Hi All

We are in the process of reviewing our L&D team structure. We currently have both an internal 'face to face' delivery team and a small internal online (eLearning) team sitting under the HR departmental banner. Currently the two teams tend to work independently but where required they do work together to develop 'blended' interventions. there are other factors that contribute as to why the two teams maybe do not collaborate as much together as they possibly could or should i.e. being based at seperate locations, specific skill sets etc...

I would be interested to know how any of you out there who have both an internal face to face & online resource have managed to assimilate that resource into a cohesive unit or have most of you kept the resource separate - perhaps under a separate banner away from HR??

Any comments, thoughts, feedback or suggestions would be most welcome...







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Interesting to read that you have such a structure with folks siloed in this way.  If they have a common purpose, it would seem natural to have them in a common group.  Without knowing more about the group, including its size, another question is why keep such a group internally, when much of this work could be outsourced.  Perhaps not an attractive proposition at outset, and emotive, but there are advantages to outsourcing such as the ability to flex supply to meet demand (and its does focus the mind when cost of supply is visible rather than "hidden), the ability to bring in expertise rather than attempt to keep pace with the rate of change, the attraction of getting new ideas from the new people you meet and development opportunity for those remaining in the group.

Hi Ian


We are an integrated IT Training team.  We have three people who create elearning as needed but all of us are face to face trainers.  We have two main bases, both at training room sites, but very often do not see people for weeks if people are out and about delivering training away from base.

I think the integration of your teams would be good thing as it makes for better cohesive working and understanding of what may be needed in elearning compared to the face to face delivery aspect when making blended intervention.

We make sure we have team meetings every two months, but again not everyone can attend these.  However, keeping in touch by email and sharing good practice helps in creating and maintaining a team feeling, even without seeing those members regularly.




Hi Ian

I came at this from the other way round starting with just face to face trainers, then adding an on-line work.  We looked at outsourcing, but decided to buy in the technology and train a couple of our trainers who expressed an interest.  In this way, both sets of trainers were fully aware of what each other were doing (they remained in the same team), were working to the same objectives and timeframes, and produced independent or integrated responses, whatever was most appropriate.

Unless you have superb project set-up and management processes, I don't see how you can fully integrate two teams with separate structures, in separate locations

Hi Ian. It sounds as if your current team structure is the result of factors that perhaps increasingly look like "legacy". Skills may have been a powerful incentive for separate teams in the past, but my experience is that in a blended world, you will have f2f trainers delivering online and creating online job aids, and elearning experts enriching learning experiences of any kind when working together. I have experienced employee confusion in the presence of split L&D departments, they tend to see everything related to learning as a single entity, and my guess is that your employees tend to approach the f2f team with most questions and requests, including those that relate to elearning. My suggestion would be to merge the teams, introduce new challenges (such as new blended formats) so there is a common sense of purpose and renewed need for collaboration, ample room for new skills to be developed, including technologies that support effective remote meetings, and a simple, more approachable structure for your employees. This also makes the team more adaptable/resilient in case you want to introduce outsourcing in the mix as Dave suggests.

Belonging to HR has some benefits, and I'd try to keep them. For example, I have experienced how onboarding programmes can become so much harder when you are not part of HR.


I'd recommend you start with a clear view of where you want to be when its all working like a well-oiled machine. This may sound contradictory, but unless you have vision of, and buy-in to, the desired end state, you may find yourself running up and down blind alleys, rolling boulders here and there, and not seeing the wood for the trees (or any other metaphor you can think of).

There are a few trends we are all seeing; almost all L&D departments are moving towards providing more open and blended solutions in their portfolio; structured learning solutions are being increasingly integrated with work; and technology is playing a larger part.  None of these trends look like being reversed. Knowing this helps in planning the journey.

So if you start by mapping out a clear vision, a strategy and set of principles that you'd like your L&D team to work to - including how you want them to work and how you need them to adapt to emerging changes and challenges - then you will get a pretty good view of the best route to take.  Whether L&D is under the HR structure or not is to some extent irrelevant. Sometimes HR-linked L&D provides great joined-up service to its internal customers.  Sometimes business-linked L&D fragments and replicates learning across organisations. Sometimes its the other way around. There's no single answer. It usually depends on whether the focus is on customers and impact or not (which is why we see flip-flop centralising/decentralising of L&D on a pretty regular basis - trying to solve mindset and other service delivery issues by structural change).

I'd recommend you use something like the 70:20:10 framework to transform your L&D in a strategic way (but I would say that, wouldn't I??). There are also other approaches that are worth looking at, but certainly take a few steps back and approach it as a strategic and transformational challenge.


Hello Ian,

A lot of visions and ideas have been shared. I would recommend to start drafting a clear vision and strategy which should lead to a business plan. Following this, you can take the appropriate decisions.

