So you’ve decided that you need an eLearning platform. You’ve done your market research and you know your industry. You also know the course content you want to put in your platform and have a strategy planned for reaching the students that will take your eLearning courses. With all that settled, just need the actual eLearning platform to make all the rest of that happen.
Which ultimately begs the question… should you buy or build your eLearning platform? Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of both options.
Building your own eLearning Platform
Software development is a complicated and costly investment, which is why most people who need an LMS platform choose to utilize an existing eLearning platform solution as opposed to having their own platform developed from the ground up. The complexities and unforeseen costs associated with having a proprietary eLearning platform that you had built yourself is comparable to buying a house: you like the thought of having something that is completely your own instead of renting from someone else, but maybe you have not completely thought through all the long term costs involved or whether you have the required skills or resources needed to maintain it over the long haul.
It is easy to see why developing your own eLearning platform involves the potential for unpredictable costs and why the vast majority of those needing a solution choose a previously developed eLearning platform. However, having your own proprietary, custom built eLearning platform also comes with the advantage of not being constrained by the limitations of a licensed, cookie cutter eLearning platform that may not fit all of your needs.
With all that in mind, here are some considerations to take into account should you want to build your own eLearning platform:
- The upfront development cost of building your platform. By far, the greatest costs you will incur with your own custom built eLearning platform is during the initial development phase when your developers are building your platform from the ground up. If go the route of having your eLearning platform built on WordPress, like the Academy Of Mine platform is, you can expect to spend $30,000 to $120,000 for just the first few months of development. Note that that figure doesn’t include ongoing maintenance or other unexpected overhead.
- Whether to have an in-house employee, freelancer or agency development your platform? Another factor to consider when custom building an eLearning platform is exactly who will be developing it. You have several options, all coming with pros and cons:
- Using an in-house developer who is your employee gives you the confidence and peace of mind of knowing that you are your developer’s number one priority and sole focus. On the inverse of that, you are also responsible for that employee’s salary and benefits, while in the long term you also may not need a full time developer.
- Freelancers are convenient to hire on a project by-project basis, giving you a bit more flexibility and not being constrained by the costs associated with an actual employee. However, you very likely may not have the freelance developer’s sole and devoted attention due to them having other clients while also doing work for you. Depending on your freelancer, this may or may not impact you. However, the old adage at times is true: you cannot serve two masters.
- Going with an agency to develop your eLearning platform will give you the confidence that your platform development is in good hands with a dedicated team of experienced professionals. However, with an agency you’ll also be paying substantially for that peace of mind.
- The ongoing costs associated with maintaining the eLearning platform. This is an area that is often overlooked when a company chooses to go ahead and have its own software developed. While it is true that the bulk of costs for your proprietary eLearning platform will be incurred during the initial development phase, the ongoing costs that are required to maintaining the platform can also be quite considerable. These costs may include server costs, costs associated with trouble shooting any bugs or upgrades that need to be updated in the platform and also any custom built integration with third party tools requiring further development.
Another aspect of software development that is important to note is the ever-evolving nature of technology: technological advancements move at a very quick pace and that pace is only likely to continue to increase as further technological advancements take place. The speed in this regard is very much compounded, as one advancement builds on prior breakthroughs. Given this, It is possible that by the time that your eLearning platform is through its initial development and ready to be used that your own proprietary platform very well may not be the most current software available.
Buying (or Licensing) your eLearning Platform
There’s just something very appealing about being able to buy the software you need right off the shelf and not worrying about the particulars of it. Plug and play is great, right? Everything about this option is very convenient, that is until you realize that the prefab software you licensed is not quite able to do everything you needed it to…
Licensing an eLearning platform comes with both pros and cons which should be considered.
- A well-maintained platform. Because of a dedicated team of developers, your eLearning platform will also be up-to-date by industry standards due to your eLearning vendor’s sole priority being the development and management of their platform.
- Affordability. The cost to license a platform will generally always be lower than having your own developed, there also are many different pricing options available to fit almost any LMS budget.
- Convenience. Assuming you have your course content already developed, populating your licensed eLearning platform should be pretty painless. Making your life even easier, some eLearning platform vendors also offer course content migration services from one platform to another.
- Lack of customizations. Being a pre-packaged software solution, the platform you utilize may not have all of the customizations you need in it or integrate with all of the applications you’d like it to connect to.
- You are one of many clients. As is the nature of being a SaaS company, eLearning platform vendors make their money selling the same product you’re licensing to many other businesses. Given this, the customer service of larger eLearning vendors may possibly be lacking.
- The eLearning platform clearly is not yours. The eLearning platform may not be white-labeled and may be branded with the name of the vendor, this in part detracts from the value of your brand as well as could be potentially confusing to your students as they navigate from your website to the platform.
Some of these factors may be more important to you than others, and their relevance should be weighed against what your individual needs are.
Is Buying or Building your eLearning Platform better for you?
The answer to this question lies precisely in what you need out of your eLearning platform and what resources you have available make that happen. Some may find that it is worthwhile for them to invest in having their own proprietary eLearning platform developed, while others may find the large costs come with an in-house LMS solution are untenable in the scope of their business over the long term.
Want to hear some good news about having to choose between buying or building your eLearning platform? You may not have to choose!
Academy Of Mine offers a happy medium between buying or building an eLearning Platform
Did you know that you don’t have to make a choice between buying or building your own eLearning platform? While the Academy Of Mine platform is a proprietary learning management system which is licensed by users, we also offer the option of custom building any features a client may need that are not a part of the standard platform.
This option is the best of both worlds for those needing an eLearning platform:
- Benefit from the substantial cost savings of utilizing an already-developed platform over an in-house platform
- The eLearning platform was built and continually maintained by developers solely dedicated it, with these same developers also being available to clients to troubleshoot any issues that may arise
- As your needs change and your business evolves, the option to have any customizations or integrations you may need tailor-built into your licensed platform are available able to you
Sounds pretty good, right? Be sure to take a look at our eLearning platform plans here to learn more.