Custom vs Generic Training: 2 Sides of The Same Coin

Custom vs Generic

First Things First

When considering to invest in a training program, an organization usually has a few different options. First, you must decide between creating the training in-house or outsourcing to 3rd party. This article is focused on the outsourcing option. Since most organizations don’t have the capabilities of creating training programs, they choose to contract a different company to develop them.

Who’s On Second

The second decision is a little bit harder to make: custom vs generic training. You should consider several factors.

  • The cost difference between a custom vs generic program
  • The time it takes to make each type of program
  • Which program is more effective/will be better received by the organization

Tackling these questions allows you to make the ultimate decision of what type of training program to buy. So, let’s start with generic programs:

Generic Training

If something is generic it means it’s nonspecific, general or common. Whoever made it did not have a specific end-user in mind. They created the training for many different organizations to purchase as off-the-shelf products. Thus, the training includes knowledge or skills that apply to several fields of work. For example, a customer service training program almost always includes active listening, empathy and communication skills building.

Generic programs are typically cheaper to buy because they only need to be made once and then sold to multiple companies. They can be very effective depending on the content and the approach taken while creating the training. The draw-backs of generic training programs is just that: they are generic. They aren’t branded to your company. They will not include the values and culture your company has. This makes them more impersonal and harder for your workforce to relate to.

Custom Training

Customized training programs, on the other hand, are created and branded to your specific business needs. Thinking back to the customer service example, maybe your employees actually have a great relationship with their clients. They are great listeners and your clients love them. However, maybe their internal communication skills are lacking. Whenever they get important pieces of information about certain clients, they don’t do a good job of passing it on to the people who need to know that information. In such a case, you can purchase a custom training program that directly affects that bad behavior. In doing so, you can actually save money because you’re not paying for an entire generic program when you only need it for one specific skill.

On average, however, custom training programs are more expensive. Because they have to be made new every time and only made for one client, they cost more money and take more time to produce. However, their “customizability” allows you to work with the 3rd-party making the training. That way, you can include everything you want in the training and nothing that you don’t. Custom training programs are also branded to your company so they have your logos, values and culture mixed into their DNA. Additionally, you can even include your own employees in the program.

Custom vs Generic: What’s Right for You?

In conclusion, when you are in the market for a new training program, you have a few decisions to make right off the bat. You should not make these decisions lightly. They can have a lasting impact on your organization. Whichever way you go, generic or custom, a sizable investment will have to made on behalf of your organization. Generic programs are typically cheaper and more readily available. But, they don’t match your organization directly and may include aspects that are irrelevant to your organization. Custom programs typically cost more and take more time to produce. Even so, you can brand custom solutions to your organization and towards your specific needs. The effectiveness of either program depends on the quality of the program itself, the embedded instructional design and content.

The training program coin is two-sided. Which side is a better fit for you?