I come from a slightly different angle, I am responsible for the BWise Academy. Our business focus is to train and support our customers and implementation partners during the implementation of our Governance, Risk and Compliance software. We have made the decision to have a combined team of learning developers and trainers. Since we are implementing on a world-wide scale, we develop for most of our customers blended solutions (such as classroom, performance support solutions, eLearning). In many cases. our developers also deliver training (fact to face or virtual) to our customers. For that reason, we have a combined team of developers and trainers. And yes, it requires a broad skill set for all team members.

Just from a personal standpoint, bring all training activities together in an Academy serving your business lines and make impact with training.

Hi Ian

I have experience of operating within both types of structure. In my opinion the combination that I think worked best is keeping eLearning specialists separate in terms of role, but reporting into the same overall HR function. Each role does need to work closely to understand the customer and business needs, but they don't need to be located in the same premises as the delivery teams given the various collaboration tools we have these days.

This recognises the different skillsets and technical knowledge that eLearning specialists develop. We do outsource solutions, but invariably achieve better outcomes when a internal eLearning specialist is available to support the external supplier, or when the supplier is contracted as an extension of our internal resource. It also helps develop the internal eLearning team who might otherwise limit themselves to what they know and understand.

Where we have attempted to combine the job roles, I believe the overall offering suffers and I'm not convinced its any more efficient when the true cost is worked out.

Hi Ian

Our F2F trainers have been asked the question "If you didn't have a classroom, how would you deliver your existing lesson plan?" and the answer is not allowed to be find another room! It encourages trainers to be open to the idea that "we've always done it this way" isn't necessarily the way it needs to be done.

As an elearning practitioner it's not just self-preservation that says there is a need to try and keep the elements separate. F2F, virtual, elearning etc. are distinct skills and trying to do them as one person can only mean that one of those skills suffers in my opinion - I've seen trainers import their powerpoint slides onto Captivate and say "Ta da!" - any time a trainer creates e-learning we QA it and invariably tweak a few things so I think this illustrates the gap in expertise. I have delivered f2f a few times and hate it and doubt I did it very well so this illustrates this further. Horses for courses if you'll pardon the pun.

Hi Ian,

Very much second all those that have put a clear strategy and agenda on the table - in particular I think Charles' statement 'almost all L&D departments are moving towards providing more open and blended solutions in their portfolio; structured learning solutions are being increasingly integrated with work; and technology is playing a larger part' is very much at the heart of this.  The role of learning professional is demanding a different skill set, the skills of facilitation, curation, community management, needs analysis, learning design are just a few of the skills I would expect to see in JDs being issued today.  There's a couple of resources that I can share with you that may help - there's an article right back in 2011 I wrote for Personnel Today that sets out the challenge for L&D which gives a summary of some of these issues.  I also wrote a broader white paper on taking complex subjects online but I've used it with L&D teams to explore how the digital world is changing the way we address a typical learning need in an organisation and that the process may be quite different to that with which you are familiar.  Finally we have an image we often use when looking at the evolution of learning in organisations which can help bring the message home.  Hope this all helps.


Hi Ian


when I started as L & D Manager there was just me and my assistant covering 1600 staff's training needs. I quickly made a case for full time mentors/coaches to be managed by me /L & D and sited at each of our 5 main sites. This was accepted as good practice and  a sound investement based on predicted impact. A compromise I made was reducing my CPD budget as this team meant we could deliver in- house training now. I now have 6 full time expert teachers (soon to be 8) mentoring and coaching 1000+ teachers and each year they see around 90% of them and have consistently improved mentees grades (teaching observation grades). They are all tech savvy, but we have a 7th,  e-learning only  mentor  who concentrates on ILT, Smartboard and Moodle training as well as cutting edge technologies. He is part of the team though with different objcetives. We meet once  a month for half a day to share best practice and to have team briefs re activity and targets etc.  We deliver 'Inspire' training sessions of around 45 minutes to teams and for staff to drop into, and have so far averaged 350 of these each year on a whole variety of topics. We have a sharing space on our in- house Moodle system for all new resources, ideas, methods and such like, so keep in contact this way, and by skype and Big Blue Button regularly. We have common/team targets and objectives, but work with each of the 5 sites to help deliver their objectives too by underpinning staff skills with training, induction etc. We have several online training packages that staff need to complete. Some are developed in- house, others we buy in , such as safeguarding . One thing though is very important. They need to mainatin their cutting edge skills and methods and need to be horizion scanning and visiting other experts to share best practice to remain credible and truly leading the field as experts. I provide regular reports on their activity, their impact and full evaluation of the difference they are making to learning and skills transfer post training activities. Very important as the first question I ask managers who request training  is 'what do you want your staff to be capable of doing...' so the final evidence has to be that they are now in fact capable and carrying out their work to this improved standard. There is always talk of this resource being moved to Quality but so far nobody can argue that under HR it is a humanitisc , flexible, reactive and proactive coaching approach rather than a tick box exercise working to compliance training objectives only.  Sue


Many thanks to all of you who have taken the time to provide some feedback for me - much appreciated...

Plenty for the key stakeholders in this process to consider :-)





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