior by comparison.  See the Magic Matrix for a detailed breakdown of hours of labor you might expect for each of the core eLearning development tasks.

Are you paying too much?

If you are paying more than the above, you probably could be getting projects done faster and/or and with higher quality that you are used to and you should shop around for more competitive pricing.  If the above budget is more than you can afford, consider producing lower quality “rapid” eLearning, which you should expect vendors to charge a baseline cost of between $150 – $300 per minute. If your budget is severely limited you can also consider hiring companies based in developing countries understanding that your cost savings may be at the expense of quality, time, and other factors.

You should only agree to a final budget after the vendor has reviewed your requirements, source material, and conducted a comprehensive project discovery meeting with you. If you do not have completed source material then you may require formal instructional design and content writing services, so you should budget at least 50% more for your project to get this critical work done.

Additionally, if you have a in-house eLearning development team you should be seeing similar eLearning production times and costs.  You can determine what you are spending per minute on average for your projects by dividing the total compensation you pay for eLearning development related tasks by the total number of minutes of eLearning your department produces in a given year.

Should you outsource your eLearning project?

Comparing the time, quality, and budget you receive now to the quality, cost, and speed of engaging an external vendor can be a useful way to validate what you are doing or make adjustments to your in-house strategy. You may also consider supplementing your in-house team with external experts so you can focus on strategy and content while your vendor focuses on production.

Would you like a competitive quote from us?

For more information, Contact Us for a competitive quote that delivers superior quality with competitive eLearning development costs. Or if you prefer, complete the eLearning QuickQuote form at the bottom of this page.  As you can see from our demo gallery, we are a high quality shop that delivers fast and affordable eLearning that oftentimes beats the estimates listed above.

Do you agree or disagree with the figures above? Log in using your LinkedIn account and comment below!

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