How Will Outsourcing Change the CLO’s Role?

Published August 2004

What does the increasing move toward outsourcing mean for CLOs? What skills and new responsibilities will be necessary for success? What will be the new measures of success?

First, CLOs will increasingly need to focus on the “business of learning.” The 2004 Accenture Learning Survey of 285 enterprise learning organizations found that CLOs are being measured more and more by how they run their learning function as a “business unit.” CLOs are focusing more on capabilities such as managing their learning budget to plan, and increasing efficiency and effectiveness by focusing on the business impacts of learning. Figure 1 below examines the most prevalent performance measures in place.

New alignment processes will also become important to CLOs. These range from managing service-level agreements (i.e., measurements promised by outsourcing partners in the operation of a function) to formally tracking the business value of the investment in learning, ultimately providing business insights.

CLOs will also need to look at more effective governance and accountability structures to align learning to business goals. Establishing a governing board for the learning function is only the first step toward aligning learning with business goals. Governing councils are also vital. These councils–for the senior leadership of the organization as well as for each business unit–provide input into how learning can achieve strategic business priorities. Decision-making councils involve executive and senior management, business unit management and business/learning relationship managers. Governance of the learning function must involve a process for consistently translating business challenges into the performance needs of the workforce.

The difference between being a manager and being a leader may be the greatest challenge CLOs face. As interest in outsourcing increases, CLOs will focus less on managing the day-to-day design, development and delivery of learning, and more on exercising leadership and communicating a vision.

CLOs will need to be effective communicators and marketers, and this means more than learning portals, road shows, course catalogs and newsletters. An effective communications plan is vital. Leading learning organizations work with their marketing and communications professionals to plan and execute a blended marketing model that leverages both on-site and online marketing and communications tools. The outcome is that all levels of the organization, as well as the extended value chain, understand that learning is a strategic asset, not simply a cost of doing business.

CLOs who understand the learning and business dimensions of their jobs will prosper. Some companies may fritter away their learning investments on programs that have not changed substantially year-to-year. Successful learning organizations will design and communicate the decision-making parameters and mechanisms that will enable learning investments to fulfill the strategic priorities of the organization. A business-focused CLO will be the difference between success and failure of the function.


  • Share/Bookmark

About Jeanne Meister

Jeanne C. Meister is a best selling author of three books, internationally recognized consultant and keynote speaker. Jeanne is Partner of Future Workplace, a consulting firm dedicated to assisting organizations in re-thinking, re-imagining and re-inventing the workplace. Jeanne was recently voted by her peers as one of the 20 top influential training professionals in the United States. Jeanne’s name is synonymous with the establishment and institutionalization of global corporate universities. Jeanne is the author of three books, Corporate Quality Universities and Corporate Universities. Jeanne’s latest book is, The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop & Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today (Harper Collins, 2010) is in its 10th printing.No information is provided by the author.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>