Choosing a Learning Management System: 5 Key Steps
So, you’ve decided you need a new LMS. Either you’re implementing an LMS for the first time or your current LMS is clunky, provides minimal to no customer support, and just isn’t meeting your learning needs. Ultimately you’re looking for an LMS that will enable you to scale your training efforts while ensuring you have the support you need to achieve your learning goals.
Choosing the right LMS is crucial to the success of your eLearning strategy. And it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the hundreds of options out there when searching for a new system.
The selection process may seem overly complicated and stressful, but it doesn’t have to be! With these 5 steps to choosing an LMS, you’ll discover a simple and straightforward technique to help you choose the best LMS for your business needs.
Step 1: Identify your audience
First things first. Whether you’re an LMS newbie or searching for a new LMS platform to replace your existing one, identify exactly what you need from your LMS and who your learning content is aimed towards. This will vary depending on your learner audience and the type of training you wish to deliver.
If you’re training your employees, you’ll need an LMS to formalize learning processes, like employee onboarding, and improve employee retention.
If compliance training is your focus, you’ll need an LMS that makes it easy to achieve, maintain, and track compliance.
Customer training delivered through an LMS optimizes onboarding, increases retention and presents opportunities for upselling thanks to customers who complete training having a more thorough understanding of your product or service.
If you need an LMS for partner training, your priorities will be scaling your partner business while building and protecting your brand.
Once you have identified your training audience, or audiences, and analyzed what you need from your new LMS, it’ll be easier to identify the exact elements you require within your new platform. It’s also important to ask colleagues, stakeholders, and those who will be using the LMS what they require from the system.
Step 2: Focus on important features
Once you’ve analyzed your needs, the next step is to use this to identify the LMS features you need to have versus the LMS features you’d like to have. There are many basic LMS’s out there, but your LMS has to support your “need to have” features to ensure it’s fit for purpose.
Depending on what you want to achieve from your training, the definition of important features can differ from business to business. Some examples of invaluable LMS features include:
- Ease of use – This is the most important feature you should look for in an LMS. A platform that’s easy to use ensures your learners and admins can use the LMS without needing training on how to do so. This makes the process of using the LMS a positive experience, increasing engagement.
- Reporting – One of the best parts of using an LMS is the powerful reporting it provides. LMS reporting makes it easy to accurately track learner progression, course status and completion rate, exam results, etc.
- Integrations – By integrating applications you already use in your organization, you’ll get the most efficiency out of your LMS. LMS integrations can help increase learner and admin engagement, and delivers a better user experience. For example, your LMS can be just one click away for your learners if Single Sign-On (SSO) is integrated via your internal website or intranet.
- SCORM and xAPI compliant – Ensuring your LMS is SCORM and xAPI compliant is a pretty essential feature. If the LMS you’re considering isn’t compliant, it’s likely it’s a very basic system.
- Portals – Learning portals offer your learners a great user experience, but also make it possible to manage multiple training audiences in one system. Additionally, portals allow you to share content across portals to avoid the duplication of work.
While it’s important to establish the features that will help you achieve your learning goals, it’s equally crucial to identify features you don’t need. A feature-rich solution adds additional complexity to each task, and may make your LMS more confusing and cumbersome than necessary.
Step 3: Evaluate each LMS
Now that you’ve identified your training audience and established your need to have LMS features, the selection process should be a bit more manageable.
Start evaluating potential contenders by doing an initial round of high-level research to identify systems that appear to meet both your training audience and features list needs. This will become your LMS longlist. Once compiled you can then evaluate each one individually to rule it in or out of the next stage of selection.
The most valuable way to evaluate your LMS longlist is by having a short 15-minute call with a Business Development Representative for each of the systems you’re considering.
Chatting with the representative will save you time by enabling you to reorganize your list so those platforms that meet your needs best remain at the top of your list, those that meet most but not all of your needs are listed below these, and those that you’ve deemed unsuitable are eliminated.
Consider the table below when evaluating your LMS vendor options. By adhering to each stage, you’ll achieve the best results:
Step 4: Look beyond the LMS
Following step 3, you’re LMS longlist is now a shortlist of your preferred LMS providers. While they may meet your needs and offer all the features you require, step 4 encourages you to look beyond the LMS, and focus on the company behind it.
Go online and research each LMS vendor on your shortlist. Find out as much as you can about each company.
Learn about their existing customers’ experience of using their LMS by reading reviews. Online reviews provide you see the big picture of the ins and out of your potential new LMS platform. When it comes down to it, LMS sales reps can promise you the sun, moon, and earth, but the truth behind these claims lies in independent review sites.
It’s also important to consider what happens once you’ve chosen your LMS and signed on the dotted line. It’s all well and good if an LMS vendor has a great sales pitch, but what about aftercare? When looking beyond the LMS, this is a vital factor to consider.
You need to know that if you’re having a problem with accessing your LMS courses at 6am, somebody is going to be there to help you. You shouldn’t be left waiting. That’s why, here at LearnUpon, we place so much value on sharing a vision of what success looks like for our customers, and providing excellent support around the clock, no matter where our customers are located.
Once you’re satisfied with the company’s reputation, peer reviews, and support services, sign yourself up for a free trial and demo so that you can see the LMS in action and understand how the system will meet your audience and feature requirements. You could also submit support tickets to each vendor during your free trial to compare the responsiveness and attentiveness of each support team.
Step 5: Choosing an LMS
After step 4, you will be able to remove the non-qualifying systems using the above steps, and have settled on the LMS option that satisfies all of your needs best. Sometimes it ends up that you’ve got two or three systems that meet your needs and you need to make a call on which one to choose. If it comes to this we’d suggest taking another look at what their existing customers say about each system and how they support their success.
Share your final decision with your colleagues and all stakeholders, and invite feedback to lend to ensure everyone’s happy with your decision.
If you’re looking to switch LMS providers but are at a loss as to how to do so, our handy “How to Change LMS” guide tells you all you need to know. And if you’re looking for an LMS don’t forget to book your free demo and trial with LearnUpon.