As you and your team strike out to find the right Learning Management System (LMS), you might wonder where to start your search. How to choose the right LMS software that meets your needs?
Buying and implementing an LMS is a major financial and strategic decision. It is important to conduct an intensive research to ensure you find a platform that will continue to fulfill your needs for next couple of years. While an LMS has become essential to meeting a company’s training goals, finding the best LMS is a costly and time-consuming affair.
Your Learning Management System software will serve as the online portal through which your employees can be trained. However, your task doesn’t end with the purchase of a particular learning management system; you will need to ensure that it works correctly, efficiently and effectively for your trainers and employees. Once in place, you want to get the most use out of your investment as possible, for as long as possible to keep your learning and development (L&D) initiatives strong and thriving.
Why Does Finding the Right LMS for Your Company Take Such a Time Commitment?
In August 2014, Forbes reported Deloitte LLP’s research results indicating that the learning management systems market is indeed red hot with a market of over $2.5 billion, having grown more than 21 percent in 2014. Considering how competitive the learning and development market is — (don’t forget the staggering figures) — there is little surprise that you might need to collect some ideas about how to choose the right LMS for your L&D initiative.
During your search for your learning management system, you will face choices that involve various features you might need, such as:
- the type of interface that works best for instructors and learners
- the ease of deployment for the benefit of your IT team
- an analytics feature to help you monitor your LMS’s health and effectiveness
How to Choose the Right LMS for Your Company?
Gather your troops to start your quest to find the most effective LMS for your company. The best way is to generate an LMS evaluation checklist. However, before that it’s important to create an LMS RFP (Request for Proposal). Here’s how you do it. For this, it’s important to:
#1 Evaluate Your Training Needs
Not all LMS fit your needs. Therefore, it is important to analyze your needs for now and the foreseeable future. It must tie in to your content selections, types of devices through which student employees will access the content, collaborative needs and analytics.
You may discover that each of the systems available in the market hosts a stunning gallery of features. And it does nothing but only compounds your decision-making process. To narrow down the choices, find answers to the following questions:
- Who are our potential LMS users?
- What are you looking to offer your audience?
- How many users in present and in foreseeable future will use the system
- Will you have to buy licenses to be able to use the system?
The answers to these questions will provide you with a solid baseline of criteria. You will be able to rule out some of the LMS software you come across. The next criteria that might help you pare down your list of potential Learning Management System vendors involves pondering the type of content you will use and the way you would want to deliver training.
- Will you deliver live or self-paced training or both?
- What type of content should it support – PDF, audio-video, PPT or all?
- How your employees will access learning material – on desktop computers, tablets, smartphones and/or wearable devices.
With these questions in hand, you might quickly discard some LMS packages that do not fit your organization’s goals.
#2 Features You Need
It’s time you start exploring the features that you feel you will need. Consider these:
- Information Sharing: This feature allows sharing of learning materials, announcements and important deadlines, and any other information you want to share.
- Automated User Functions: As soon as a new employee joins, he/she receives an automatic enrollment alert.
- Discussion Boards and Forums. These features enhance opportunities for open interaction and communication among employees in training and instructors in a safe and open atmosphere. Instructors can post assignments in the forum to benefit everyone. Training participants can then discuss how they will approach the assignment with colleagues, and everyone can ask the instructor questions, streamlining the communication process since everyone can potentially benefit from the teacher’s answers.
- Tests and Assessments: After a training program, you would want to conduct tests to assess learners’ understanding about a subject. The test and assessment feature allows you to do so. This is an important inclusion.
- Grading and Scoring Monitoring. You and your instructors can monitor and track learners’ performance, deciphering between daily assignments, group projects, and quizzes and examinations.
- Enhanced Security Measures. Protect your system with advanced firewalls and authentication steps.
You and your fellow LMS committee members can sort out the features that are essential and ones you can manage without to help you make the best choices to accommodate your budget.
#3 Ask for a Free Trial to Get Started
The best way to learn about any product always involves getting your hands on it and giving it a try. Once you and your committee have done your preliminary research and have chosen a solid prospect, contact the company to try their LMS package without any cost or risk while you become familiar with all the product has to offer your company. You should be able to build your own self-branded e-learning academy, featuring unlimited courses, in minutes.
You know that the initial cost of a Learning Management System can test the boundaries of your budget, but you also have to consider the ongoing costs to your organization’s resources for implementation and ongoing maintenance. If you choose a cloud platform, you save yourself from the hassles of hardware installation and maintenance. The continuous support of a cloud-based LMS leaves your IT team free to monitor your organization’s daily internal system issues.
Also, once the installation is completed, it is important to communicate candidly with your LMS team members as well as the end users since they will take responsibility for the health and daily function of the software and use it respectively.
Therefore, take your time and analyze your needs before you jump on to a decision.