Nov 24, 2021

As you plan for your organization’s training needs, you have no doubt pondered the question of whether to utilize off-the-shelf or custom courses within your learning management system (LMS). And, have you asked yourself the question, “What is right for my organization?”  From UL ComplianceWire’s perspective, the answer is, “both.” Each approach has pros and cons. Let’s consider these. 

Off-the-shelf courses are immediately ready for assignment and roll-out within your organization, thus reducing the time commitment on your internal resources as well as overall cost. These courses also come with updates which can be regulatory-, aesthetic-, or technology-focused. As updates are made to the course offering you will receive these. Additionally, with eLearning courses, you are ensuring that all employees are trained on the same materials and are receiving a consistent message.  However, a potential short fall of off-the-shelf courses in general pertain to the specificity of the content.  What do you do when your content is specific to a process or product at your company? In these cases, custom courses are the best path forward. 

Pros and cons of custom LMS courses

Custom courses are made to order. These courses are developed for a particular client or audience, focused on specific learning needs and objectives. However, with each level of specificity comes increased development time, a commitment for your internal resources, and costs. 

So, as you are considering the pros and cons, UL ComplianceWire sees both types of courses as necessary. Think about the types of knowledge that an organization must provide to its employees. In the compliance area, one type of knowledge is the associated regulations. This regulatory information is actually foundational knowledge that employees must follow, and does not vary from organization to organization.  For this reason, standard off-the-self course offerings are appropriate to train your employees and achieve your organization’s compliance needs. 

LMS content for organization-specific knowledge and training            

Now, within your organization there are other types of knowledge such as organization-specific and job-specific knowledge. For these, we recommend a stronger focus on developing learning that targets exactly what your employees need to know to be successful in your organization and/or at their specific jobs. Either via internal resources or third-party LMS partners, appropriate visual and interactive elements such as quizzes and job aids should be developed to increase engagement and effectiveness of custom content.

Utilizing standard or off-the-shelf course offerings for foundational regulatory-based knowledge and creating custom courses for areas more specific to your business facilitates more effective budgeting, and helps focus your internal resources on organization- and job-specific LMS content.. 

However, there is a middle ground worthy of consideration, as well: customizing off-the-shelf courses, which we will explore in a follow-up blog post. Stay tuned.

Carrie McKeague, Ph.D. is Manager, Content Solutions and Becky Philips is Learning Services Manager at UL ComplianceWire.

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  • Carrie McKeague and Becky Philips