The process of selecting a Learning Management System (LMS) is very much like selecting a family refrigerator. How? Just like how you would decide based on the number of people at home, the frequency of eating out, the kind of food items you usually store and more – before finalizing the model, organizations need to check multiple factors before zeroing in on the LMS that’s just right for them.
Selecting a Learning Management System
- List your requirements
- Build use cases
- Send an RFP
- Ask perspective vendors for sandbox testing
- Have a pilot group for testing
- Decide on a timeframe for implementation
Interestingly, a report by Capterra indicates 53% people only consider features before purchasing it. If you go only by features, you might end up with a flashy LMS with a lot of unnecessary bells and whistles that you may never or only rarely need. And it may mean you spend a lot of money on something that would serve no purpose for your organizational learning needs.
To avoid such situations, here are 6 things you must do before finalizing your organization’s new-age LMS!
6 Things to Do Before Buying an LMS
1. List your Requirements
This is something which is probably non-negotiable. Having clarity on your needs and requirements from the very beginning will help you pinpoint the exact solution that’ll meet your needs.
Also, knowing the requirements and keeping them as the benchmark will prevent you from falling into the trap of buying an LMS that’s full of features that won’t be needed or used – saving you a lot of time and money.
Form an internal team to gather the requirements of your different users – learners, trainers, administrators. This will ensure that you don’t miss out on any.
Here are some important requirements you should consider before purchasing an LMS.
2. Build Use Cases
Apart from the usual functionalities, every LMS comes with its unique strengths. Some are meant for customer training or eCommerce (with in-built billing features); some are designed purely for hosting and managing courses, reporting and compliance; while others focus on course creation, curation, and including content from Subject Matter Experts (SMEs).
In any case, the kind of LMS you want to purchase should be based on fulfilling the actual needs of your end users.
To make that decision easy, you should build use cases and let your vendors hold a use case demonstration after you decide to go for their LMS. These use cases or user scenarios should describe the most crucial functions you expect your LMS to support. Once you have the specific use cases, the LMS vendor will be able to personalize the demonstration – to show how it works to address your specific needs.
Here are a few examples of use cases:
|Coordinate and track classroom training||The vendor should demonstrate how to:|
|Offer different learning programs to newcomers and experienced employees||The vendor should showcase how to create different learning paths for different users/roles.|
3. Send an RFP (Request for Proposal)
Once you gather and prioritize your requirements for a new LMS, it’s time to send a Request for Proposal to prospective LMS vendors. The RFP will lay out the key evaluation criteria that will be used to select the new LMS. It’s important to keep it simple so that it’ll be easy to take an informed decision, otherwise you’ll end up making the process complicated, taking more time of everyone involved.
While RFPs can include many items, it’s important not to miss on these key sections in the RFP:
Company information: Vendors may search online for information on your organization, but you should provide an overview of the company with additional context. For instance:
- Your position in the market, differentiators, market challenges
- Your customers – what the LMS vendor should know about their needs
- Challenges with your existing LMS
Training goals: Describe the goals of your online training programs and your expectations from the LMS in helping you achieve them.
Required functionalities: Be specific on what different users – learners, administrators, training managers, trainers, administrators – need to accomplish with the new LMS. Let the vendor specify if the functionalities are standardized or can be customized.
Integration: Describe the needed integrations, for instance, with webinar platforms, eCommerce, HRIS, registrations systems, and more.
Data migration: Describe the amount of data you need to shift into the new LMS. Will be it from one source? Who will be map the data?
Timeline: Specify when you would like the LMS to be up and running.
4. Ask Prospective Vendors for a Sandbox
An LMS sandbox will offer your organization a testing ground (or a unique domain) to get a hands-on demo to evaluate the actual look and feel (and functionalities) of the LMS before deciding on it.
A sandbox can mean different things for different organizations, for instance:
- “Give me direct access to the LMS, I want to explore it.”
- “I would like to implement a testing plan for our internal technology team.”
- “I am looking for a proof-of-concept.”
However, before you ask a vendor for a sandbox, it’s important to decide why you need the sandbox trial. You should be clear about:
- The functions/features you want to test (Think of the key objectives that the LMS will be addressing.)
- Who will be testing the features (Decide on the users – LMS administrators, IT leads, training managers.)
- How you will decide on success or failure (Make a list and prioritize requirements, and the minimum number of requirements that should be met to mean success.)
5. Have a Pilot Group of all Users for the Test
While the sandbox is restricted only to a small group (those involved in the LMS implementation upfront), pilot testing extends to a more dispersed and diverse group of users. This allows you to get additional feedback on end-user experience and eliminate the risk of failure after going live.
For instance, if the LMS is integrated with different applications such as Microsoft accounts and HRIS, check if users are able to use the Single Sign-On (SSO) to smoothly access the system.
The pilot testing also gets you feedback on the LMS’ ease of use for your learners. Are they able to easily navigate through screens, access assigned courses, or use the collaborative features of the LMS?
In addition, you can analyze the tracking and reporting capabilities of the LMS – progress check, customized metrics evaluation, and report generation,
With such comprehensive testing, your team can establish if the LMS is configured to fit its purpose, offering a high level of user-experience.
6. Decide on a Timeframe for Implementation
The timeframe for LMS implementation varies drastically depending on the complexity of integration and the efficiency of the LMS vendor. Here we are talking about anything from a couple of weeks to several months.
The rapid and straightforward launch of your LMS will also depend on your organization’s internal procedures. When you’re finalizing on LMS vendors, it’s important to agree on the timelines. That’ll give you a fair idea on how prepared they are to meet the deadlines without compromising on the quality of work.
In addition to implementation time, you should also consider the time that will be required for data migration, pilot testing, admin training, debugging, and so on.
Wrapping it Up!
While it is easy to say, “We need an LMS,” we know how hard it is to select the right one. But if you follow these guidelines before you buy an LMS, you’re sure to make the right choice!
And if you feel you’d like to explore more about the LMS, especially the new-age ones, we have a free webinar ‘Introducing the New-age LMS’ that will take you through the typical business challenges a new-age LMS can resolve, how it can help maximize training ROI, why outsourcing admin tasks is the right choice, and so much more!, You should definitely sign up if you have any questions for us to answer!