Last updated: 23.01.18

Learning software: how to select the right package for your company

When shopping for learning software, there's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution - but it's possible to find a perfect option for your business by considering the benefits of both bespoke and off-the-shelf products.

When looking to upgrade your company's learning and development technology, it can sometimes be challenging to find a solution that seems just right for the needs and requirements of your business and your workforce.

After all, once you start researching the market, you'll quickly discover that there is no one-size-fits-all solution that'll offer the same benefits for every organisation. For each company that would prefer to invest in a preconfigured off-the-shelf software package, there'll be others that would benefit just as much - or even more so - from a more tailored, bespoke design.

Striking the right balance can be difficult, but by considering the pros and cons of each approach carefully, you should be able to find a software solution that's perfectly suited to the task of taking your organisation's learning and development capabilities to the next level.

What are the benefits of off-the-shelf solutions?

Off-the-shelf corporate learning packages are frequently purchased by companies that are looking to put an updated training infrastructure in place as quickly as possible, with a minimum of amount of delays or complexity.

These solutions are preconfigured by vendors to conform to modern industry standards, and will cover a general range of topics are relevant to the sector as a whole. What these packages lack in tailored content, they make up for in sheer convenience; because off-the-shelf solutions are created by expert vendors based on a strong understanding of proven methods, it's possible to get the software up and running extremely rapidly.

As such, many businesses favour these options purely on the basis of the value they offer compared to bespoke options, but there's more to off-the-shelf software than an attractive price point. It's also worth remembering that these pre-built packages are often unbeatable when it comes to compliance training, as they'll be developed with expert knowledge of industry trends and issues in mind - perfect for smaller businesses, or those who don't want to leave any aspect of their regulatory compliance up to chance.

Could bespoke software be the better choice?

However, although off-the-shelf learning software will do the job for many organisations, there are always going to be benefits that simply can't be achieved without the help of a tailored bespoke solution, made with your organisation's needs specifically in mind.

Naturally, the cost of developing and implementing a bespoke software package is always going to be higher, and it'll take more time and effort to work with a vendor to create a solution from scratch than it would to buy one ready-made. But once it's up and running, the advantages are potentially considerable: a bespoke solution allows you to analyse the unique elements of your company structure and workflow, identify gaps in knowledge or skills, and deliver training that's designed precisely to address these gaps within the context of a broader corporate strategy.

Since you'll have complete ownership and control of this package, you can change and modify it over time as your business interests grow and develop; you'll also be able to work closely with the vendor to refine these processes, gradually perfecting the system until it's delivering long-term benefits that considerably exceed the cost of the initial outlay.

Which is right for my company?

Ultimately, the best way to figure out which of these approaches is going fit your organisation is to take the time to analyse your specific needs, and weigh them against the established pros and cons of the available solutions.

If your company is in need of a convenient, proven, industry-standard solution with minimal lead-in times, then off-the-shelf is likely to be better; if you're after deeper integration and a more tailored approach to meet specific strategic needs, then a bespoke package will be the way to go. It's worth remembering that a hybrid approach is also possible, combining custom-built solutions in certain areas with standardised methods elsewhere.

Whatever you decide, the most important thing is to ensure that you've done the research, and that everyone within your organisation is committed to making your chosen solution work. That way, you'll be maximising your chances of enjoying all the benefits that a well-optimised learning and development software package can offer.

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