If your Learning Management System (LMS) is starting to creak with age and your staff are moaning about it, then it may be time to bid it farewell and get yourself a replacement. But before you go rushing in, wallet open and ready for the next big thing in Learning Management, there are a few things you ought to consider.
Do you really need a new LMS?
Sounds like an obvious question, but it’s worth asking. It’s easy to be dazzled by the range of new technology on offer, all doing super-duper flashy things – but is your current system working just fine for you? If you’ve got an LMS your staff are happy with, one that’s providing for all your training needs and you haven’t identified any new ones – then why go changing? It’s a needless expense for some potential unnecessary bells and whistles you won’t use.
But now let’s assume that your old LMS isn’t fit for purpose – in that case, yes, you do need a new one. But you still need to know what you’ll need your new system to achieve. So it’s time for a needs analysis.
- What’s good and what’s bad about your current system? What are its most obvious areas for improvement?
- What are your business’ learning needs? Take a look at what learning your staff have done in the past. Does it still apply? Are there any gaps that need filling?
- What are the best ways to achieve these learning needs?
- Are your staff comfortable working with new technology? (If not, they might need training. If only you had a new LMS…)
- What functions are imperative in an LMS for your business and what might be ‘nice to have’ but superfluous?
- How will a new LMS fit with the goals of HR, IT and the overall strategic aims of your organisation?
- How fast does your organisation intend to grow in the future?
That’s a lot of information to gather, and you’ll have to consult with both staff and management to collect it all. But once you’ve got all this data, you’ll be in a much stronger position to select the right LMS for you.
The one for you
Now you need to make sure your new system fits your requirements. Shop around – contact vendors, have them come to you to talk about their products. But make sure you’ve narrowed the field first before you invite people willy-nilly – for instance, perhaps you’re an international organisation. Then you might need a product that supports more than one language, which not all LMSs do. Read websites and email vendors with questions. Then, once you’ve got around half a dozen LMSs that sound suitable, you can ask some people in for a chat and a demonstration. To get you started, take a look at the Traineasy LMS which has been designed for business users.
Meeting your requirements
You’re going to need to make sure, once you’ve got some LMS vendors sitting in your comfy office chairs, that their products really do match your requirements. You’ll probably need a few members of staff with you for this, from IT to training administrators to trainers to HR. And you’ll need to establish facts like:
- Does the LMS allow different administrators to configure different areas of the system?
- Is it fully brandable (this is an aspect to e-learning that encourages staff as they see that it’s important to the company)
- Does it offer automatic email reminders and progress tracking?
- Does it support your country’s specific security and accessibility laws?
- Is it easily scalable to match organisation growth?
- Will it integrate easily with any other current systems you currently run?
- Will everyone who needs to use it actually find themselves able to do so?
Those are just a few of the questions you’ll probably need definitive answers to. You’ll almost certainly be able to rattle off plenty more (providing you’ve done all the research required before this step).
Don’t be afraid to ask for a trial version of the software to use on a temporary basis before you commit fully. That, more than anything else, will give you a sense of whether the system is right for you. And make sure to get customer references from each vendor. If they can’t/won’t provide any, back away immediately
The long game
There’s no doubt that selecting the right LMS for you can be a long process – but then, you’re making a big commitment. So take the time to decide on your business needs and how an LMS might fit with them. Talk to your staff, management and other stakeholders. Do your research. Get product demonstrations.
Any reputable company that provides LMS will be only too happy to take your through your options, such as the latest technologies, bespoke LMS, branding options and so on.
Then, and only then, might you be ready to select the system that you’re going to head off into the future with. If you’ve done all the necessary preparations, it’ll be a long and happy marriage. If not, it’s likely to be an expensive mistake leading to a quick divorce.