Centralized or Decentralized Training: Which model is better?

“It takes too long.” This is the single most common complaint from stakeholders with regards to centralized learning organizations who create training content for different business functions. The traditional method of pairing a centralized team of instructional designers with distributed Subject Matter Experts (SME) no longer scales effectively to meet the ever-increasing speed of business (with rare exceptions).

An approach used by decentralized development teams to try and speed up training content production is to get SMEs to use the latest eLearning authoring tools. But the reality is that tools like Articulate or Adobe were designed for dedicated instructional designers / full-time content developers (not SMEs) and they have steep learning curves. Given the sporadic nature of how often SMEs are tasked with creating content, learning these specialized tools and retaining the know-how is difficult. And just because someone can learn a new tool doesn’t mean they will produce instructional sound training content.

Some organizations try to solve this problem by teaching SMEs formal instructional design techniques, which typically requires several days of face-to-face training. For the most part, this fails, for a number of reasons, the primary being that SMEs do this so infrequently that even if you manage to train them now, they will likely not retain the knowledge/skill over time. SMEs just don’t interact with these specialized tools and processes regularly enough to become effective.


Given the challenges of internally scaling instructional design, another approach is to outsource training content development. But for company specific strategy, products and processes, the learning curve is equally steep for a third-party, increasing delivery times and costs beyond what many organizations can afford. So what other choice do you really have?

A relatively recent concept is crowdsourcing training content development, in which everyone in an organization can be a content creator. This scenario can work whether you have a centralized or decentralized corporate training department, who is still needed to guide and support users. But the question remains, how can you expect the average employee to create instructional sound training if there isn’t an easy way to streamline and automate corporate instructional design?

Whether you are centralized or decentralized or moving to a model where everyone in the organization can create training content, the key is to make sure it produces effective training. This requires applying instructional design best practices without trying to make everyone a certified instructional designer. If you don’t automate the corporate instructional design process through new technology, you are going to build training content that is not mapped to the competencies, business needs, and desired learning outcomes you want to achieve.

Cognota is a technology-driven solution that guides users to instructional design best practices and eliminates the time it takes to transfer knowledge with subject matter experts. It’s scalable, easy to use and includes features to allow instructional designers to help every employee work more productively. It’s a new way to make sure that everyone has the basic instructional design skills required to build quality training.

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Centralized or Decentralized Training: Which model is better?