Training and certification companies – like most information-based organizations today – rely heavily on a technological infrastructure that makes it possible for them to create, optimize, and distribute their products and services efficiently. That’s why custom software development plays such a huge role in their success.
In many cases, training and certification programs are wholly or mostly web-based at this point, placing even more emphasis on the need for effective software that can help these companies organize and manage their programs while maximizing value for their internal and external customers.
The prepackaged software solution option
There are a number of prepackaged software solutions aimed directly at the training and certification industry, many of which combine content development and management along with backend management of the company’s marketing and sales, accounting, and enrollment functions.
Some of these Learning Management System (LMS) solutions are wholly web-based, others include components that are installed for internal company use. Some provide pre-made templates for course design, which may make authoring of simple eLearning content easier. And, in most cases, they provide some level of messaging capability to allow admins and course instructors to interact directly with users without resorting to scattered email conversations.
However, there are a lot of limitations inherent in the use of prepackaged software solutions, and LMS is no exception.
One of the biggest issues that most companies run into when evaluating a prepackaged solution is a form of the 80/20 rule: 80% of what they actually need and will use is provided by just 20% of the product’s capabilities.
This is because prepackaged solutions are – by their very nature – over-engineered in an effort to cover all bases and be all things to everyone. As a result, they’re often bloated and difficult to learn because they include so many features and options, and adoption is therefore slow and painful, or eventually fizzles out.
On the other hand, there are often unique parts of each company’s workflow and business processes that no prepackaged software solution can perfectly complement. As a result, the company is either forced to change their (possibly very successful) process to match the software, or extensive and expensive customization of the software is required, which may or may not eventually result in a seamless integration with the company’s workflow.
In both cases, the limitations of prepackaged software can end up costing time, money, and effort that a custom software development solution would avoid.
Custom software can reach 100% usability
The first key benefit of investing in a custom software solution as opposed to a prepackaged LMS is that a custom solution will be built from the ground up to perfectly mesh with the company’s existing and/or optimal workflows and processes.
That means higher usability, shorter learning curves, and a more valuable end product that causes little or no disruption when adopted.
Since a custom software development project is not limited by any premade code or design restrictions, patented workflows, or recommended onboarding steps, no 80/20 rule applies. 100% of the finished product will be 100% useful to the organization.
Custom software can include all necessary integrations up front
Most likely, your training or certification company is already using one or more other software packages to manage front- and back-end processes like accounting (such as Quickbooks), CRM (such as Salesforce), and CMS (such as WordPress).
While prepackaged solutions may or may not provide the option to integrate with your existing systems, and while that integration may or may not require an additional significant outlay of cash and time, a custom software development project can include all integrations in the initial build of the product. This provides a more seamless integration with less post-purchase investment.
Seamless integration also greatly improves the efficiency of all the other programs your company already uses, as explained below.
Custom software development boosts internal efficiencies, profit margin, and customer service
Finally, a custom software solution that provides 100% usability and seamlessly integrates with all other front- and back-end systems creates numerous efficiencies across the organization’s entire workflow.
Data entry in one system can be instantly vetted and transferred to other systems. Changes in one system can either carry over to another or trigger actions in other systems, both of which eliminates time-intensive and error-prone manual intervention by a team member.
In all these cases, prepackaged LMS solutions may or may not offer this level of functionality, and seamless integration could be very expensive. But identifying and creating these kinds of efficiencies is really the main goal of a custom software developer working on this type of project.
Those efficiencies can have a direct impact on two vital business goals – increased profit and improved customer service. These should be carefully factored in when comparing the cost and value of working with a prepackaged LMS solution versus a custom software solution.
If your training and certification company is currently looking into improving or replacing your LMS system, contact us to discuss your options when it comes to a custom software development solution.