Off-the-Shelf Training vs. Custom eLearning Solutions

Designing Digitally


Off-the-Shelf Training vs. Custom eLearning Solutions

Companies are shifting from physical or classroom training to online training solutions. Online learning is more flexible and less expensive than facilitating training events at the office or a conference center. However, companies must decide on a type of online training - either purchasing off-the-shelf training modules or creating custom courses for their employees.

Off-the-shelf Training

Many training vendors create online modules they can sell to anyone. They select topics that can apply to a variety of industries and departments. These generic courses can be useful in certain situations. Consider exploring off-the-shelf offerings if you find yourself in the following scenarios.

1. Teaching Universal Topics

There are certain training objectives that are very common and applicable to a large number of employees. They include Microsoft Office, compliance training, how to handle clients, improving productivity in the work area, change management, team building, and other courses.

Many of these topics have standardized training modules prepared by authoritative organizations such as ISO and Microsoft. An organization doesn't need to prepare customized content for this kind of training since what is available off-the-shelf meets industry standards.

2. Urgently Needing Training

Changes to Government directives or legislation can come suddenly. If the issue impacts your business or employees, you may be pressed to find updated training as soon as possible.

The best option for your company could be to buy readily available off-the-shelf training. It might be an unexpected expenditure, but may be necessary to allow you to comply and avoid any hefty government fines.

Or, your company may abruptly decide to implement a new training tool or leadership methodology. Relying on off-the-shelf materials may be the quickest way to teach employees how to use the new tool or method.

3. Managing a Tight Training Budget

As much as you may want to create custom online training solutions for your company, sometimes the budget might not allow it. In such a case, buying off-the-shelf at a fixed price can be advantageous.

Since you know the price beforehand, you can easily budget and avoid any unexpected costs. Additionally, most off-the-shelf vendors sell their courses at a relatively low price since the development costs are distributed evenly among different users. Off-the-shelf training is also useful if your organization doesn't have a separate Learning and Development department to design custom online training solutions.

Custom eLearning

 Custom online training solutions allow you to modify some parts of a training module to fit in with your firm's objectives or create a new online training course from scratch. The following situations require custom eLearning solutions.

1. Having Unique Needs

Your organization has its own internal culture, business processes, intellectual property, and perhaps even exclusive products. Generalized, off-the-shelf training cannot teach this material to learners. You must create training programs for anything specific to your company. For instance, a pre-made course on kitchen safety may have valuable information for restaurant employees, but it will not teach cooks how to prepare the items on that restaurant’s unique menu. There are many instances where off-the-shelf training simply cannot fill the knowledge gaps your existing employees or new-hires have.

2. Presenting Dynamic Content

Training professionals are all too familiar with content that changes on a regular basis. Technological advancements may cause common updates to your company’s IT policies and security measures. Or, continual updates to your product line may force you to repeatedly update sales training. Off-the-shelf training cannot keep up with these ongoing changes. But, if you create custom training, you can design it to accommodate dynamic content. Programmers can update online content in a matter of days, depending on the severity of the change. Custom online training lets you keep your content up to date.

3. Upholding Brand Identity

Many companies believe it is important for training materials to reflect their look and feel. Some off-the-shelf modules allow you to adjust colors, but even those will not fully capture your organization’s language, tone, or artistic style. Designing custom training to align with your brand guidelines is the best way to create a cohesive feel for training. It may also encourage learners to take the training more seriously, since it is clearly made “just for them.”

Other Benefits of Custom eLearning

Benefits of creating custom eLearning also include:

  • Full control over the content presented

  • Custom images that reflect your company’s culture and facility

  • Unique activities and interactions designed around your needs

  • Fun themes and storylines incorporated in the training


Is custom online learning the right option for your training needs? Designing Digitally, Inc. specializes in creating training solutions that are tailored to the specific needs of our clients to ensure effective training that leads to a positive return on investment and improved employee performance.  

To learn more about our available solutions and how custom training can impact your organization, download our complimentary infographic “Off-the-Shelf Training Challenges and Custom Online Learning Solutions” or book a free consultation with our team today!