The Case for Vendor Authorized ILT Training

Myles Brown | Friday, January 10, 2020

The Case for Vendor Authorized ILT Training

These days, there are many options vying for the training budgets of organizations. Some compete on cost, others on quality, while others still on flexibility. There are a few ways to categorize the training options: 

  1. Vendor authorized vs grey market
  2. Instructor-led vs on-demand
  3. Virtual vs in-person
  4. Public vs private

We will take a look at each categorization individually, but first let’s talk about the value of training in general. There have been many studies conducted over the years that highlight the benefits of training and, for that matter, certification, on work productivity.

One of the main groups working in this area is IDC, led by their Program VP of Business Consulting and Education, Cushing Anderson. In a recent guest blog for VMware Education Services, he wrote about a survey that the IDC conducted of 500 IT managers about their recent technology projects. They found that “a team with average skill (5 on a normalized scale of 1-10), can successfully meet about half of the business and project objectives for a technology implementation project. When a team is slightly better than average, it may achieve 80% of its business and project objectives.” Furthermore, they found that “without ongoing training, an IT organization can lose 60% of its capability in just three years because of staff changes, technology and process changes, and insufficient refresher training. Ongoing training of as little as 10 hours per year, per employee, can help IT professionals stay current with their responsibilities and can help improve IT performance by 30-50%.”

In another IDC report, their research linked industry certification to increased productivity and efficiency.

Certification: Impact on Performance 

Certified IT ProfessionalsCompared to those Without Certification
Productivity90% more productive
Efficiency60% more efficient 
Productivity with core IT activities17% more productive
Reduction of unplanned server downtime56% reduction

IDC: The Five Value Propositions of IT Certification for the Enterprise, 2018

Vendor Authorized vs Grey Market Training

Major software and hardware vendors often have a team of curriculum developers who build out training courses on their products. These teams are usually comprised of individuals who are well-versed in the ways of pedagogy who work closely with the internal subject matter experts to build courses that are correct and up to date. While the quality of the course offerings can vary from one vendor to another, these courses are usually considered the gold standard and are priced accordingly. This, of course, leads to other training organizations looking to build much cheaper alternatives. That is the main selling point of grey market training - it’s cheaper. But the quality and refresh rates will greatly vary from one vendor to another. Sometimes the grey market vendors are more interested in simply “teaching the test” and create curriculum that is so focused on certification test preparation that they lose sight of the fact that training is also supposed to make people better at their job.

Instructor-led Training (ILT) vs On-demand

Traditional training mirrors what humanity has done for thousands of years: a teacher presents in front of a group of students, describing a complex topic, allowing for follow-up questions to delve into further topics of interest, or simply for clarification. This is familiar, it works pretty well, but it is not perfect. First, it may require all the students to be in one place, although virtual ILT addresses this concern. The bigger problem is that it requires all the students to be engaged at the same time and work at the same pace. These are the two benefits of on-demand training: students can watch videos and work on labs at their own pace, when it is convenient for them to do so. So, we have a clear winner, right? Not so fast.

The downside to on-demand training is that it is asynchronous. The instructor may have recorded the videos months or even years ago, and they are not available for follow-up questions. The best-of-breed on-demand trainings will offer refreshed videos on a timely basis, whenever new features or updates in the product are made, but on this point, the results vary greatly. To address the student questions issue, some on-demand systems offer web forums, where the questions can be crowd-sourced from a community. It’s hard to judge the level of expertise of those answering. Again, the best-of-breed on-demand programs will offer something like “Instructor Office Hours” or even have a pool of instructors who are motivated (i.e. compensated) to answer emailed questions in a timely fashion.

