As anyone with experience in eLearning will tell you, simply paying for course materials will rarely allow you to fully achieve your learning goals. In order to properly manage the implementation and maintenance of your training package, it will also be important to find a well-built learning management system (LMS). This strategic investment can help you to get the most out of your employee training program, but how do you choose just one of the platforms currently available on the LMS market?
An LMS is, in a nutshell, a software application built to document, administer, track, report on and deliver courses or training programs. They are similar to online course libraries, providing companies with far greater control over how their training programs are implemented and maintained. Crucially, they can also provide valuable performance metrics so that courses can be continually reassessed and improved.
The number of available online courses and LMS systems has been steadily growing in recent years, giving companies a variety of options. However, finding the right choice for your business, one that will boost the efficiency of your training courses and provide the best return on your investment, can be a huge chore if you do not know what you are looking for.
Ideally, an LMS will deliver your chosen training solution in an easily accessible format. It will help to boost the value of your training investment, ensuring that employees can be upskilled quickly in a way that both prepares them for their work and sets a high standard for what they can expect from your company.
Most importantly, however, your LMS should suit the specific training requirements of your company and employees. You should have a clear idea of your KPIs, as well as your training goals, so that you can find an offering which fully suits you. For example, the size and function of your chosen LMS will decide the level of maintenance required for your learning program, while the number of users will have a big impact on how much you will need to spend.
What is an LMS used for?
When looking for an LMS, it is important to give yourself a good idea of exactly what tasks your final choice will need to perform day to day. A typical LMS can help you by:
- Collecting employee feedback
- Facilitating compliance training and ensuring compliance
- Enabling internal training
- Tracking user performance
- Boosting policy awareness
Even if you do not know exactly which features to look out for, it will still be crucial for you to understand exactly what you want to achieve with your LMS. The best LMS vendors will get to know your company and its requirements in order to shape their offering, rather than simply trying to sell you everything regardless of how useful or relevant it will be.
At this point, it is worth pointing out that the eLearning industry is undergoing a number of exciting changes. Most importantly, several new eLearning tools are gaining prominence, such as VR, advanced AI and gamification. However, as impressive as these LMS features might sound, they may not all fit the requirements of your company. Getting blinded by technology and gimmicks will be a surefire way to overspend on your new LMS.
With all this in mind, let’s take a look at the most important things you will need to consider in order to choose the best LMS to suit your company.
Choosing the best LMS to suit your business
What are your requirements?
You will need to keep in mind that an LMS is a means to an end, rather than a goal in itself. Just as you do when planning or purchasing eLearning courses, you will need to consider your learning objectives and ROIs, as well as your technological capabilities and access requirements, when choosing an LMS. If an LMS vendor cannot meet these requirements, it will be best for you to look elsewhere.
Technology is a crucial factor here. You will want an LMS which can be incorporated into your current IT infrastructure, rather than an option that will require an expensive overhaul.
Similarly, you will also need to consider the demographical structure of your company; if you have diverse requirements in terms of culture, language and disabilities, you will need a delivery method which can be adapted to suit all relevant employees.
It will also be important to make a succinct list of your learning goals: what are your KPIs? How complex are the products, services and practices that employees will need to become familiar with? How quickly do you need to upskill your employees? Will your training be fully digital, or will it utilize blended learning?
Ideally, you will have all of this information before speaking to any LMS providers. Remember, the best candidates will be able to help you expand your understanding of exactly what you require, before offering an option that will suit you down to the ground. It will also be good practice to ask about each and every feature that vendors put forward, in order to make sure that the benefits correlate with what you are trying to achieve.
Are free demos available?
Even if you know what you are looking for, it will still be a good idea to not take any LMS offerings at face value. Asking for free demos can be a great way to test the usability of an LMS, not just in terms of its user interface but also the various features and add-ons that it pertains to offer.
Keep in mind that users are the most important group when it comes to usability. Simply leaving the demo with your IT or development staff, who will be far more familiar with digital applications and authoring tools, will not give you an accurate picture of how easy an LMS will be to use for the bulk of your workforce.
