If you are shopping for an LMS, there are several options available in the market today. In fact, the multitude of options that are available is bound to confuse decision makers. There are LMSs which you can purchase off-the-shelf and get it customized as per your needs. On the other hand, if you have the requisite resources, you could also build an LMS on your own as per the requirements of your organization. However, deciding on what the best option is, can be primarily based on five factors. They are Customizability, Time involved, Cost involves, Scalability and Maintenance.
Customizability: Before you commence your search for an LMS, it is important to assess the requirements of your organization. Off-the-shelf LMS usually need certain customizations to suit the individual needs of the organization. Having knowledge of your requirements, will help you assess the extent to which the LMSs that are available in the market, can cater to your specific requirements. You need to compare the features and customizations that are possible before zeroing in on the best option.
Cost involved: When you build your own LMS, you invest in a team of professionals who do it for you and you become an owner of the solution. However, when you purchase an off-the-shelf LMS, you are paying for the license to use their solution. LMS vendors typically have different subscription plans and you need to consider total costs that are involved taking into the consideration the administration, maintenance and support that are required for the purpose you need to distinguish between the functions that can be managed internally and those the need to be administered though the vendor. This will give you clarity in terms of the costs involved. In additional you also need to factor the costs of future upgrades.
Time involved: Off-the-shelf courses help you be up and running with the system faster than a custom-built solution. It usually takes a long time for an organization to build a learning management system internally. If it is not possible for you to invest that amount of time, finding a suitable off-the shelf solution would be the best option. However, if you have highly skilled and trained manpower who are capable of customizing open source LMSs, you could also consider it as another option.
Adaptability & scalability: You also need to consider the scalability of the LMS to meet future changes in the organization. You might expand your business to newer geographical locations or you might acquire other businesses. Can the LMS be scalable to meet the future changes? Would it be viable in terms of the costs? You will need to evaluate how adaptable the system would be to future changes or requirements.
Maintenance & support: A learning management system is not a product that once purchased is good for life. You need to carefully consider the support that is provided by the vendor who supplies the LMS and make sure that there are no hidden costs involved. You need to consider whether you want to have the LMS hosted or installed based on the infrastructure at your organization and the availability of internal technical support.
Decision makers will need to evaluate specific requirements of their organizations to come to a conclusion about the best solution. If they choose to purchase an LMS they also need to weigh the pros and cons and long term implications of such investments. Open source LMS are growing in popularity for their ease and flexibility as installations, customizations are fairly easy once a team of professionals get a hang of their functionalities. Organizations can consider such options if their requirements needs a lot of customization which may not be met by off-the-shelf LMSs. In such situations, it is best to hire a team of professionals to build or customize an LMS and support your needs at all times on a continuous basis.
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