Outsourcing Training: Deciding Between Open Enrollment and CustomizedCourtland Chaney | Lead Customized Education Instructor, Louisiana State University
Providing learning experiences to upgrade skills and knowledge required in current and future positions is the essence of training employees for professional and organizational success. But even when we have decided to rely on external vendors to provide the training services, we still need to assess the advantages and disadvantages of the various training alternatives and to decide whether to simply use available training opportunities or seek to have those training experiences customized for our organization.
Of course, there are circumstances in which customization of training isn’t a viable option. For example, if you have only a few employees who need to be trained or if your staffing needs limit the number of employees who can go to training at the same time, you will undoubtedly need to send those employees to an existing training course. If you are able to train a sizable group of employees at the same time, however, you may find customization of training beneficial.
Situations Where Existing, Open-Enrollment Training is Necessary
Sending employees to existing training courses/programs is sometimes the simplest alternative. An Introduction to Word or Excel or learning accounting basics does not require customized training and customization would provide little benefit.
There are still many benefits associated with employees attending existing training courses, even when customization of content is not an option. Attending employees learn from instructors who are experts in their fields, obtain new and different ideas and viewpoints, develop an outside perspective, and do it all without the day-to-day demands and distractions of the job. Participants also learn from each other; thus, when employees from different industries and/or businesses are present, attendees can develop an even broader vision of alternative business practices.
Four Reasons to Customize the Training
Bringing the external training programs to the organization and then customizing the content can retain most of the advantages of open-enrollment training while leveraging the benefits of customization. The benefits of customizing the training for a cohort group of fellow employees include the following:
1. Greater Control Over Content
While training topics are already set in existing training courses, one can change both the content and the time allocated to the various topics when customizing training programs. Customization of training and the opportunity to discuss company-specific issues confidentially helps to assure both the relevance and transferability of the training to the business.
2. Reduced Cost
When sending employees to off-site training locations, especially when the training experience requires travel, the organization must pay for both the tuition as well as all expenses, and as the number of employees attending increases, the resultant cost increases. It is often less expensive to ask the instructor(s) to travel to your site to limit travel expenses. Many training vendors will also accommodate additional trainees without a significant increases in fees.
3. Time and Schedule Management
Pre-existing training programs are based on set time allocations for topics and pre-determined calendar schedules. When bringing one of these training courses in-house, the vendor may be able to modify the schedule as well as the time allocated to different topics to better address unique company needs. For example, a three-day supervisory training course could be taught as three days spaced over a longer time period or even as six half-day training sessions if travel requirements for participants are manageable.
4. Development of team and organizational culture
When training programs are conducted for and with a group of employees from the same organization, the single most significant benefit arguably is the opportunity for these employees to bond with each other and develop a shared vision and perspective of how they will work together. Hence, the shared, customized training experience creates the opportunity for better interpersonal communication, joint efforts to address organizational issues, the emergence of more effective group norms and mutually shared knowledge and expectations.
While education and training for our workforce is critical for the success of our businesses and the quality life of all of our employees, our organizations must determine the ideal training content, process and logistics required for the ideal outcome and, of course, evaluate the benefits and cost effectiveness of the decision. Customized training programs may provide the most benefits as well as the most cost-effective benefits.