Let’s look at some of the important criteria for the selection of your tools to get the best results.
Training Requirement: Your training requirement is the most important factor. Do you need to rollout a quick demo of the latest features of your product for your sales force? Or do you have a requirement to train your global workforce on some mandatory or compliance issues within a very short time? OR do you have a need for training your employees on a new application that is critical to your processes, say a performance appraisal tool that will be implemented organization-wide before the next review cycle? The nature of your training requirement will determine the selection of your tool. Based on your immediate and long term requirements, you can select a tool that lets you quickly roll out courses without complex interactivity that don’t have too much of complex interactivity or a tool that lets you capture software simulations and so on. The functionality and intended use is another important factor. Different tools have powerful capabilities for different functionalities. For instance captivate is ideal for simulations and application training. For soft skills training, Captivate wouldn’t be the best choice.
Composition of the Team: The team composition and available skill sets is another key factor affecting tool selection. You might have a full-fledged team of instructional designers who can be taught to use rapid authoring tools, or you might have trainers who are comfortable only with PowerPoint, or you might have a few developers on the team along with the instructional designers, in which case, you can do a blend of rapid tools and more traditional programming to get the best of both worlds. So, do keep in mind the technical capability of your authors. Some of them are SMEs and would have no experience in building custom interactivities that require some kind of action sequences, in which case an entry-level PowerPoint-based tool would be ideal. If you have developers on your team, you might want a tool that taps their expertise. Whatever be your training requirement, keep the limitations of your possible authors in mind when short-listing the tool.
Nature of Content: Another aspect that will affect your tool selection is how simple or complex your courseware requirements are. For simple pages with not too much of complex interactivity, you might want to consider tools that have certain in-built features such as pre-built templates that cover certain common types of trainings, such as process trainings, compliance trainings etc. If you want to develop full-fledged branching scenarios to support role plays and so on for scenario-based trainings such as is required in courses on decision making, then tools with more powerful capabilities will be your best bet. So before you buy any tool, keep in mind the intended use and the nature of the courseware. Your broad instructional design strategies should be supported by the tool.
Multilingual Requirements: In today’s global context, the need for translations is almost a given fact. Check to see if your tool allows this feature easily. Imagine if you had to rollout a process training to 10,000 employees in 13 languages within a month! Some tools make translations easy to handle.
Available Development Time: One of the biggest deciding factors is the development time. If you have very tight time-to-market for your product launches or new feature information say for your sales people, you need to consider rapid authoring tools. Any of the rapid development tools will help you cut down on development time by as much as 40% than it would through traditional programming-based course development. When you have an impending timeline and extensive rollout requirements, rapid authoring tools can help, not just by giving you the functionality to repurpose existing content in the form of PPTs or PDFs but by also helping you develop quick courses using the pre-built functionality available for assessments and content pages.
Thus, don’t be in a hurry to go and buy all tools. A mish-mash of tools could create confusion if your team is not very clear about ideal usage. Remember that even the best of tool is no substitute for good design skills. Allow consulting experts to guide your decision on what tool works best in the immediate and long run, given your unique requirements.