How To Determine When To Build Or Buy eLearning Courses

Build Or Buy eLearning Courses? 

One of the most important decisions you will make is whether to purchase off-the-shelf courses, build a part of it in-house, or outsource the entire development effort. This is a decision that requires a lot of forethought – because a hasty decision could have far-reaching consequences and repercussions, and cause you to regret your decision. Whether you must customize or build or buy eLearning products will be clear only after much thought and deliberation on the available options. Here are two arguments in favor of both building and buying an eLearning course. You will need to select one that suits your requirements.

Argument For Buying

Off-the-shelf content (OTS) is readily available to be uploaded on a Learning Management System. This is because the content usually covers general topics such as time management, team building, leadership training, sales negotiations, six sigma, workplace safety, email etiquette, and so on. Most of the content for these topics is written by industry gurus. For example you can find off-the-shelf content for marketing management by Philip Kotler. When the content is produced by the gurus in the industry, it does not make sense producing them in-house. This is one reason Lynda.com has seen a great success, where the content provided by industry experts is trusted by 4+ million users.

Off-the-shelf courses are a perfect fit when your training requirements are urgent. These courses are readily available; you can deploy them in less than 24 hours, unlike custom eLearning, which would take months to create.

Also, the costs are relatively low since the development cost is distributed among many users. According to a survey by videoarts, the demand for off-the-shelf content is increasing. This clearly shows companies instead of focusing on creating and disseminating content, are now sourcing a variety of externally produced content and incorporating them into their current learning portfolio. Cost, time, and resource management are the key factors  in favor of off-the-content.

Argument For Building

When it comes to building courses, it doesn’t make sense for the organization to source the content from external resources for unique training needs. For example, developing a course on the new product launch, or internal processes of systems training, new employee orientation, compliance laws specific to your region and business, etc.

The other advantage you have with custom eLearning is you can incorporate various elements in the course that resemble you company culture. For example, when incorporating scenarios or games, you can use the characters, backgrounds, images, and systems actually used in your organization. You can incorporate everything in a course that reflects your company branding, right from the GUI of the course to the certification.

The other big reason that makes me vouch for custom eLeaning is, it is ideal for content that is organization-specific. For example, when a company is launching a new series of laptops and tablets into the market, it will have technical specifications, price lists, target markets, etc. to be communicated to their sales force. Such trainings can be either developed in-house or outsourced, but can’t be bought off-the-shelf.

Choosing What’s Right For You

The table below illustrates some key points which you can consider to make a right decision.

Build When… Buy When...
Information is a priority; confidential Information is generic
Customizations are required Ready-made content completely meets your organization’s training requirements
Training must be carried out across several geographies, in multiple languages, and must take cultural nuances into consideration Training is limited to one or two languages and geographies
Training a large workforce Training is limited to few learners or training a large workforce under tight deadlines
You have all the necessary resources required to build eLearning You do not have the resources available in-house
You want to have an edge over competition It is okay to use the same generic content used by other organizations
It is okay to use the same generic content used by other organizations You are happy with what is readily available
The organization has a well thought of training strategy in place You must rely on external experts to develop a good training strategy for your organization
There are no time constraints There are time constraints

Having talked about the benefits of both building and buying an eLearning course, map your requirements against points in both the columns. At the end, tally your requirement with both columns and that will give you the answer of whether you should build or buy eLearning courses.

To know more about the dos and don’ts required team to build a course, or a checklist to choose the right outsourcing partner, download the eBook eLearning: Getting your Organization READY.

eBook Release: CommLab India
CommLab India
Working with multiple outsourcing vendors can be stressful, and a waste of time & money. With CommLab India, all your online training needs are taken care of, rapidly and economically.
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