On the job training is now of key importance for many roles, long gone are the days when employees could go through a single training period and continue to use the same skills, unchanged for the rest of their lives. Often, companies will conduct initial training for new employees, followed by continual training according to the needs of their role. As companies grow, so does the need to ensure that all training is not only carried out, but carried out in a manner which is both effective and cost effective. This is why many companies are now using LMS systems.
What is an LMS not?
Before going on to discuss why companies are using LMSs, it’s worth looking at two alternative solutions with which they are commonly confused.
LMSs are not LMCSs
Learning Management Systems are for the administration of training. Learning Management Content Systems are for the management of educational content. It’s perfectly possible (and far from unusual) for companies to run both systems, but they are for different purposes.
LMSs would be expected to contain such features as course catalogues, registration and payment options and records of achievement. LMCSs would be expected to act as platforms for the design, delivery and storage of tailored online courses.
Neither LMSs nor LMCSs are CMSs
Content Management Systems are simply used to manage content which is shown on a website. This may include learning content. CMSs tend to be tools for webmasters rather than training teams.
In short, therefore, an LMS is simply a way to keep track of user learning rather than a way of managing content per se.
Five points to consider when implementing an LMS
A well-implemented LMS provides an effective one-stop solution for managing an organization’s training and development needs. Here are five golden rules to ensuring that any LMS is up to the task.
1. Liaise with IT every step of the way
By definition, LMSs are electronic systems, meaning they are accessed through computers, which these days can mean anything from traditional desktop PCs to smartphones. This means that input from IT can be invaluable in ensuring that you cover all the relevant bases.
If you’re planning on implementing a simple LMS, which is largely or totally web-based and fully compatible at least with the major browsers, you will keep your life much simpler in many ways. It’s also worth noting that in these days of huge mobility, both of workers and of the devices they use, keeping to basic web interfaces and platform-neutral solutions such as Java can go a long way towards future-proofing any system.
If, however, you plan to implement features which require specific IT platforms, such as a certain version of Windows, then you will need to be very certain that your intended user base will fully support it both now and in the future. If there is any likelihood of your needing to train contractors, particularly remote ones, then this becomes a crucial point. People may download a browser they wouldn’t normally use to be able to access an LMS for a client, but it’s unlikely that they’ll upgrade to a new version of Windows.
You will also need to ensure that your LMS can be accessed securely, at least from within the company network and these days often from outside as well. This may involve the IT having to make changes to existing network settings.
2. Focus on clarity rather than creativity
While an LMS has to look appealing to users, the emphasis should be on the word use. If the actual navigation and controls are difficult to find, or complicated to navigate, then employees will only use the system with great reluctance (if at all).
3. Agree on bandwidth
While LMSs are designed to manage training, rather than to deliver content, most training teams want to engage users from the start and also to give a clear idea of what is and is not involved in optional training courses, particularly if there is a cost involved in delivering them, so that users can make an informed choice about whether or not they are worth attending.
While the use of video has become a popular choice for delivering content of all sorts, particularly given that it is a powerful tool for capturing and holding a viewer’s attention, the use of video places heavy demands on the network infrastructure, which may not go down well with the IT team.
Another point to note is that bandwidth-heavy applications such as video are far from idea for mobile users. While Wi-Fi speeds are increasing, there’s still a long way to go before users can seamlessly stream video from any Wi-Fi network and there are still a number of places where users have to use other data networks, particularly 3/4G. While some of these networks are capable of supporting video, data costs can be significant.
4. Create flexibility in your structure
Managing training is typically a joint responsibility, held by a training team and individual line managers. This means that any effective LMS has to reflect the organization’s hierarchy. It also has to reflect any future changes not only in terms of people changing roles, but in terms of the organization changing structure, for example departments merging and dividing, or being created, or line managers being given responsibility for new headcount (or less headcount).
It may also have to reflect external contracts, both with companies and individuals. If your organization is outsourcing to another company then this may simply be a question of having a named individual confirm the status of their staff training as it relates to their contract with you. If however you are working extensively with individual freelancers, some of whom may be limited companies, then you will need to accommodate their training needs in a similar way to your regular staff.
5. Keep your data clean
This is one of the most important points of managing any database. Do a regular audit to ensure that user data is accurate (i.e. remove duplicates, check contact details if relevant and check job position) and also that records are kept up-to-date.
If the above steps are followed, using an LMS should increase convenience and reduce lost time and confusion for all company employees.
If you would like to learn more about the features of an LMS please take a look at the Traineasy Learning Management System.