Last updated: 10.01.19

Bespoke learning software or off-the-shelf courses: picking the right option

Bespoke learning software or off-the-shelf courses: picking the right option

Summary: When shopping for learning software, you'll quickly find there is no one-size-fits-all solution - so it's important to weigh up the pros and cons of bespoke and off-the-shelf options before choosing the one that's right for your organisation.

In many ways, British businesses are facing a unique set of challenges at the moment. New legislation such as the General Data Protection Regulation has resulted in significant changes to the way organisations are run, and our imminent exit from the European Union promises to usher in even more seismic shifts in the business landscape.

As such, many forward-thinking companies are increasing their investment in learning and development to keep their staff educated and provide them with the skills they need to navigate the complexities of an evolving status quo. However, even in this area, some firms remain uncertain as to which type of learning software they should be opting for to achieve the best outcomes for their workforce.

In many cases, an off-the-shelf solution from a trusted provider like Virtual College will be more than enough to meet your company's needs, while other organisations may prefer to work more closely with their supplier to create a tailored, bespoke solution. Neither represents a one-size-fits-all solution, but by carefully considering the pros and cons of each option, it should be possible for your business to find an e-learning suite that meets all of your needs.

Off-the-shelf courses - an easy-to-implement and affordable option

For businesses that wish to get their new-look learning and development solutions up and running as quickly and efficiently as possible, an off-the-shelf package is likely to be the best option.

Virtual College offers a wide range of prepackaged e-learning solutions, developed with proven expertise in line with industry standards to address common demands and challenges within the business community. What these packages lack in customisation options, they more than make up for in terms of their affordable, accessible effectiveness; by buying off-the-shelf software, companies can start training their workers with a bare minimum of setup time, with design and testing process handled by the vendor.

These products are ideal for businesses that want to provide training on relatively general subjects that align with industry best practice and compliance standards; in particular, smaller companies with less to spend are likely to find these courses invaluable. They may not offer the full range of options that a purpose-built solution can provide, but businesses of all sizes will find that off-the-shelf software can offer a fast return on investment, and palpable benefits for staff.

Bespoke courses - a tailor-made solution optimised for your needs

For some organisations with complex structures, very specific needs or unconventional methods, it may be the case that off-the-shelf software solutions prove too limited or restrictive to meet their expectations. In these cases, a bespoke course may be the answer.

Bespoke courses tend to require a bit more upfront investment to get off the ground; working alongside an expert vendor such as Virtual College, companies will be able to develop a tailor-made training system from scratch, adapting every aspect of the course - from the content and the learning materials through to the choice of vocabulary and the values it embodies - to meet your individual corporate needs.

Naturally, this necessitates a greater commitment of resources and time, but the collaboration can yield eye-catching results - not only will the resulting course be perfectly suited to deliver the results you're hoping to achieve, but it can also be adapted and updated over time, with your organisation retaining full ownership of the course and its assets. This means that bespoke courses have the potential to offer deeper, more long-lasting benefits to your organisation, and can form the bedrock of your learning and development strategy for years to come.

How to make the best choice for your organisation

So which of these two options will work best for your company? Naturally, there's no catch-all response to this question, but finding the right answer can be easy if you're prepared to think carefully about the attributes of both solutions and how they correlate with your needs.

Virtual College provides both off-the-shelf and bespoke courses depending on your requirements, so take the time to assess your training goals, your intended timescale, your budget and your resourcing availability, and we'll be able to consult with you to identify the best possible package to meet those criteria. It may be that you opt for a blended approach, with prepackaged modules augmented by bespoke resources specific to your organisation, to achieve the best of both worlds.

Whichever option you select, Virtual College will be able to offer support at every stage of the purchasing and implementation process, increasing your company's chances of achieving the very best outcomes for your staff and the highest possible return on investment.

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