Director CommsLearning
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Why your business needs a managed LMS

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21st May 2014
Director CommsLearning
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Paul Service of Comms Learning examines how organisations can gain relatively quick, inexpensive entry into sophisticated learning technology using a managed service.

What is a managed LMS?

A managed LMS is when a third party provides and manages your learning management system for you. Users of managed LMSs fall into one of two categories. Either they don't have an LMS, but understand the benefits and want a pain-free, affordable transition into it. Typically this will be a small-to-medium organisation. Alternatively, they are a small group within a larger business that requires something in addition to the main company system, such as hosting for a specific audience, or to bridge a gap between an old system and a new one.

Customers have their own branded and customised area within the LMS, and their users are uploaded, set up and experiencing training in literally a matter of days. This can be offered at a fixed cost, which includes full support for the individual users and their managers, who need information for reporting to the organisation.

How does it work?

  • Design and set-up: The hosting company works with you to understand your structure and setup requirements. This covers your organisational structure, and specific fields to report on for your audience, defining which features you want turned on as well as custom branding of the site.
  • Roll-out - Communication is important in any training intervention, roll-out of a new LMS is no different. The hosting company should work to ensure users are not only set up correctly first time, but have also bought into the idea of the system.
  • Lifecycle - No LMS is static, there is always a constant set of changes - new users joining the business, people moving teams, staff leaving the business, new courses, changes to allocation, reporting requests. All of these should be be managed day in, day out by experts who are on hand to ensure you get the maximum out of your learning and remain in constant control.

Five reasons why a managed LMS increases business agility

1. Profitable use of time

Getting people to do more in less time is a key component of the agile business, and a Learning Management System is an excellent way of making L&D more time-effective. However, companies are often put off creating an LMS because it can require a complex process of data migration and integration, needing foresight and planning to make it work seamlessly for years to come, thereby gaining a return on the time invested. Having your LMS managed means firstly that this process is shortened, because the hosting company uses their experience and systems to make it seamless. Secondly, it means you spend considerably less time on administration, and thus far more on quality delivery, results - and all-important internal communications. Great communications are a key component of a successful LMS; you will get help to ‘sell the vision’ to your people to ensure they are fully on board and engaged. In particular, the first 90 days of your new LMS are critical and will have an impact well beyond its launch.

2. Fixed cost

Knowing your costs is a key part of business agility. The introduction of any new IT system results in considerable expenditure of Capex and Opex budgets, often with long term commitments and tricky SLAs on both sides. A managed solution means that your business can, for a fixed cost, launch your own LMS with all of the benefits, and little of the pain. You simply add more users when you want to, or reduce them if your business has for example, seasonal peaks and troughs and corresponding staff levels.

3. Keeps you focused on results

Keeping your eyes on the overall prize is vital to business agility. It’s very easy when launching and running your own LMS to get bogged down by the complexities of the platform, when what you should be doing is thinking strategically about what you are looking to achieve through it. After all, it’s just technology and as such just an enabler for your ideas and vision. By taking on Comms Learning’s Managed LMS solution, you keep total control of your learning strategy and leave us to worry about the nitty-gritty of how to deliver it on the platform. You are free to measure the key performance indicators that mean business is improving.

4. Flexes with you

It’s not always clear what you will want from your LMS next quarter, let alone next year, so having a platform and a service that is flexible and responsive is critical to the agile company. We suggest you start with a reduced feature set at launch, to keep users focused on the basics. Then add further features, such as social learning bolt-ons, so they are easily absorbed. Comms Learning will work with you to ensure the feature set works well immediately, and develops to meet your longer term learning strategy.

To start with you may want us to take away all of the pain and offer a fully managed service. As time goes on and the proof of concept stands on its own feet, you may wish to start to take some of those roles back in house. A key Comms Learning benefit is that we not only allow this kind of flex, but support you in this transition.

5. Support when you need it

The agile business needs quick buy-in from team members, and support that can be turned on and off as needed. One of the primary barriers to establishing an LMS is that it falls between two stools; not welcome in IT as it isn’t part of their system, and avoided by HR because of perceived complexity in set-up and support. So with Comms Learning’s managed LMS, it’s relatively easy to get quick buy-in because we use our skill, time and experience to set it up and populate it, leaving IT and HR to focus on their day jobs. User support is relatively light because the system itself is intuitive, but with inevitable staff churn, rotation between teams, new content becoming available or internal structures changing, some support is required.

Who would want a managed LMS?

I think people fall into one of two clear categories for the Managed LMS, either they don't have one and would like a pain-free transition into this, or they are a small group within a larger business that requires hosting for a specific audience, or as was the case with Vodafone to bridge a gap between the old system and the new LMS.

The goal is to offer a simple, fixed cost, stress-free learning management solution. Customers can have their users uploaded, setup and training in literally a matter of days. All for a fixed cost including full support of the users and management reporting for the organisation.

Paul Service is managing director of Comms Learning, a company specialising in digital learning and managed Learning Management Systems (LMS)

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