Many organizations face this training question at some point: Do we buy it or build it ourselves? Sometimes the choice is clear. When it isn’t, though, I want to give you a few points to ponder as you decide.


Is time on your side? If not and you need something quickly, buying might be your best option. If you decide you do have the time to develop your own, be careful not to underestimate the required level of effort to develop what you want. More about that later.


Are you dealing with a standard topic? Do you have plenty of off-the-shelf (OTS) options? If so, this might involve a treasure (money) decision. Why reinvent the wheel if it’s available and affordable? Now, if you have a proprietary need, like a topic unique to your business or special compliance or legal issues, other decisions come into play. Special training requirements could require you to build it yourself, bring in consultants, or pay for OTS customization.


This is a big factor for most organizations. Do you have someone in-house who can build the training you want? Even if the training is not technology-infused, creating good materials is harder than it seems. Your subject matter experts know their field, but do they know pedagogy and instructional design? Setting measurable learning outcomes? Developing valid and reliable assessments? If you don’t have the talent in-house, you might need to buy OTS or outsource the development. Outsourcing development to a consulting firm gives you access to specialized talent that can create exactly what you need. Consultants are a great fit when you need a custom solution.


Your treasure — resources like budget and development tools — is another big factor for many organizations. It’s easy to look at the price tag on OTS training and decide to take a stab at development yourself. Making the buy-or-build decision solely or primarily based on treasure isn’t always ideal. Inexperienced organizations can easily fall into the trap of underestimating the effort required to develop good training and run up costs that far exceed an OTS purchase. This is another situation where you might consider hiring consultants. A consulting firm will work with you to develop a training solution that meets your requirements and budget.

While other factors figure into the buy-versus-build decision, these are likely to be your four biggest. You probably won’t decide based on only one of them, either. I would especially caution you not to let treasure drive your decision. The cost of OTS or outsourcing can certainly cause sticker shock, but don’t rule it out until you have considered the total cost of in-house development. A consulting firm, like Reva Digital, can help you clarify your goals and objectives, choose technologies, and even develop and implement custom solutions. In the long run, buying OTS or hiring a consultant might be the more affordable options.

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