When testing out an LMS, employees should consider:
- How easy it is to access content
- Whether the LMS can incorporate additional programs, such as Slack
- What additional features it offers, such as AI, learning reminders, forums, community tools and so on
- Whether the option is white-label and if it can be customized to suit your company’s brand
- What kind of support structure is on offer
If you run into any issues, contacting the LMS provider can be a great way to assess their support services. A top-notch provider will address your concerns and show how any problems will be solved. They may even offer to give you access to case studies in order to show how the LMS is utilized by existing users.
What features and services are on offer?
Buzzwords and corporate jargon sadly make up a great deal of the advertising we see in the modern digital age. Terms like ‘internet of things’ and ‘enterprise architecture’ are often thrown around without sufficient explanation, leaving customers confused about exactly how alleged solutions will tackle their problems.
This definitely applies when it comes to discussing LMS features. While various high-tech solutions might sound impressive, they may not suit your unique training requirements. Every feature or service, from microlearning to gamification to virtual reality, is a potential tool, not a mandatory requirement for your LMS.
Remember, if an LMS provider suggests a feature, ask them to explain its value in relation to your own learning goals.
What are your long-term training goals?
Corporate training is a means to an end, and the clearer an idea you have of what your ‘end’ will look like, the easier it will be to choose an appropriate LMS platform.
For example, you may want to consider whether your business will be scaling up in the future. If so, you will want to have a system in place which can accommodate a larger number of employees and upskill them as quickly as possible. Similarly, if you are planning to expand your offering, you may require authoring tools that will enable you to easily post new course content.
Of course, most long-term training goals mainly concern one thing: profit. Keep in mind the economic targets that you are seeking with your new training platform; your LMS vendor should be more than happy to talk you through how they can help you to achieve them.
What are your technical capabilities?
When choosing an LMS, you should consider carefully the strength of your IT infrastructure, as well as the technical proficiency of your staff. Remember, your LMS will need to be maintained and updated as time goes on. Depending on your choice, you may have to upskill your own staff in managing the platform, or else outsource support services to the LMS provider.
Speaking of which, it will also be a good idea to assess the support services of your potential LMS providers. Widely used LMS vendors will likely have plenty of reviews from corporate customers which you can use to gauge their reliability. If little or inadequate support is provided, it could make getting to grips with the LMS far more difficult for your staff.
Next, take some time to consider accessibility. How easy will it be for staff to log on to the LMS? How strong an internet connection will they require? Is the LMS compatible with mobile devices? Is it web-based, or will employees need to upload the software using CDs?
Finally, consider the type of content you want to be able to provide. Most LMS providers can accommodate articles, but what about videos or interactive elements?
How easy will it be to update?
Staff training is an ongoing process; as requirements change, you will likely need to update the content and features available on your LMS in order to keep it relevant.
In most cases, your own internal staff will need to be able to make changes to your training programs. This may require additional training, especially when it comes to open-source LMS options. While these are advertised as cheaper and easier to customize, they are also far more complicated to run in the long term.
What do customers have to say about each available LMS?
This may sound obvious, but given how much of an investment an LMS system will require, it will be well worth taking the time to see what customers have to say about each of your choices. While some reviews may be from educational institutions, most will be corporate customers with goals and concerns similar to your own.
However, you will still need to keep the relative size and industry of each reviewer in mind. Are their requirements in the same ballpark as yours? Remember, companies can vary so much that the perfect LMS solution for one may be the worst choice possible for another.
What LMS does Good e-Learning offer?
Good e-Learning is a value-added reseller for Docebo, one of the world’s most popular LMS platform providers. Using Docebo as a base, along with our unique application programming interface (API), we were able to create a platform that lets us meet the exact requirements of each of our customers: the Learning Ecosystem.
As well as supporting eLearning programs with an excellent user interface and advanced data tracking, the Learning Ecosystem can also enable users to sell Good e-Learning courses, creating a new revenue stream without having to spend a penny. We also offer ongoing support, both for our own customers and their users.
Do you have any questions about how the Learning Ecosystem can benefit you? Are you interested in learning more about selling our courses as a Good e-Learning partner? Contact a member of our team today to find out more!