Depending on the industry you are in, the people within your company will need more or less training and development. Within the financial and pharmaceutical sectors for example, people in key roles will need to stay ahead of compliance requirements to ensure they are sticking to ever changing best practice.
Even roles that would normally be associated with needing mainly key personality traits and the right attitude, as opposed to specialist training – i.e. media sales and customer services for example – may well be stepping stones as part of a career path, and a company may offer every member of staff an Individual Development Plan as a company benefit, to give everybody an equal chance to climb up the ladder, to prove themselves and to better themselves within the company.
Traditional learning is expensive
Traditionally this has meant a lot of expense in administration costs; travel to and from training establishments or loss of staff hours where facilities for training and development were in-house, time spent marking and moderating etc.
Over several decades training and education has been made more efficient with the computer age. Computer-based instruction (CBI), computer-assisted instruction (CAI) and computer-assisted learning (CAL) have been a part of this training revolution bringing drill-and-practice programs, online tutorials and more individualised instruction to the online table.
With time, software evolved which offered added functionality beyond training content, allowing for management and tracking of the progress those using the system and more personalised instruction. These, more holistic systems, were known as integrated learning systems (ILS).
Technology and training
These developments in technology were certainly helping to make training and development a little more automated and efficient but there was still a long way to go. With an ILS an employee could log onto the system, access the modules that they needed to work on and perhaps be told what module was next; however, there were still many elements of the efficiency jigsaw that were missing.
What businesses really needed was a system that could deliver course content, enable employer registration and administration, and training event management, so once logged on staff would know what piece of learning material they would need to tackle and accomplish within what time scale and in what order they were going to get through training tasks.
Furthermore, systems were required that would manage the curriculum or certification so trainees and staff on IDPs would gain accreditation as they went along. In regard to workplace performance management, there was a need for skill gap analysis so weaknesses could be worked on and performance could be improved, and reporting of course so employers could keep tabs on who was doing what, and how members of the team were doing.
Introducing the LMS
As systems improved to incorporate these functions, the emerging systems were rapidly evolving into what are known as Learning Management Systems (LMS). As well as fulfilling all the previously mentioned functions, LMSs incorporate training record management, courseware authoring which enables the easy creation of learning content, resource management and virtual organisations.
An LMS embodies the framework and infrastructure to integrate a whole range of other training and development software technologies together, bringing massive benefits to the organisations using them.
An effective LMS will save your company money on travel and the cost of training venues. Productivity is increased because users are motivated to develop themselves using the LMS and they take less time to do it because they can do it online simply by logging on. Your business can access a wider range of people that you want to manage and develop, and with an LMS you have the capability to build on current training material as new practices and courses become available. By enabling the management and development of training material within the LMS, further savings in time and money are made.
The LMS and productivity
From a productivity point of view, LMS makes performance management a much easier task and this means a workforce that is motivated to succeed with the tools to iron out weakness – a recipe for a healthy, efficient and growing business. Effective performance management involves employee appraisal, competency management, skills-gap analysis, success planning, and multi-rater assessments (360 degree reviews) that generate objective all round feedback about an employee’s performance. More importantly, by making it easier to employ techniques that will identify learning and skills gaps, an LMS will be able to direct staff to the most appropriate training material.
As mentioned earlier, certain industries require that key personnel are up-to-date with professional qualifications and accreditations as part of the Personal Development Plan and a good quality LMS will make it easier to co-ordinate that.
Effective course management
Put briefly, LSM is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting and delivery of e-learning education courses or training programs. While it may facilitate courseware authoring it is not the learning content itself.
LMSs are often confused for Course Management Systems (CMSs) which do have key features that are common to LMS systems, however while LMSs incorporate these features they have a much wider scope.
A high quality, solid LMS should be able to centralise and automate administration, offer self-service and self-guided services to users and make it easy to assemble and deliver learning content rapidly. Ideally it should be on a web-based platform with easy access from any device, supporting portability and standards. By storing content in an editable format, it enables knowledge to reused and/or tweaked according to the individual logging on.
If you want to improve productivity of your team, and you think that some form of personal or professional development program would be useful for the development and profitability of your business, a robust LMS is a wise investment.