In today’s increasingly competitive corporate environment, investing in the continued professional development of employees is essential as well as beneficial – both for the employees and the company’s bottom line. But when it comes to training and learning programmes, HR verticals and L&D departments often face the big dilemma – whether to create their own learning content from scratch or to buy it ‘off the shelf’.
Off-the-shelf or OTS eLearning courses, as the name suggests, are essentially repositories or libraries of learning material that are pre-created and available online for ready usage. These extensive suites of eLearning courses (can include videos too) are generic in nature and mostly designed with the help of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) from the industry. Covering an array of topics from skills training, technical knowledge to desktop application training, the courses are available as stand-alone solutions that can be purchased by individuals or corporate. On the other hand, customised eLearning courses are designed to suit the ‘specific’ needs of an organisation and its employees, and are generally not for sale.
The big question then is how does the L&D or the HR department decide on whether to create its own eLearning modules or opt for OTS eLearning? For them, the Hamlet-like dilemma often prevails: to choose OTS or not to choose! In some cases, the answer is pretty simple and out there. Organization-specific content related to products/ services or processes that does not exist at all in the public domain calls for custom-developed courses. But on an average, the training needs of the learners can be sufficed with content that is, to a great extent, generic in nature.
ELearning projects, most often, have to their core the idea of deploying effective training. The focus is ‘on what the learners have learnt and what they have gathered from it’, rather than how the course is designed. So, if a company lacks the resources to create tailor-made courses, it makes sense to focus on the training program and save both time and costs by adopting off-the-shelf courses.
Here’s looking at why choosing OTS courses sometimes makes more sense:
1. Generic Content: If a company is looking at rolling out courses on broad topics such as team building, compliance training, change management, negotiation skills, effective customer handling, IT skills, etc, then there is hardly a need to build customised courses. It is sensible to opt for OTS courses because the content has been created by subject experts and is approved by authoritative organizations.
2. Faster Deployment: Sometimes, training needs of an organisation are pressing and require immediate action, with no time for developing bespoke content. OTS content is pre-built and available in the public domain to buy. A company’s go-to-market with an off-the-shelf content-based training can happen much faster vis-a-vis custom building eLearning courses that take a longer to develop.
3. Fits the Budget: Cost considerations are profound for companies when it comes to offering up-to-date online training content. One of the biggest pros of OTS courses is that they are budget-friendly. With many vendors and players in the market, and the options of varied kinds of content abound, off-the-shelf courses prove to be cost-effective. Most OTS vendors include deployment and maintenance costs within their services and often the cost of licensing for off-the-shelf content is cheaper.
4. Resource Management: Sometimes, small and medium organizations do not have a separate L&D department or even an HR vertical for training initiatives. OTS courses are a good choice for them because they do not require resources to overlook the designing, development, testing and implementation of OTS as demanded by custom eLearning even when outsourced to renowned eLearning vendors.
5. Quality of the Content: One of the reasons why L&D/ HR teams are sceptical about OTS content is the quality. But companies can rest assured because most vendors take quality into consideration and get the OTS content approved by authoritative organisations. For instance, there are some management and leadership courses where the subject matter has been written by the world’s leading business schools. OTS software training is often approved by the original manufacturer – for example MS Office training approved by Microsoft.
6. Maintenance: OTS courses also prove useful in the sense that they are (in most cases) learning platform agnostic. They can be deployed on a company’s existing Learning Management System, whether home-grown or purchased. Furthermore, true to the nature of today’s multi-device world, the off-the-shelf courses available today work across all devices and operating systems making learning truly seamless. From the perspective of the courses per se, the course content is also updated on a regular basis to make sure that it remains relevant and effective.
In a nutshell, off-the-shelf e-learning content libraries are a mainstay of training and development, and on good grounds. So, Get, set, OTS.
Looking for ready-to-use, off-the-shelf courses on Management, Leadership, MS Office, Innovation, HR and a host of other topics? Check out our comprehensive library of OTS courses sourced from Cegos and Yoda Learning.