Finding a learning management system “that fits like a glove” requires some strategic research. After all, with so many options on the market it’s easy to end up with software that does not work for your company, but does the trick for others.
To find the ultimate contender among all the LMS vendors, start your selection process by asking the following three questions.
1. What are My Main Reasons for Getting an LMS?
Just like with any other technology adoption, LMS purchases should be backed up by a solid business case and a strong need. It’s never a good idea to buy software just because it’s readily available.
After all, apart from spending cash, you’ll also have to deal with some additional challenges such as on-boarding new users, ensuring proper maintenance, supervising IT implementation and so on.
Hence, consider carefully why are you looking into learning management software and what you expect to gain post-implementation. Some of the common business reasons for getting an LMS include:
- Remote, 24/7 access to content. Web- and cloud-based LMS systems enable round-the-clock access to training content and eLearning programs.
- Streamlined administration: manager your entire course catalogue and all the related activities from one place including enrollments, instructor access, classrooms etc.
- Compliance: LMS systems can help you improve company-wide training delivery regarding certain policies and laws. However, if that’s the case, you may want to choose software that’s compliant with your industry regulations.Automatic re-certification. If you industry requires employees to renew their license or other certificates periodically, an LMS system can help you streamline that process and ensure that everyone’s passing their exams on time.
- Improved employee on-boarding. LMS is an excellent tool for delivering basic training to all new hires and introducing the essential company’s policies.
Formalizing your reasoning for getting an LMS is the first essential step towards selecting the right vendors and narrowing down your choice.
After all, if you just need a new way of delivering compliance training, perhaps you don’t need a robust system with multiple features and ability to host real-time training.
2. Which LMS features are crucial for your needs?
Modern LMS systems come in all shapes and sizes. So the choice can rapidly become overwhelming. And as a result of poor selection process just 39% of users rate their LMS features highly.
But there are several things you can do to mitigate the risks of getting sub-optimal software. First, get back to your goals and jot down the features that are essential for meeting those. Then, consider the additional “good-to-have” functionality.
Below is a quick list of factors that you should definitely take into consideration when shortlisting candidates:
- User-Friendliness: Did you know that 44% of businesses are actively considering to replace their current LMS? Their may reasons for that are lack of good user and administrative experience. A complex LMS with a long learning curve will do more harm than good to your organization. Hence, look into getting an intuitive solution that is easy-to-master for new users.
- Integrations: Ask the IT department to explain you how difficult it would be to integrate the new system with your current setup and whether it can be synced with other tools/platforms such as ERP, CRM, HRIS, compliance platform, workforce management etc.
- Content management process: Specifically, you’ll want to make sure that the software supports the latest international standards for eLearning such SCORM and Tin Can/xAPI; allows seamless uploading of data hosted locally or in the cloud; and comes with an effective learning paths organization process.
Additionally, if you want to get a more robust LMS system to support more advanced training programs, you should also consider if the software supports:
- Blended learning
- Customization and branding
- E-commerce functionality (for those planning to sell eLearning externally).
Finally, don’t forget that the best learning management systems are offering an LMS demo, so you can try a few different options before signing up with a provider.
3. What is the Skills Level of Your Instructors and Admins?
Considering the digital skills level of your teams can help you further narrow down the choice. Obviously, there’s no point in buying a cutting-edge LMS system if your admins are novices.
As well, speak with your IT teams or external consultants to gauge how difficult the implementation/maintenance process would be for the new system. Ideally, you should have one person in-house who fully understands the system and will be able to make fixes whenever anything goes wrong.
The good news is that a lot of learning management systems now come with a some extent of tech support. But getting ahold of it can not always be easy. Plus, not every issue can be solved remotely over the phone. Hence, be sure to choose an LMS system that is appropriate to your company’s overall level of IT maturity.
Lastly, do not overlook your budget requirements. Always go into the research stage with a ballpark number in mind and don’t waste time on testing systems that are clearly out of your price brackets.
Independant inbound marketing consultant with 5+ years in the industry, including coaching and developing e-learning courses. Bylines at the Huffington Post, Tech Cocktail, Hackerspace by Lifehacker among others.