By Lisa Gillis, Chief Learning Officer at Cimatri
While describing a digital transformation project to a group recently, I stated that the core of the system would be an LMS. Moving on with my presentation, I was interrupted by two hands that shot in the air begging to be recognized for a pressing questions. “An LMS? What is that and why do we need one? How do I choose an LMS?” Great questions and one you might be asking now.
An “LMS” stands for Learning Management System. It’s the engine that runs e-learning, resource and community interaction programs. Just like a car has different options and accessories, LMS’s vary as well. I can honestly say there is no such thing as “one size fits all.” When selecting a learning management system (LMS), it’s a highly subjective process to determine what elements will meet the needs of the end consumer. Yet, having recently gone through an exhaustive process of evaluation of over 100 different LMS’s to select the right one for an organization with the potential of millions of users, here are some takeaways on what to look for to save yourself valuable time.
Business Case: The first step is developing a business case specific to your needs. How will you be using it? What level of support do you need? Who are your users in the system? What is your price point? These are just a few of the necessary questions to be answered before creating a solutions matrix.
Compatibility: This goes without saying but whatever LMS you select absolutely needs to be compatible across different devices and systems. This includes Mac, PC, mobile, tablet, Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc. Be sure to note any caps on the number of participants, as you need an LMS that will grow with you over time. A good LMS should also offer 24/7 support plus backups as part of the package, so be sure to ask for this before signing up.
User Friendly: In order for your community to adopt (and love using) your LMS, it must be easily accessible and user-friendly. The system’s interface should also be easy to navigate for end-users, allowing them to instantly sign on and begin learning or interacting with others in the community. Some LMS’s offer a customizable interface that allows you to align with your organization’s branding and marketing.
Pricing: There are hundreds of different LMS options available today at varying price points. You can easily eliminate those platforms outside your price range by establishing your budget from the outset. Some companies charge a base price, while others charge a monthly fee for individual users. Plus training. Plus branding. Plus support. Plus different options. Be sure to know and ask the right questions so that there are no surprises in the final price. Note: your budget should include the overall cost and maintenance, not just the monthly/annual and start-up fees.
Recommendations: We live in a day and age where user reviews are plentiful so take advantage of what others in your industry have shared in online forums like G2 Crowd, PCMag and Capterra. Review sites allow you to compare everything from price, feature sets, compliance and security to training and support.
As a final step, convene a group of decision makers from different departments who will be affected by the implementation of your LMS. Ask the top 3 vendors for a free trial period or a live demonstration with your group to aid in making a final purchasing decision that will fit your organization’s needs.
Hopefully, I have inspired you to take a closer look at the learning management system you’re currently using or looking to implement in your organization. If you’d like to drop me a line to share your thoughts, leave a comment below.