There are many Learning Management Systems (LMS) in the market. They could be high end proprietary LMS or lesser known open source LMS. What is interesting is that, most of the Fortune list companies are NOT going for the top of the breed LMS but are investing in not so well known LMS. This is because while selecting the LMS they are first evaluating their need and then selecting a suitable LMS even though it is not well known. What then are the factors that are propelling them to make such a choice? After they understand the need and find the LMS that suits their need, the three main deciding factors are definitely the cost, level of customer service and new and improved technology.
These are some of the lessons we learnt, working with Fortune clients, that I would like to share in this blog.
|Understand Your Need|
This is the KEY for an effective learning administration solution. Before going into the selection of LMS or comparing the top LMS in the market, it is very important that you understand why you need an LMS for your organization?
- Do you need to manage and administer all classroom training through the LMS? When I say organize, I mean class room training registration, evaluation and certification.
- Are you planning to use LMS for only serving elearning courses? You want to start small and do not want to integrate all classroom administration. Then maybe, you really do not need to invest in an LMS and a learning portal will suffice.
- Do you want to integrate organization wide talent management system, along with administrating training? Do you need to integrate SAP with your LMS?
- Do you want to integrate social media for collaborating learning?
All LMS’s proclaim that they have all these features integrated into their LMS. The key is to understand and prioritize your specific needs so that you will take the right choice.
|Understand Your Organizational Structure|
Every organization has a unique organizational structure and how training is handled. Before we decide the LMS, we need to understand the unique features and how an LMS should be able to cater to the different needs of various departments or subsidiaries. Most of the successful organizations have a very complex structure and it becomes even more difficult if we are talking about global presence.
- Are you planning an LMS for all your subsidiaries as well?
- Are you planning administration to be managed locally, or the administration will be managed only by the corporate HR?
Therefore, it is clear that your requirements need to be understood before making an LMS investment.
|Understand Your Organization Wide Training Plan|
The next most important step is to understand how training is organized and conducted in any organization.
- Is training centralized or decentralized?
- What is the organization vision and strategy as far training their employees is concerned? For example, one of the organizations whom we worked for conducted more than 17,000 classroom, e-learning, and virtual training activities last year. It shows their commitment to training their workforce for better results.
- How are trainings conducted? Are they mostly classroom training followed up with eLearning?
- How is training administered? Do the learners choose their training path? Or are they assigned training based on their skills and competencies?
- Are training courses conducted in multiple languages? Do you want your LMS to be in different language for different location?
- Do you want the LMS to cater to your distributors and resellers also?
|Develop Typical User Case Scenarios for Learner, Trainer and Administration|
Any LMS should NOT be another technical tool and should be easy for learners to use; For example, if you see any Social Media webpage, you will see that it is very good user interface. Therefore, it is very important that we understand our learners and help them use the LMS in a simple and easy way.
We need to develop detailed scenarios for learner, trainers and administrators. This will help us plan the navigation and ease of operation, for all the users of LMS. We will also know what is feasible and what is not, when we evaluate vendors.
- Decide what kind of reports you wish to generate.
- What are your organizational and training unique needs?
- What are your data security needs? For example, student completion certificate for compliance training. This will help organizations comply with FDA and other bodies.
- What is the procedure for assigning course to groups?
- Will the Instructor Led Training be blended with elearning?
|Shortlist LMS Vendors|
Based on your needs, now clearly defined by answering the first three questions, it is time to shortlist the LMS vendors. According to eLearning Guild Report, Open Source LMS like Moodle is more reliable, economical and easy to work with. For the second consecutive year, the eLearning Guild survey, which measures use of over 100 professionally-developed LMS products and excludes in-house created systems, shows that Moodle™ is ranked as the #1 LMS product among eLearning Guild members with over 24% of respondents selecting it as their primary LMS.
That said, we need to have at least 3 shortlisted LMS before we move ahead.
|Ask Vendors for a Demonstration of the Scenarios|
No matter how successful and huge the LMS vendor is, always ask them to demonstrate the scenarios typical to your organization. This will help you decide the right LMS vendor. Once they demonstrate that they meet their needs, select the best vendor based on cost, customer service and technological edge!