Content Curation

Make your in-house content the star of the show

Make your in-house content the star of the show

It’s the age-old debate for any learning team: do we buy in off-the-shelf learning content or build our own from scratch?

For businesses like Greystar, the answer is both! Greystar expertly combined the convenience and speed of off-the-shelf content with the advantages of personalised, tailored in-house content, called Greystar Originals. Let’s explore what that looks like, along with how you can choose whether off-the-shelf content or resources created in-house are right for you.


Contextualised in-house content for engagement


When it comes to which content is best for your business, there’s no right or wrong answer. Some of the key benefits of in-house content include:

  • Customisation - you can create content that aligns perfectly with your culture, values and specific learning objectives
  • Context - content is directly relevant to your employees, company and industry
  • Control - update content as and when it’s needed and make tweaks based on your specific use cases
  • Cost - use your in-house team to create your own content, whether that’s using an elearning authoring tool, screen recording software or self-recorded videos
  • Confidentiality - protect your sensitive and proprietary information by keeping content production in-house to significantly reduce security risks

In-house content is great for covering those topics you just won’t find outside your own business - your unique processes, your culture and everything that makes your company yours. It’s also handy for sharing institutional knowledge and breaking down silos, opening up communication channels across your organisation.


The convenience and speed of off-the-shelf content

elmo off the shelf

In contrast, some of the benefits of opting for off-the-shelf content are:

  • Time to launch - you can be up and running in hours with off-the-shelf content - simply purchase and go
  • Expertise - tap into subject matter expertise not otherwise available in your company (e.g. on highly specialised topics)
  • Efficiency - quality content on virtually any topic imaginable already exists, meaning you don’t have to duplicate efforts by creating it yourself or conducting extensive quality checks
  • Scalability - you can quickly and easily scale your learning programme by purchasing more modules or licences as your business grows
  • Variety - your employees can explore a wide variety of content available in your off-the-shelf package, piquing their interest and allowing them to explore

On top of this, off-the-shelf content is useful for more universal topics, such as DEIB, wellbeing, leadership and soft skills, whereas in-house content can be created to align with your learning and comms strategy, which is unique to your company, your teams and your people.


How to build content in-house

builder and tools

As you can imagine, taking on the task of creating content in-house is no mean feat. But the good news is that even with a super streamlined team, it’s still possible to do it yourself! If you’re thinking about going it alone, some of the main things to consider are:

  • How will content be created? For instance, do you need a designer, developer, elearning authoring tool or any special software? 
  • Who is responsible for creating content? Is it the L&D team or the SMEs throughout your business?
  • Who is responsible for checking the accuracy and quality of content?
  • How will you measure the success of your content? Will you look at the number of users, time spent learning, how many times people access assets…?
  • How do you update content? How quickly can you update it?
  • What are the constraints of your in-house team (e.g. technical skills, time, lack of SMEs)? Do you need to offer training?
  • How will in-house content sit alongside off-the-shelf content? Will it be available in the same platform? What if your company’s own content (such as health and safety processes) conflicts with what’s in the off-the-shelf assets?

Understanding the full situation upfront will put you in a much better position to succeed with your combination of in-house and off-the-shelf content, whatever that looks like for you.


What does great in-house content look like?


Let’s take a closer look at Greystar Originals. As of today, 52% of the assets now living in the Business School are Greystar Originals, showing how much employees love them!

Greystar started its learning journey by populating its Greystar Business School with high-quality off-the-shelf content by Hemsley Fraser, helping it get up and running quickly despite not having a huge L&D team.

However, Greystar quickly realised it had learning needs beyond what the off-the-shelf content could provide, relating to Greystar’s specific processes and roles, which required custom content.

That’s where Greystar Originals came in. Greystar’s L&D team worked closely with SMEs across the business to create short, sharp resources, such as short videos, to capture and share knowledge. For instance, one employee was identified as a spreadsheet whizz, so they would create videos sharing how they completed certain tasks to help their colleagues improve their own Excel skills. 

In fact, before long, Greystar found that its Greystar Originals were the most popular resources within its platform, helping fuel technical capability, skills and knowledge across the business. This original content was especially important for engaging Greystar employees throughout the global pandemic, as Greystar’s own processes were changing quickly. While off-the-shelf got them up and running on their learning journey quickly, in-house content was what really made the platform take off.


Choosing the right off-the-shelf content

Throwing stuff in the trolley

At 5app, we’re no strangers to off-the-shelf content. We partner with companies like Hemsley Fraser and All of Us to provide top-quality off-the-shelf content on a wide variety of business-critical topics, such as DEIB, leadership, project management, personal development, communication and more. 

Looking for easy-access, affordable soft skills and leadership content? Find out more about 5app’s Content Hub in collaboration with content experts Hemsley Fraser. 

But all learning content is not made equal, and nobody wants to be left with a platform left gathering dust if your content isn’t inspiring or doesn’t resonate with employees. Even the best platform in the world will fight a losing battle against generic content, so these are the questions you need to ask before you sign on the dotted line with your content vendor:

  • How much can we realistically spend on content?
  • When do we need it to go live? Tomorrow, next week, next month…?
  • What topics do you need?
  • What if our needs change in the future? Can we easily add more content?
  • What do we need to deliver the content? Is our current platform suitable, do we need a new one, or can we access the content another way?
  • How do we want to manage the vendor relationship? Do we want a self-service solution or a more personal service?
  • Can the content be branded for a more consistent learning experience?
  • What if we want to add our own in-house content down the line?


Give your L&D team an easy life

Garfield in a hammock

Whether you choose in-house, off-the-shelf content or a mix of both, it’s vital that you pick a user-friendly platform that allows your L&D team to quickly manage and upload content. It’s often sensible to launch your platform with high-quality off-the-shelf content to get the ball rolling, and to create and upload additional in-house content when you’re up and running.

When you take the plunge and start building your own content, make sure you offer training to all relevant SMEs to help them create their assets, whether that’s a step-by-step guide to screen recording with narration, pointers for self-recording videos or how to design a quick elearning module with your authoring tool. You may also want to empower employees to create their own user-generated content (UGC) for even more efficient knowledge sharing, so the more user-friendly your systems are to use, the better. Alternatively, if you’re letting SMEs create content independently, ensure you have a comprehensive quality control process in place to maintain the standard of your content, no matter who’s making it.

The L&D team can also create templates to make it as quick and painless for SMEs to create content that looks great for a better user experience, and you can pull in AI tools to add transcripts, subtitles, voiceovers and tags to make content accessible and searchable.

Finding the balance between leveraging the low barriers to entry of off-the-shelf content and quality and personalised experience of in-house content is key to the success of your learning programme. No matter which you choose (and most likely, it’ll be both), make sure you pick a platform with in-built flexibility in case things change in the future

A platform with in-built flexibility, you say…?

Off-the-shelf, in-house or both?

Get your 5app demo now to see how easy it is to manage all your content from one user-friendly platform.


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