There are, no doubt, times when you should buy (purchase off the shelf) rather than build (custom develop) your company’s training. However, the times when you should build – either yourself or by using a vendor – rather than buy are more often than you might think. Ideally, your curriculum will include both.
You should consider custom-building your training rather than buying it when…
#1: You want to tie the training to your business’ goals
Companies that are serious about their “brand” are successful because of two things: what they do, but more importantly how they do it. If there are certain ways that your company likes to sell to customers, produce your product, manage your employees, or even answer the phone, then it’s your job to train the employees on these ways – particularly new employees. By building your training – rather than buying it – you can more closely align what you do to the business.
It’s also easier to obtain data from the training’s impact when you’re able to build it based on the metrics you wish to measure.
#2: You’re in a highly-competitive industry
If you’re in a tightly-contested market, the difference between what you and your competitors do is minimal, so any competitive advantage you can gain is crucial. When it comes to training your employees in the areas of customer service, sales, and even management and leadership, if you’re buying the same training as your competitors, you’re losing that advantage. Build it instead.
You could argue that “generic” training like time management, meetings, or presentation skills can be purchased off-the-shelf and that could be the case… unless you have a certain way that you want your employees to manage their time or make presentations or run meetings. If you’re in the latter group, build it. We’re seeing a lot of growth in this area.
#3: The training is blended, or has a social or informal component
Blended training programs (programs that include more than one delivery method) are advantageous for many reasons. To create them means being able to mix and match concepts and topics, which is much easier to do when you build it. If part of the blend is social learning or informal learning, you’ll need to take concepts learned in the training and replicate them in performance support tools. This becomes more complicated if you don’t “own” the material.
#4: You want employees to follow best practices
You’ll often hear that you can buy off-the-shelf training and then “customize” it by adding your specific best practices, case studies and success stories. But if you have specific best practices, case studies and success stories, then more than likely you have specific processes. And specific processes call for training built from scratch. This is also true of your technical training because no two companies use technology the same way.
#5: You want to create an overall training strategy
To see a return on your training investment, it’s not wise to throw at your employees disparate training from many different providers to see what sticks. You have to create an overall training strategy, and this means that all of your offerings under that strategy have to align. It’s much easier to align training you build.
#6: You want the training to be reinforced by managers
It’s frustrating to spend time and money on training only to see it fizzle because managers never fully embrace it. But it’s not always the managers’ fault. Believe it or not, many managers feel undermined by training because they think it contradicts how they do things. This is especially true if the training comes from “an outsider”. By building the training, you can involve the managers, which creates ownership. That way, they are fully committed to reinforcing the training since they approved of it in the first place.
#7: You want to save money and increase ROI
It may not seem possible at first, but when it comes to the training cost “per person over time”, building your training can be less expensive than buying it. Even if you are training a small number of people each year, building it can still provide you with a higher return on investment.
In the end… you own the training you build!
If your situation meets even one of these criteria, you may want to consider building your training versus buying it. The challenge is it’s often difficult to compare “apples to apples”, so you should mandate that a potential vendor provides you with details as to the services that are included in their fees. In our proposals, we provide unit costs, so it’s easier to calculate the total cost. We also provide a “menu” of services so companies can pick and choose.
To see a sample proposal or a demo of the training discussed in this article, please contact us.