Effective online training and development programs look to transfer knowledge and skills to employees, customer, and partners; however, there are various ways that companies choose to deliver their programs. Companies might choose to develop all of their online courses in-house, some may outsource their courses using a custom developer or purchase off-the-shelf content, and others might choose a combination of all three. Which way is the best? It all depends on your organization.
There are many factors that contribute to outsourcing online learning courses. For instance, perhaps the volume of training materials required exceeds what a learning and development team can support. Maybe the team lacks subject matter expertise or they might not have the skills to develop online courses in a preferred format or using a specific authoring tool. Believe it or not, oftentimes outsourcing online learning courses can help learning and development teams control costs.
Here at ePath Learning, it’s been our experience that more and more of our clients choose to both develop courses internally and outsource online learning courses through our partnerships with off-the-shelf (OTS) content providers. We also service clients that prefer to rely on our content development team to create and deliver customized course materials and learning solutions.
To Outsource Off-the-Shelf Content or Not…
Should you outsource training from an OTS content provider? That really depends on what type of training you need to deliver. Some training topics are fairly standardized and off-the-shelf content is ideal. However, if you require training that’s closely related to your industry, business, and culture, well chances are off-the-shelf content is not an option. It would be difficult to find any OTS content provider that has courses readily available that mimic your company’s unique competitive structure, product offerings or the depth of your own team’s expertise.
The same theory holds true for new hire onboarding programs. An effective onboarding program aims to integrate a new employee with a company and its culture, as well as getting the new hire the tools and information they need to become a productive member of the team. This is your opportunity to introduce new hires to your corporate culture, vision, mission, and role within your organization. A generic off-the-shelf course just won’t resonate with new hires.
While not conducive to OTS content, in the training scenarios just suggested, if you were pressed for time or lacked the resources, you could easily benefit by outsourcing a team to develop customized training. A custom course development team would act as an extension of your own learning and development team and would work with your subject matter experts to develop timely and impactful learning solutions.
Off-the-Shelf Content: 3 Ideal Training Scenarios
The following training scenarios are ideal for using off-the-shelf content for online learning.
- HR Compliance Training – HR compliance has always been a challenging area for most companies. Regulations and laws change frequently making it difficult for HR teams to keep up. Ensuring that compliance training content is up-to-date is both time-consuming and labor-intensive. This is an area that is well suited for OTS content. Subject matter and industry experts that focus specifically on HR compliance strive solely to keep course materials relevant and timely.
- Soft Skills Training – Every organization no matter how large or small can benefit from OTS soft skills training. Soft skills like communication, teamwork, problem-solving, attitude, leadership, and professionalism are vital to the success of any organization. These foundational-type courses are a great starting point for organizations looking to expand their employee’s interpersonal competencies.
- Workplace Safety Training – Fairly universal in nature, environmental, health, and safety compliance training courses are commonly available as OTS content.
The Top 3 Reasons to Invest in Off-the-Shelf Content
While there are many reasons to invest in off-the-shelf content, here are 3 top reasons for your consideration.
- Off-the-shelf courses provide a cost-effective solution for small or understaffed teams because there are absolutely no internal resources required.
- If you require an immediate solution, OTS can be purchased and uploaded into your LMS within hours.
- There’s no subject matter expertise required – your team can stick to developing training materials for what they know best, that being your company and your products and services.
Above all, off-the-shelf online learning courses offer a convenient way for you to expand your online training libraries. They’re definitely worth looking into as a supplement to your own in-house produced courses.
Are you considering OTS content? ePath Learning has partnerships with some of the most widely recognized OTS content providers in the industry today, so we can help. If you prefer a customized learning solution, our Pro Services team can help with that too, let’s talk.
Susan Distasio | eLearning Industry Crusader | ePath Learning, Inc.
About the Author: Susan Distasio is an eLearning Industry Crusader focused on advocating for advancement and change in the eLearning and professional development industry. An avid seeker of knowledge and continuous improvement, Susan is happy to share her research, observations, and thoughts regarding “all things related to learning and development.” When she’s not out on the learning crusade, Susan can be found with the wind in her hair riding her Harley or simply enjoying life with her husband, Steve, and her Siamese cat, Elvis, and with family and friends.