In this day and age, everybody and their mother seem to offer online training courses. Enterprises that want to train their employees seem to be spoiled for choice, with thousands of eLearning shops and tens of thousands of available courses on all possible topics. But then another issue arises: will it be pre-developed or custom eLearning course development?
Given this over-abundance of eLearning material, does it really make sense for a company to develop its own custom eLearning courses? Wouldn’t opting for some off-the-shelf material be the fastest and cheapest solution?
Indeed, it might be. But what’s fastest and cheapest isn’t always also good for you (if it was, McDonalds would be the perfect diet). Nor does the fastest and cheapest option necessarily have the best return of investment. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
In this post, we’ll give you 5 reasons why you should invest in custom eLearning development. Starting with…
1. You know you better
All those authors of pre-built online training courses have one thing in common: they are not you. They might write stuff relevant to your industry, and they might even have titles covering subjects that you need to cover in your employee training, but they know neither your particular organization, nor its particular goals.
The thing is, every company is unique. Or rather, any company that wants to differentiate itself from its competition, has to be unique.
Why then would you use the same training material that your competitors (or any random person on the internet, for that matter) can use? How could that ever give you an upper hand in dealing with them? At best, it would make your employees equally skilled and knowledgeable as those of any other company that uses the same off-the-shelf courses.
Now, that might be fine in generic topics, such as “How to use Excel”, “Chinese for business” and the like. These things, (Excel, the Chinese language) are beyond your control, and different businesses are not expected to invent their own special way of using them. But what about the core operations of your business?
Custom eLearning content development is the solution
For anything related to your core business procedures, that is, things that give you your core competitive advantage, you should opt for custom eLearning course development.
Just like it’s a bad idea to outsource key parts of your operations to a third party (because then you’re at the mercy of your outsourcing partners), it’s an equally bad idea to outsource key part of your operational knowledge — which is essentially what you do when you use generic online training material and/or services.
On top of the drawbacks of giving away control, there’s also the fact that third party content creators don’t have access to (and so can’t cover) your unique organizational infrastructure, procedures, customer base and challenges. A commercial eLearning training shop might, for example, have a course on how to administer a particular relational database, and another course on how to run a particular application server in production. But it’s a slim chance that they’ll have a course on how to integrate said database and application server in the way your company needs to.
And of course they won’t know anything about several other internally developed and legacy systems that your IT department needs to maintain and integrate with these two. Still, all those are things that you’ll need to train new hires on. So, what happens then?
Enter custom eLearning development.
2. Custom eLearning cuts to the chase
This one is a corollary of the previous point. Since, unlike a generic eLearning content author, you have first hand knowledge of your organizational structure and needs, you can target your eLearning content directly to your company’s particular use cases and business needs, trimming all the useless fat that comes with a one-size-fits-all training course.
If you just need your employees to master a particular piece of equipment, or to learn to use only some very narrow functionality of the otherwise full-featured POS software your company uses, you can focus on just that.
Opting for custom eLearning courses and custom course development will spare your employees from having to go through pages upon pages of stuff they won’t ever need to know, and get them to be productive in the things you need them to, faster than any generic course could ever have them. And, of course, if your needs ever grow, you can always expand your training material.
And this is because when you invest in custom eLearning course development, you are in control, both of your course content and the knowledge that has to be transmitted through it.
Even better, since you can customize your eLearning content to just the things you need your employees to know, you can also monitor their training progress and performance more accurately — as their testing and overall grades will not be affected by any superfluous material.
3. Some things just have to be custom
As we have already pointed out, even when it comes to generally applicable training content (e.g. learning to use some popular commercially available software, or acquiring some basic industry-wide business skill), you still know your exact business needs better than any commercial eLearning course creator.
But there are also things that are not and can never be “generally applicable” — things that only a customized eLearning solution can cater for. And just like you need to customize your LMS to reflect your company’s brand, there are also some cases that custom course content is a must!
Employee on-boarding for example is something that pre-developed eLearning courses are not suitable for, as it is something inherently tied to your organization and its specific structure and operations. From the welcome “message from the CEO” and the breakdown of your corporate values, to the presentation of career advancement paths and the details of using the company’s intranet resources, employee on-boarding is not something that can be relegated to some off-the-shelf course.
The same is true for any business procedure, skill and knowledge that is unique to the company and should not leak to competitors. From Coca Cola’s “secret formula” and Google’s proprietary PageRank algorithm to Apple’s closely guarded software and hardware development, there are lots of things a company has to take the custom eLearning route for, since not only third party content creators don’t know about them, but they should also never learn. In such cases, custom eLearning solutions are pretty much the only way to go!
Of course, customizable course content is also needed in cases, such as compliance training. Custom compliance eLearning is a necessity, as different businesses, even within the same industry, might have different needs.
4. It helps with knowledge retention
Besides being in control of your training and covering just the things that you need to cover, there is also another, seldom mentioned, benefit from developing a custom eLearning solution.
The process of gathering operational knowledge from inside the company to present it in the form of an eLearning course itself can help you formalize and understand your business processes and the day-to-day operation of your organization better. Problematic procedures and issues that have gone unnoticed for years have a tendency to jump right out of the (web)page at you when finally seen in writing.
And even if your company has been doing everything just fine, by putting your business procedures in writing for your LMS courses, you’re helping with knowledge retention, by capturing and transfering key knowledge and techniques from your current employees in a form that can be stored, refined and reused to train future hires.
This is something essential for the long term success of a business that comes for free with creating your own custom eLearning courses.
5. It’s not an either-or proposition
It’s not like you have to choose between custom eLearning course development and commercial pre-built courses.
In fact, the best course of action would be to combine both of these options, thus getting the best of both worlds: off-the-shelf commercial courses for training that’s common to your whole industry, and customized eLearning development for things that uniquely capture your company’s needs and competitive advantages.
And don’t be intimidated by the prospect of doing custom eLearning course development either. Modern eLearning management platforms like TalentLMS make custom course creation a snap, letting you write and configure your courses from an intuitive and friendly, web-based, user interface.
And, as you can incorporate all kinds of already existing material, from Word documents and PowerPoints to YouTube videos, you are already half of the way a complete course.
As for deploying and running your newly created courses, that’s even easier. In fact, with a Cloud based SaaS solution like TalentLMS, you don’t even need to install or manage anything: it just works, giving you a comprehensive environment for course creation, online training, user management, and progress monitoring.
Why is custom eLearning course development worth a shot?
In this post we’ve had a look at 5 reasons in favor of customizing your eLearning courses. In short: it puts you in control, it lets you focus your training on what matters to you, it’s necessary for some things, and it helps with knowledge retention.
We believe that the relatively more effort that you have to put into custom training translates to a greater ROI and a more competitive company — and enterprise adoption of custom LMS tools seems to agree with this.