A few years ago, I was in a training leadership role at a large Fortune 500 company where my team was responsible for creating effective learning experiences for over 70,000 team members. With a very small team, that was a daunting task.

The team was overworked and we had about a million priorities to focus on from compliance training to product training to leadership training and more.  Even in that state, at that time if someone would have asked me if I was interested in off-the-shelf options, I totally would have scoffed at them. “Off the shelf? Heck no – we create all of our own content!”

In my mind – off the shelf couldn’t live up to my standards for looks, design, or content. I was a content control freak. So, the small team chugged on, putting out the content that we could. Looking back and knowing what I know now…we could have done more, better if we would have leaned on an off the shelf training provider.

So What Were The Reservations About Off-The-Shelf?

They don’t know us. They don’t speak our language. They don’t know our learners. They aren’t passionate about good instructional design. They’ll just give us eLearning courses and then they won’t be around to troubleshoot and we’ll be left holding the bag.

These are all thoughts I had about off-the-shelf providers. If you say you’ve had them too, I wouldn’t be mad at you.

Here's What We Learned

Here’s what I’ve learned after joining an off-the-shelf training company (side note: I’m not writing this because I’m trying to sell you on my company– I am not a salesperson, I’m writing this as an honest and real perspective from a training leader who has learned some lessons over the years). If you have an attitude like I did about off the shelf, you could be missing a chance to help your learners learn and help reduce some of your stress as well.

Overall, the beauty of an off the shelf provider is that they can take some of the burdens off your shoulders and serve as an extension of your team. An off the shelf provider can help you with training that is industry-specific – think about topics like MACRA, Account Management, Market Access, Introduction to the C-Suite, and Disease State topics – so you can focus on the training that is specific to your organization like product training.

Here’s some advice on choosing an off-the-shelf provider – look for one that offers more than just content. Look for one that will help you choose the correct content to meet your organization’s specific needs and goals. Look for one who has blended learning resources and knows how to curate them effectively to improve results. Look for a provider who will help you with your priorities, support your learners, and who won’t bail once the check is signed.

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