 The biggest problem with on-demand training is that of motivation. It requires the learner to be diligent in starting and participating all the way through a course. When a student is taking an ILT course, they often leave work to go to a training center, set their OOO on their email, and aren’t expected to be doing their regular job for the duration of the class. This means that they have nothing to do but learn the topic at hand. With on-demand training, it’s often the lowest priority in a day full of fighting fires at work and maybe doesn’t get completed. In fact, there is a lot of research into the completion rates of massive open online courses (MOOC) like Coursera, edX, etc. In a recent article in Science magazine, Justin Reich, the director of MIT’s Teaching Systems Lab performed some analysis on 12.67 million course registrations by 5.63 million learners for MIT and Harvard courses taught on edX. He found that the traditional knock against MOOCs, that people don’t complete courses, remained true through 2018, even as edX had taken many steps to try to increase completion rates. Only 3.13% of all students completed their courses in 2017-2018. The completion rate was much higher for students who actually paid for “Verified Courses” but was still only 46%. This number pales compared to the completion rate for ILT courses, which is generally thought to be in the 90-95% range.

In reality, there are a lot of other option besides ILT (in-person or virtual) and on-demand. These days, we see webinars (live or pre-recorded), podcasts, mobile delivery, and more. But when it comes to popularity, the classroom is still king. In Brandon Hall Group’s study Training Budget Benchmarks and Optimizations for 2017,  they found in-person ILT to be the most prevalent and, in terms of quality, ranked only behind coaching/mentoring. The results are in this chart:

Training Modalities: Use vs Effectiveness (Average Score 5 Point Scale)

In-person instructor led classroom 3.43.79
eLearning modules2.783.23
Informal peer-to-peer learning2.593.56
On-the-job exercises2.783.71
Paper-based performance report2.532.85
Online performance report2.433.23
Conference calls2.282.53
Video learning2.172.95
Video synchronous classrooms
Industry conference/events2.072.82
Pre-recorded instructor led training2.032.56
Recorded webinars2.012.51
Published books or research1.832.37
Social/collaboration tools1.832.98
Mobile learning delivery1.702.86
Online academic institutions1.692.70
In person academic solutions1.682.95
Games/simulations (in person)1.833.0
Games/simulations (online)1.482.83

Source: 2016 Brandon Hall Group Training Benchmarking Study (n=316)

Virtual vs In-person Training

Most people will agree that the best learning experience is in-person training. But this can often mean expensive travel to major cities for public classes, or a minimum number of students to make bringing an instructor onsite financially viable. So virtual training has steadily grown in popularity as the technology makes it increasingly better. The early days of virtual training were plagued with problems due to bad internet connections, lack of video, and unfamiliarity with the tools. WebEx dominated this landscape as the tool of choice when it came out, but now there are many alternatives. Over the past dozen years, ExitCertified has built their Live Virtual platform to take advantage of the best technologies, as well as procedures and processes to make its virtual training the very next best thing to in-person. This involves two-way audio and video, with the learner video usage being highly encouraged. We have found this to be the best way to replicate the in-person experience. For more on Live Virtual training, check this out.

Public vs Private Training

If you only have one or a few students who need a class, it usually makes sense to enter them in a public training class. It may require travel for an in-person class, but virtual training can cut that out. The economics of the training business usually dictate that at some point (usually around 8 or more students), it can be cheaper to have the instructor come to you instead. Or if you have a concentration of employees in one city and a few others that are spread around, you can have a hybrid class where some are in a room with the instructor and others join virtually. Other than financial reasons, the benefit of this kind of dedicated group training is that you can work with the training provider ahead of time to customize the class in some way. For example, a five-day class might be able to be cut down to a three-day class if there are a number of topics in the canned class in which your organization is definitely not interested. This kind of customization isn’t really possible with classes on a public schedule.


Whether you’re looking for public or private training, if quality is your highest priority, your best bet is vendor authorized ILT. In-person might be best, but increasingly people are choosing virtual training and ExitCertified’s Live Virtual is a great choice. To accommodate all learning styles, geographies, and timelines, a hybrid approach is best. If you can bundle ILT training with an on-demand version of the class to refer to later, you can really increase learner skill retention. Some of ExitCertified’s largest clients use low-cost on-demand options for entry-level offerings, and then use private onsite group training for more complex or advanced topics. A hybrid of in-person and virtual training can bring a geographically dispersed workforce together for custom training that feels like a traditional classroom. 

If you’re interested in any of these options, ExitCertified has authorized courses from over 25 major vendors and can accommodate all your needs.