Finding an LMS You’ll Love

5 minutes to read

Did you know that only 8% of people love their current LMS? A 2012 poll by the Brandon Hall Group confirmed just that. By comparison, more than three times that many people said they outright hate their LMS.

Why would this be? What causes some companies to love their eLearning system when so many others can’t stand theirs? And how can you ensure that your organization falls in the “love” group when buying your own learning management system?

Nowadays, you don’t have to fly all of your employees to headquarters for a week-long crash course on your corporate history. You don’t even have to mail them all CDs with recorded tracks of your executive team’s presentations. Instead, employee training can take place online, through web-based software, on an iPad, or even on a smartphone. But if you’re the one charged with
developing a training plan, all that flexibility (not to mention over 300 different LMS programs on the market) can easily leave you feeling lost, confused, and overwhelmed.

Here’s what an LMS can do:

  • Increase efficiency by reducing employee knowledge gaps.
  • Eliminate downtime by allowing more flexibility when scheduling employee training.
  • Improve employee retention because employees typically value more training.
  • Reduce travel costs for live training and cut postage costs for training materials sent via mail.
  • Boost employee productivity due to better training.

Here’s what an LMS can’t do:

  • Create content. Some can provide a platform to help you create courses. Others come with preloaded
    courses, but the software won’t write the content for you.
  • Eliminate the need for instructors. It will, however, reduce the number of instructors you need.
  • Manage and create your learning strategy. An LMS will only highlight your lack of strategy.

There are a handful of applications that complement an eLearning system but don’t necessarily serve the same function. Make sure you don’t mistake these LMS peers for an actual LMS. These applications are typically separate products, but the industry is increasingly overlapping, meaning more functionality from these applications are being included in LMS or vice versa.

25% of companies switch their LMS within 1 year.

Most companies aren’t sure what to look for when shopping for an LMS. That lack of knowledge sets them up for a long-lasting hate of their eLearning system. Fortunately, the next chapter will tell you exactly what to look for and how to anticipate your needs so you don’t end up hating your LMS.

Why do so many companies hate their LMS?

If this isn’t your first LMS purchase, join the club. In a Bersin & Associates survey, one quarter of respondents said they were likely to switch their LMS within one year. Some of the most commonly cited reasons for wanting to replace an LMS include:

  • Inadequate reporting
  • Complicated interface
  • Poor client support
  • Inability to scale
  • Outdated features
  • Excessive fees
  • Lack of integration with existing systems

LMS Course Syllabus and Objectives

  • What types of education do we need? (Instructor-led, online, audio, video?)
  • Who are the audiences for each type?
  • What is the curriculum for each type and audience?
  • What is the delivery method/format for each type and audience?
  • What are the standards and requirements for content developmment?
  • How will we measure success and impact?

The goal is to create a list of 3-5 LMS solutions that you’ll evaluate more closely. But if your requirements are pretty basic, narrowing your results could still leave you with 15, 20, or even more viable options. Alternatively, your needs could be so specific that after filtering the list down, you’re only left with 1 result.

Get buy-In

When you’re demoing and selecting an LMS, make sure to gather answers to the following questions from each involved party:

 
Administrators
(Educators/Training Professionals)
Learners
(Employees, Members, or Clients)
IT Departments
(Techies)
  • How easy is the system to use?
  • How flexible and configurable is the
  • system?
  • How much access is there to data and
  • reporting, and what does it look like?
  • How will the system integrate with other
  • systems and content?
  • How do I create a new training program
  • or course?
  • How do I track the progress of learners?
  • What type of course materials and
  • content can I use/are accepted?

 

 

 

 

  • How easy is the system to use?
  • How easily can I search for and access
  • content?
  • What tech skills are needed to use the
  • system?
  • How do I know which courses are assigned
  • to me?
  • Where do I see the courses I’ve completed?
  • How do I take the test or complete the
  • electronic signature requirement?
  • Do I learn about new courses as they
  • become available?
  • How can I add a course to my learning plan?

 

  • Will the LMS solution be web-based
    or on-premises?
  • Can we handle one
    better than the other?
  • How much customization is needed?
  • How do we integrate content from
    other systems?
  • How do we rollover from our previous
    training system?
  • How much maintenance and ongoing
    administration will be necessary?

 

Now that you have your handful of options, it’s time for the fun part– demos!

Software demonstrations are the best way to determine which eLearning software fits your needs. Some of these demos happen one-on-one with a sales person (like office hours with your professor), while others are webinars with groups of potential buyers (like a big lecture class). Either way, the demos and conversations you’ll have with each software company should answer the following questions about your remaining LMS contenders:

  • Does the solution satisfy your most important requirements?
  • Does the vendor offer excellent support and speedy service?
  • How user-friendly is the solution?
  • How compelling are the vendor’s testimonials/reviews?
  • How easy is the implementation?
  • Does the solution require changes to your business processes?
  • Does the vendor have customers similar to you?
  • How customizable is the solution?
  • How innovative is the solution compared to others on the market?
  • Does the solution satisfy some of your less important, “nice to have”
    requirements?

Sources

  • Gyrus Systems http://www.authorstream.com/Presentation/gyrussystems-1644486-lms-switching-guide/
  • Brandon Hall Group http://brandonhall.com/blogs/learning/no-lms-love-lost/
  • Upside Learning Blog http://www.upsidelearning.com/blog/index.php/2012/09/18/4-key-emerging-trends-in-lms/
  • Bersin & Associates http://marketing.bersin.com/rs/bersin/images/092712_MB_LMSWhatWorksBrief_final.pdf
  • E-Learning 24/7 Blog http://elearninfo247.com/2012/11/27/e-learning-takeaways/
  • U.S. Office of Personnel Management http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/training-and-development/reference-materials/procuring_lms.pdf
  • Training Force Blog http://trainingforce.com/things-a-learning-management-system-doesnt-do
  • Capterra https://cdn0.capterra-static.com/infographics/ebooks/capterra-lms-ebook.pdf

 


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