7 Tips to Choose the Best LMS for Your Organization
In education, the future is about technology and multi devices. As learning leaders, we want to make sure learners are happy with their eLearning experience so that they continue to be motivated and engaged in their learning. We also want to find the best way to support our training requirements, at a lower cost, with a great return on investment. You probably considered to use a new learning management system or to switch for your exciting one. In any case, there are some things you absolutely need to consider to ensure that you choose the best LMS for your organization.
1. Identify your audience
As simple as it sounds, this analysis is critical for your success. You must know that the learner satisfaction is one of the reason your training programs will succeed...or fail! Think about your courses as your product, and about your learners as your customers. What will do you to ensure that they keep being engaged in their learning program?
First, you need to define who your learners will be. You could ask yourself a few questions:
- Will you deliver eLearning to customers, employees, members or partners? For example, if you sell courses to customers, you will need an eCommerce features. If your eLearning is only accessible internally in the LMS, then consider single sign-on and an integration with your third party applications.
- How many licensed users do you need? The number of users could affect the price of your LMS.
- How do they access content? Millennials embrace mobile learning.
- What are your training goals ? Each individual has their own skillset and learning needs, so make sure to identify your learning goals and requirements.
- What are learners' level of experience with eLearning? Learners used to eLearning will need less guidance on the usage of your learning management system.
2. List Key Features
It's not because a feature exists, that you need it. Before choosing a learning management system, think about whether some features are critical or nice to have. The best learning management system will integrate the features you need to be successful.
Establishing this list can be tough. Here is a quick list of the best features every learning management system should have:
- Integration with your HRIS system (like Bamboo HR, Bridge or ), CRM or ERP
- User-friendly interface
- Competency based learning
- Test and assessments options
- Administrative capabilities
- Reporting and Tracking
- Mobile learning
3. Define Technical requirements
Whether you already use an LMS or not, you will need to think about the content you'll deliver to your learners. Will you build it from scratch or use existing material? You need to define any incompatibility that could impact your implementation.
If you use existing material developed with SCORM or TinCan format, then your platform should be compliant with those standards. It will ease your LMS implementation.
4. Establish a budget
In the learning management system environment, there are hundred of providers and different pricing models. But, in many cases, the number of users impacts the price of your software. Other additional costs can be added, such as integration, training, consulting or hosting. Here is the list of the different terms of contracts that you should take a look at in order to establish your budget :
- User terminology: the number of users impacts your LMS pricing. You should take a look at the terminology, either you'll be charged for concurrent users or all users created in the LMS.
- Level of support: Make sure supports fees like implementation fee, consulting fee, support fee are included.
- Number of administrators: The best LMS should allow unlimited administrators, so you do not have to worry about limitations.
- Hosting fees: some companies may charge hosting fee and apply some content limit.
- Contract term and cancellation policy: Even if most of the best LMS providers announce a monthly payment, in fact you often have to commit for one year.
- Integration: if you already use an HRIS, CRM or ERP, you might consider to integrate it with your LMS.
5. Consider the timeframe
LMS vendors could have different processes regarding to the implementation process. Depending on your timeline, you should consider to ask them about their implementation process and timeframe. With LMS moving to SaaS model, you can now find many information online prior to actually contact LMS vendors. What could have taken months now takes only a few weeks. So, you need to expect this level of reactivity from your LMS vendor.
Nevertheless, the process Is quite the same regarding of the decision process:
- Identify your specific needs regarding of your learning objectives and goals. It will help you to determine the scale, form and fit of your LMS.
- Research LMS vendor's requirements and contact the LMS vendors that could be a good fit. From our experience, learning leaders contact 3-4 LMS vendors during this phase.
- Generate a initial RFP based on your initial needs analysis.
- Review the RFP and ask for additional information if needed (based on the terms of contract identified as important for you)
- Choose the best LMS for your organization and start working with your LMS provider to best implement your LMS.
Some LMS providers offer a free trial period. It's a great opportunity to see the learning management system in action and see how user-friendly it is. You should start with this free trial to ensure it's the best lms for your organization.
6. Review the skill level of LMS administrators
Administrators are responsible for the daily administration and growth of your Learning Management System. They should maximize use of the LMS and related processes, and provide other administrators and end-users technical support.
LMS administrators are key individuals in your organization. So you need to identify ant technical challenge you may have. Ask yourself some questions:
- Do administrators possess any enterprise Learning Management Systems administration experience ?
- Will you designate a specific LMS team or will administrators be part of your IT staff?
- What kind of user experience your internal users and team will want?
Depending on the skill level of your administrators, make sure your software is easy enough for them to accomplish all the training requirements.
7. Level of support
Implementing a new LMS in your organization requires time and efforts. There are several steps to follow for a successful LMS implementation. And it requires the involvement of your team and your LMS provider's team. So, you need to make sure that your LMS provider is effective enough to guide you through the implementation. Training is key for your success. Ask LMS vendors a few questions:
- Do you have a dedicated account manager? Your account manager's purpose is to provide the highest level of personal service that meets your exact training needs.
- How many consulting hours are integrated in the package? It could be a few hours per month or per year. We recommend at least 8 hours to be able to help you to successfully implement your training requirements.
On the technical side, review the support process from your LMS vendors. Where do you submit tickets and how are they processed?
Based on the time change, you should also consider to choose an LMS provider that is one the same time zone.
The best learning management system will not be the one from the most popular company, it will be the one who actually can work with you to meet your training requirements. Investing in a learning management system is a few years commitment, so make sure you can establish this long term relationship with your LMS provider.
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Shauna graduated from the University of Toronto in 2002 with a Master of Arts in English before moving home to Calgary to work in the fast-paced, detail-oriented oil and gas industry. Now certified as a technical writer, Shauna is comfortable writing in a variety of styles, and for a variety of audiences.