Published on 2015/08/03

Three Factors That Give Differentiating Power to Customized Program Providers

The EvoLLLution | Three Factors That Give Differentiating Power to Customized Program Providers
Flexibility, effectiveness and responsiveness are key differentiators for institutions competing in the customized training space.

Why would a company consider an outside provider to deliver their training needs? Because they’re looking for solutions.

These organizations have a vision of where they want to be, and they need knowledge to fill the gap. Although they’re willing to go outside of their organization to find it, they want programming that fits their context like a glove.

By approaching the situation as a collaborative effort, you can deliver what they’re looking for and develop a reputation for success.

Here are three factors that I believe give differentiating power to customized programs:

1. Tailored Content

Start by simply listening; hear what they have to say. Once they’ve determined where they need to be, finding the solution should be a collaborative effort between the organization’s stakeholders and your instructors. As subject matter experts, your staff can recommend specific courses and tailor them to the needs of the intended audience.

One example I can provide is the work we’ve done with one of our long-term partners, the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services. We created a customized undergraduate certificate in Health and Social Services Management for the organization’s staff, which serves an indigenous population in northern Quebec. The program is built around issues experienced by professionals servicing indigenous communities, the topics addressed are those they will encounter in the field, and the solutions are applicable to the context of the indigenous population.

2. Flexible Scheduling

Recognize that although you may be accustomed to operating from your institution’s campus, not everyone can come to you. Your partners have their own venues, and they likely want to accommodate their employees’ schedule.

As a result, our instructors are not only available on campus. We also work with partners to provide a schedule that works best for them. We can deliver programming onsite at a partner’s location, schedule classes during the day, in the evening or on weekends. One organization requested classes take place on Fridays and Saturday. Another course on the topic of lean services resulted in our instructor visiting a student’s workplace. In that case, it was an active hospital emergency room!

We also offer hybrid learning options, which combine multiple methods of delivery. A recent example was the delivery of English-language courses to French-speaking health care providers on behalf of Health Canada. Participants attended lessons by logging into online course content, as well as interacting with instructors via live video.

Offering flexible delivery methods means we can provide our instructional services locally, nationally, and even internationally.

3. Industry Expertise

Your institution’s expertise comes from your instructors. They have the education, training and practical experience to combine academia with enterprise.

Here at McGill, our instructors actively work in their industry, and many conduct applied research. As a result, they’re able to bring the reality of the workplace into the classroom. And because many of our instructors speak English and French, we can offer it in two languages.


These are the factors that I believe give differentiating power to customized programs. Partners will be pleased to work with an institution that is flexible, effective, and responsive to their needs. As a result, your institution will earn a reputation as the professional link between higher education and the workplace.

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Readers Comments

Brian Williams 2015/08/03 at 10:11 am

I think a lot of these factors really come down to commitment. Partners want to see that you value their time and their business and are willing to do whatever it takes to fulfill their needs perfectly, even if that means delivering programs in hospital emergency rooms.

Rosa Brisk 2015/08/04 at 10:38 am

That link between the classroom and the workplace is really becoming such an important factor even among more traditional and elite universities. I think it’s a good sign that we’re starting to break down that ivory tower piece by piece and really engage with the world outside of our walls. All the knowledge in the world is no good if we don’t do anything with it

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