When it comes to building a successful virtual learning program, content is crucial. You can have the most cutting-edge LMS on the market and use all the latest and greatest promotion techniques to drive initial user participation, but if your courses lack meaningful and relevant content your eLearning program won’t meet your desired outcomes.

This begs the question, when is it right to build your own eLearning content or when should you opt for off-the-shelf courseware? The decision to build or buy is dependent on what your objectives are for your training courses, on what type of usage you anticipate and on what type of budget you have allocated for your training program.

Since custom built courses oftentimes require a significantly higher investment, both in time and financial resources, it is not always best to build your own courses even when you think your training content is unique. Many times, pre-made courses are more conducive to your budget and to fulfilling your training objectives, and contrary to what many may think, they are often of very high quality. Nonetheless, it is important to weigh both options to ensure that you select the method that will give you the results you want at a price you can reasonably afford.

To help you, we’ve listed a few important questions that you should ask as you determine whether you should build or buy your courses:

#1: Is the information you seek to transfer proprietary to your organization? Or, is it information that could easily be transferred within most organizations to achieve the desired results?

If you want to deploy courses on topics such as Business Math, Anti-Harassment, Mastering Microsoft Office, Presentation skills or even Team Building or Leadership, then you probably don’t need to build custom courses, as training around those topics is fairly consistent and could be successful at reaching the desired training outcomes without containing a significant amount of organization-specific knowledge.

However, if you want to deploy courses that educate your learners about your product or service offerings, show an organization-specific procedure or educate learners on how to utilize a system that was built in-house, it is best to build your own courses either using a course authoring tool like Knowledge Anywhere’s Course Builder, or outsource course design to an instructional design team.

#2: What type of usage do you anticipate for your courseware?

Custom built courses can be expensive and time consuming to create. If you won’t have a large volume of learners who will utilize those courses over time, it may not be worth the investment that it requires to create them from scratch. However, if those courses will be accessed on a frequent basis, have a relatively long shelf life and/or you have a large population of learners who will extract value from them, it might be worth it to go your own way.

#3: How quickly does your LMS need to be up and running?

If you need to plug and play, spending the extra time to develop courses may not be the right solution for you. You can save time and retain course quality by buying courses that are SCORM-compliant and ready for instant upload to your LMS.

Determining whether or not content customization is worth the additional investment over buying off-the-shelf courses is largely dependent on how you measure ROI for your training program. If you have organization-specific information you need to transfer, a large volume of learners and don’t need content ASAP, building your own content is oftentimes worth it. Although, you can always try a mixed approach where you create some of your own courses and then purchase ones that are more generic.

Either way, Knowledge Anywhere can help you solve your eLearning content development dilemma with off-the-shelf courseware, a course authoring tool or custom course development from Knowledge Anywhere’s team of Instructional Designers.

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