Now-a-days, product manufacturing organizations, training companies and other firms are looking for online training solutions. These solutions can range from a simple portal where courses can be hosted and with limited tracking and reporting features to complex LMSs that allow training to be managed very effectively and generate very detailed training reports. The main objective is to automate current training methods to save time and effort and get highly accurate training data.
So, if you too are looking for such a solution, the first thing you need to do is to prepare a RFP with all your requirements and send it to various LMS service providers. You can then select the best service provider. You can see quick progress up to this point and everything may go as per schedule.
But, when it comes to actual setup, you may see some delays. All the required features are decided, while preparing the RFP. Then, what could cause delays in setting up the learning management system? What precautions you need to take to avoid them?
Based on my experience in setting up more than 10 LMSs for our customers, I can tell you that delays are primarily caused because of the following reasons.
1. Hosting server
If you decide to host your LMS on the vendor’s server, then it will be the vendor’s responsibility to host the LMS on his server. But, if you want to buy a new server or use your existing server then it may take time to purchase the server or give access to the vendor for installing the learning management system. There will be some delay as all sorts of server and application settings need to be configured.
All settings have to be configured very carefully, without affecting the applications currently installed on the server.
It is better to prepare a list of all required applications, configuration settings and appropriate permissions. You also need to list the steps in the process of installing the LMS. Once this is done, it will be easy to install the LMS. It is advisable that your IT administratorand LMS vendor discuss the activities and roles involved in setting up the LMS, in order to eliminate confusion and have clarity.
2. Look and feel
Most companies get stuck at this stage. Problems of look and feel are not just confined to LMS setup. Often, we face problems while designing online applications and websites. You may want the look and feel should be very user friendly which is good, but have no idea of what to place on the dashboard, and this may take weeks to be finalized. After finalizing the features, it may still take time to collect or create the content.
Regarding the design they expect something great which they cannot express specifically but wanted to make the look and feel like that which confuses the designer and whatever designed by designer may get rejected or lot of modifications to be done.
It is better to first decide what activities your learners perform frequently and keep only features required for those activities on the dashboard and the rest can be added as menu items. Regarding the look and feel of the LMS, you can refer to other similar websites or available themes which match with your ideas. Then, you can share your ideas along with these references. This may help you and the LMS vendor to understand the design expectations.
You can ask the vendor to design a mockup and then you can share your feedback and finalize the design. Other time taking activities are reviews and making changes. Reviews take a long time and resulting work may cause further delays in the project.
You may or may not get the required output in one phase. So, you can go ahead if you get ‘90% satisfaction’. Don’t wait to make it absolutely perfect, as this may not be possible in the initial phase and results in delaying the launch.
3. Customized features
Another important factor which hinders the pace of the LMS setup is customization. In the RFP, you may or may not have provided information about what actually you need in detail. Your expectation about the feature and that of the vendor may not always be the same. You may expect the feature to work precisely or enhance the version of current process whereas the vendor may assume the same feature based on the generic LMS feature which is available in the LMS or based on previous customizations done for other customers.
Every organization may have a unique requirement, and it is better to schedule a meeting between you and the vendor where both the parties can sit together and brainstorm on each customized feature. First, you need to explain the current procedure and what you expect from the LMS. Then, the vendor may suggest what is feasible and what is not. If it is not feasible, then vendor may provide alternatives to meet the main objective of your requirement.
These meetings will really help you to share and understand the features’ feasibility. Ultimately, you can launch the LMS on time as this will avoid confusions and reworks.
Hope these recommendations help you in setting up your new LMS. The time taken to set-up the LMS is about two weeks but the above factors may delay the launch. You need to be very clear as to what you want or learn about the technology available with the vendor in order to meet the main objective.