14 June 2023

5 min.

Off-the-shelf training content vs. custom content: Which option to choose?

When it comes to training and learning, organizations are often faced with a dilemma when it comes to choosing between off-the-shelf and customized training content to develop their staff’s skills. Whereas off-the-shelf training solutions offer predefined, ready-to-use modules, customized content is specially designed to meet an organization’s very specific needs.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of off-the-shelf versus customized content? Find out which type of training content best suits your needs so you can make an informed decision!

What is off-the-shelf training content?

Off-the-shelf content is training content that is immediately ready for use. The content is already created, so you can train the people you want as soon as you acquire it.

These modules are often available on their own e-learning or learning experience platforms, such as Linkedin Learning or Teamtonic. However, some off-the-shelf training content, such as our ready-to-train kits, can also be imported directly into an existing Learning Management System (LMS).

What are the advantages of off-the-shelf content?

Quick to set up

Off-the-shelf content is often less expensive and can be implemented quickly, as it is pre-designed and prepared in advance. If you wish, you can train managers and employees the day after acquiring this content. Helping staff to develop their skills sooner rather than later, especially when it comes to interpersonal skills, also enables those trained to handle difficult situations more effectively, or to bring greater well-being, performance and cohesion to teams.

A wide choice of topics

There is a vast selection of off-the-shelf content available, covering a wide variety of subjects and skills.

Off-the-shelf training content can cover:

  • office skills (outlook, excel, word, powerpoint…)
  • computer skills (learning to code in Python)
  • foreign languages (French, English, Spanish…)
  • soft skills (team management, recognition, time and priority management, courage at work…)

In fact, taking a look at a catalog of off-the-shelf content can also give you inspiration for your talent development programs.

A specialized expertise

Off-the-shelf content providers often have in-depth expertise in their field, which guarantees quality content.

At Boostalab, for example, our content focuses on soft skills. We spend a lot of time reading studies and articles on the subject. This enables us to be critical of what we propose in our training content. It’s quite simple: we keep only the best and what’s most relevant to learners!

Ready-to-train kit

Modern, straightforward soft skills training content for your LMS

Ready-to-train kit

What are the disadvantages of off-the-shelf training content?

Off-the-shelf content may not precisely meet your organization’s specific needs, which can limit its effectiveness. Indeed, if you wish to train staff on processes unique to your organization, it would be wiser to use customized content.

When to use custom content?

Unlike off-the-shelf content, customized training content is specifically designed to meet the precise needs of an organization. It is developed in-house or in collaboration with content design experts and key members of the company.

What are the advantages of customized training content?

Content close to your organization’s reality

Customized content allows you to precisely target the skills and knowledge required to meet your organization’s specific needs. Because you create it, or have it created, you can give concrete examples from your organization’s reality. This enables managers and employees to make direct links between what they learn and their work.

Strengthening the employer brand

With customized content, you can adapt formats to your organization’s colors and graphic universe. What’s more, you can use the vocabulary and jargon used in your day-to-day business. These elements reinforce your employer brand by creating cohesion between the various tools deployed.

Customized content

We create the content you need

Discover our services

What are the disadvantages of having custom training content created?

Higher costs and longer design times

Custom content can be costly and time-consuming due to project management and coordination of the various stakeholders
the development of specific content and the various validation stages involved.

Custom content can take several months to finalize and get ready for deployment. What’s more, if objectives, context or methods change along the way, adjusting the content may entail additional costs or additional revision time.

Finally, unlike off-the-shelf content, HR managers will also be responsible for ensuring that content remains relevant and up-to-date.

Expertise that’s not always available

Custom content creation requires expertise in instructional design and content development, which may not be available in-house.

After all, not just anyone can become a training content designer! There’s an art to designing content that will engage learners and encourage them to take action to concretely develop their skills. If this skill isn’t available in-house, you’ll need to look for a specialist.

Choosing between off-the-shelf and customized training content depends on the needs and resources of each organization. Off-the-shelf content can be a fast, cost-effective option, but may lack personalization. Customized content offers precise adaptation to specific needs, increased relevance, but can be more expensive.

Whatever the decision, it’s important to keep the organization’s training objectives in mind, and to ensure that the content chosen is aligned with these objectives to guarantee an effective and rewarding learning experience.