Why You Shouldn’t Build Your Own Learning Tech Stack

post why you should build your tech stack
Rachel Rheinhart
April 6, 2023

Taking the digital plunge and investing in modernizing your learning experience is an exciting time. However, nothing sucks the excitement out of leveling up your technology more than technical debt and operational costs. 

In a recent episode of John Leh’s Talented Learning Podcast, Thought Industries’ CEO Barry Kelly commented, “50% or more of the organizations we work with are migrating off homegrown technology. At some point, the cost to support the technology becomes really high. Any organization that writes code experiences technical debt… You may end up spending more time and money just keeping your technology operational than developing and deploying new features that add business value.”

If you’re considering a DIY learning technology stack, you might be walking straight into a costly and frustrating mistake. This article will help you consider your long-term learning goals, and perform a cost/benefit analysis for build vs buy. 

Why do organizations build their own learning solution?

“Cookie cutter solutions won’t work for us.”

That’s the most common objection that we hear to deploying off-the-shelf options for learning technology. Some companies cite the importance of implementing customized branding. Others have extremely unique and complex business needs. No matter the reason, many organizations believe that building in-house is the only way to find flexibility and control.

The problem is, building in-house puts pressure on your internal teams, and often doesn’t work for the long term. Your in-house team becomes a potential single point of failure, especially if key team members leave the company, or their attention is needed elsewhere. 

Building internally also involves a large amount of operational overhead, not only to develop and launch, but also to manage your learning technology moving forward. You’re throwing full-time employee hours into keeping the technology running smoothly. And, you need to add more whenever you want to scale, or introduce new features to the mix. 

Working smarter: the added value of buying enterprise learning technology  

When you opt for buying an enterprise learning platform instead of building in-house, the efficiency gains are massive. It’s not only about deflecting the resource investment needed to build a homegrown technology. Partnering with an enterprise vendor and onboarding their off-the-shelf solution also adds efficiencies and value elsewhere. Think about:

  • Automation: Consider the value of auto-scaling and automatic updates compared with dedicating full-time staff to manage upgrades, maintenance, and troubleshooting. 
  • Strategic resources: Instead of using headcount to manage repetitive manual tasks, free up staff to perform higher value business strategy elsewhere. 
  • Time to value: Achieving ROI from a homegrown solution is a journey with a lengthy roadmap. Onboarding an enterprise-ready solution allows you to start running, right out of the gate. 
  • Integrations: Connecting data sources and existing systems is a real headache – homegrown or DIY solutions will need even more manual lift to get connected. 
  • Reporting: It’s never been more critical to communicate value. An enterprise learning platform provides comprehensive analytics, integrating seamlessly with your internal data lake.

Match your learning technology with long-term business objectives

There’s no doubt that for many organizations, the build vs. buy conversation feels like a lose/lose situation. Build in-house and add heavy operational costs and point of failure, or buy off-the-shelf and lose the flexibility and control. 

What if we told you, you can have it all? 

If you’re searching for a scalable and affordable learning solution that can also meet niche learner needs and offer complete adaptability, it’s time that you took a closer look at the idea of a headless LMS. 

A headless LMS decouples the front-end experience from the back-end, which gives you maximum control over the end result. Think of it as a platform with the benefits of a homegrown solution, without the downsides of heavy operational costs. Instead, all of these are handled by your vendor. 

On top of that, by working with a headless LMS provider like Thought Industries, you get a partner in your success who can advise on best practices, business strategy, and instructional design. Our business is building engaging learning experiences, so whether you sell training directly, or whether you want to train customers on a complex product – we’ve ‘been there done that’, and can share the well-worn route to business growth. 

If you’re still under the misconception that buying core components of your learning tech stack will stand in the way of flexibility and control, it’s time to think again. Technology has moved on from cookie-cutter or templated learning platforms. 

A headless LMS can actually give you more freedom, removing the operational weight from your shoulders and allowing your learning experiences to take flight. 

Interested in learning more about headless LMS technology? Schedule a demo to see how it works. 

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