Top tips for designing your bespoke training solutions

Published: 27th September 2021

Bespoke training solutions are created around the specific needs of your learners, brand, and organisation. When training external partners or customers, custom training can localise standards and procedures, incorporate brand specific details, address topics specific to the partner and audience, while also complying with brand design guidelines.

Often built from scratch, these programmes offer customisation at every level. This is in contrast to standardised, “off-the-shelf” eLearning modules, which look the same and contain the same content regardless of who is learning, and for what purpose.

Customised training offers the obvious benefits. People learn better when they can frame the knowledge within the context of their environment. 

Why Design Bespoke Training?

Despite the power of bespoke training, relatively few companies opt for it. Only around 30 per cent allow for some semblance of customisation. Cost is typically cited as the biggest barrier. Upfront prices are understandably higher for a personalised courses and platforms than generic  ones. 

But we’re at an age when customers put a premium on service and relationships. People look more closely at how you serve them, versus what they’re served. In this space, knowing how to apply high-level concepts to industry-specific scenarios is a serious competitive edge that will take your learners a cut above the rest.

Address specific issues

While problems at work–low retention rate, a dip in revenue, poor customer engagement–can be painted with a broad brushstroke, solutions need to be granular. Custom training allows organisations to cut to the quick, instead of taking time to work down from a 20,000-foot view. 

For instance, a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) curriculum gives entry-level technicians the knowledge to manage Cisco products, but not necessarily how to apply these concepts to troubleshoot unique network configurations. It also empowers learners to identify gaps in their own skillset against what the organisation is trying to achieve.

Speeds up training

Off-the-shelf courses provide the foundation for many concepts, but not all of those will be relevant. 

By cutting down the time it takes to complete training, bespoke solutions demand less from learners. People like being given opportunities to improve their skills. Yet at the end of the day, they also have work to get back to. Tailor-made programmes give your audience exactly what they need to improve while being as minimally disruptive to their day-to-day as possible.

Allows for adaptation

The number of skills needed for work is changing quickly, driven by technological innovation. By 2050, over half of all employees will need reskilling, according to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report.

Modern training strategies have yet to adapt to the demands of the jobs of the future. A majority of HR departments are still wasting time training learners on skills they’ll never need. 

Bespoke training solutions allow organisations to keep their development programmes dynamic and sensitive to the rapidly evolving needs of learners.

How to Design Bespoke Training

Now that we’ve established the why, let’s look at the how of creating personalised programmes. Designing a course and programme from top to bottom may seem intimidating, so let’s break the process down into manageable chunks.

1. Assess your audience’s abilities

Not all learners start on equal footing. Even people on the same team may have different proficiency levels, which makes a one-size-fits approach wasteful. Bespoke training solutions keep the material always relevant and help organisations accurately identify and patch gaps in learners’ knowledge.

Competency can be hard to gauge, especially for more soft skills like communication or collaboration. Some ways to assess prior knowledge would be to conduct surveys and analyse previous performance reviews.

2. Survey your audiences 

Your learners are at the core of every bespoke learning programme. So it would only make sense to build around their feedback. Gathering meaningful data, however, is easier said than done. 

First, you need to ensure you’re actually reaching out to the right audience. Resources such as employee history and performance data will let you find the people you actually need to develop the programme for.

Even then, you may find it hard to get learners to open up, especially if it concerns areas of weakness. Some people aren’t comfortable with sharing comments in person. Vague questions will yield equally vague, and unusable, answers. 

A couple of things you can do to open an honest, transparent channel of valuable data from your partners: make feedback anonymous and leave no room for ambiguity. 

3. Establish audience-specific goals

A survey of open positions at companies like Google and Apple revealed that the skills required for their software developers are different from similar roles at average businesses by up to 40 per cent. That’s because these companies are hiring for who and what they need, not against standard hard skills based profiles.

Similarly, bespoke training solutions need to be created around metrics that matter to your organisation. And these objectives need to be quantifiable, even if you’re training for soft skills, such as communication or teamwork.

4. Give options

Two things separate adult learners in the office from students in school: agency and self-direction. Adult learners know what they want to learn, and want to control the pace at which they learn. It makes sense: training competes for attention and time they could be spending on work. 

Give your learners the ability to schedule training when convenient. Make materials available offline for the small slivers of time they can dedicate to reading or watching a video or two. Different formats can also help encourage engagement, as some learners may prefer videos over written content or vice versa.

5. Create a brand image

People rally for causes because they feel a personal connection to them. “People persevere because of purpose, not pay,” says John Eades, author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success.

Branded training materials connect your learners to your business’ vision and goals. Without that image, training can seem impersonal, another box to check on their to-do list before moving onto the next thing. 

A strong brand image makes learners feel like they’re part of the team, which helps make them feel more invested in your shared goals.

6. Pivot when necessary

Skills training is undergoing a period of great change. The digital revolution has necessitated the reskilling of workforces across every vertical. Meanwhile, the pandemic has shown everyone that remote learning is not only feasible but more cost-effective and powerful than classroom-based training.

When the skills of today may not be the skills needed for the jobs of tomorrow, flexibility is the only answer. Organisations need to be able to course correct even in the middle of a programme, in order to keep waste at a minimum and future-proof learners against a rapidly shifting landscape.

7. Evaluate at the end

Knowing when to pivot and when something’s working will be critical. And that is a decision you can only make by constantly monitoring the progress of your learners, and checking retention as they go.

Post-training feedback will be essential for creating your next crop of bespoke training solutions. Meanwhile, check-ins during the middle of training help spot problem areas and modules you may need to run learners through again.

For years, off-the-shelf solutions have been the de facto choice for many companies. Yet this generic approach is fast becoming inefficient, if not already outdated. Learners are looking for companies who truly care for their development, and actively try to provide opportunities to learn that are relevant to their careers.

Bespoke training solutions are an investment in time and money. But they’re investments that payback in dividends.

At Wahoo Learning, we can help minimise costs by designing a solution that works for your organisation. Call us today to organise a free demo and find out more.

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The author - lloyd smith

The author - Lloyd Smith

Lloyd is the Managing Director of Wahoo Learning. He has a passion for the learning technology industry, particularly the latest innovations and technologies.

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