Most organizations are already deploying some kind of technology to educate or train their employees. But the fact remains that most users hate their LMS and want to ditch it for good. The story doesn’t end here. There are a couple of other reasons that show that organizations as a whole are not ready to deploy technology. They may not understand the scope of an LMS or haven’t really worked to identify their exact requirements. Understanding their own learning management system readiness is the first step towards choosing the right learning management system and then implementing it successfully.
6 Steps to Check Learning Management System Readiness of Your Company
Whether you want to upgrade or replace your existing LMS or buy it for the first time, you ought to ask yourself these six questions to understand your readiness to procure an elearning software:
#1 Management Engagement
As with any corporate endeavor, if management isn’t fully sure of their exact requirements, success is unlikely. Not only does an LMS represent an upfront investment, it also requires ongoing time investment and complete clarity on objectives to achieve to ensure success. It’s of utmost importance to create management engagement by working together as a leadership team to set LMS objectives. At this stage, it’s vital to find answers to these questions:
- What needs do you hope to meet with an LMS system?
- What problems might an LMS system solve?
- What business objectives are supported by learning management?
- What are you willing to spend on a system?
- What can you afford to spend on a system?
Answering these and similar questions ensure that leadership has a clear, shared vision. When everyone is on the same page – and is abiding by a realistic budget that is enough to fund a functional LMS – the outcome is more likely to meet everyone’s expectations.
#2 Strategy Alignment
Learning management system readiness involves considering how you plan to use an LMS system, particularly with regard to business goals. Have you created a narrative that ties the purchase of an LMS system to corporate strategy? Sure, an LMS would help increase staff competencies, but how does that create ROI for the enterprise? Applying strategic – and financial – metrics to a potential LMS purchase helps you choose the right program. Ask yourself if:
- Your L&D strategy is aligned to business goals?
- You have drawn the relationship between staff competence and ROI?
- Either of your L&D strategy or business goal needs to be reworked?
If the answers to these questions are not clear, it’s recommended to prepare a formal document listing both needs and high-level wants for a new LMS system, including
- The type of support the organization requires
- How LMS should integrate with existing human resource and knowledge management software
- how skills and competencies will be evaluated and managed
- how online communication and collaboration will occur
Include this LMS readiness checklist in your formal document, and get feedback on that list from across the organization. If a procurement team uses that list when selecting an LMS solution, they are more likely to meet enterprise-wide needs and less likely to be blamed for picking a silo-ed or inappropriate solution.
#3 Implementation Plan
LMS readiness means that you understand the scope of the system and how you will bring it to users in the organization. A lot depends on your actual present needs and plans in near future. An organization is ready to procure and implement a system, if it:
- is clear on whether the learning will be delivered live or self-paced or both
- will utilize a mobile learning platform and/or a native mobile app
- has decided the roles of all those involved in LMS procurement
- has decided how learning will be handled in the new system
- knows who will be part of the implementation team
- has taken into account the industry have regulations about the management of skills and competencies
Even before you choose an LMS program, your technical and leadership departments should have a fundamental idea of how much work will be required for implementation and what type of functionality you want to implement. You also need to understand how much of the implementation work you want to do in-house and how much you want to rely on a vendor.
#4 Enterprise-Wide Learning Culture
Adoption at all levels is essential to creating ROI for your learning management system. If staff doesn’t engage with the new tool, then you’ve wasted a lot of time, energy and funds. Before purchasing an LMS solution and beginning technical implementation, understand how leaders and critical staff can promote online learning across the organization.
Changes can be scary. The important questions here are:
- How would you promote online learning across organization?
- Do you have a strategy in place for baby boomers?
- How would you manage change?
Consider creating change evangelists among staff at all levels. These individuals are introduced to the new system early, so they can share about it in a positive light and help others use the new tool as it is implemented across the organization. Even before you purchase a system, speak with subject matter experts in a variety of departments to determine needs and feelings about an LMS. Team members that are involved in selecting and implementing a new solution – even in very small ways – are more likely to adopt it fully.
#5 Learning and Development Resources
Always be cognizant that new software can impact whether you have an appropriate number of relevant human resources – and that change can go in either direction. A new LMS might mean you have too many people managing knowledge processes, because the new system introduces efficiencies. In other situations, particularly when organizations don’t already have a fairly robust learning and development department, a new system means additional staff to manage growing training and competency courses.
The questions that you need to ask at this point are:
- Do you have dedicated learning and development staff, and what are their functions?
- Do you have enough learning and development resources to support an LMS program, and if you bring in new resources, how will they interact with current resources across the organization?
- How learning and development management will interact with production or line management.
- Where do training and development duties end and daily supervision begin?
- How can learning and development managers support production managers, helping them create staff with the competencies required to meet business goals?
The human resource foundation – from staff members to management protocols – must be in place or planned before you can select an applicable LMS.
#6 Understand the Technology
Finally, before you make a decision about purchasing a learning management system, ensure that your technical and leadership staff – as well as any procurement or software selection team – truly understand the technology and the requirements at play. If this is the first time your organization is implementing an LMS, take time to read case studies about various solutions and how they interact with different environments and needs.
Taking the Next Step Toward LMS Procurement
Once you follow the steps to ensure you are ready to procure a new LMS product, take time to fully evaluate a product before committing to it. Ask potential vendors for a demonstration of the product. Procurement teams should view demonstrations with a requirements checklist at hand. Teams who work together to score and prioritize potential products usually have the best chance at selecting a product that best meets organizational needs.
Remember that you can ask vendors about custom functionality; simply because a vendor’s demo doesn’t include something in your requirements list doesn’t mean they won’t provide it. LMS providers often work with organizations to develop unique programming, new course content, and access and workflow that works with existing enterprise software. Working with a vendor to ensure you are ready for implementation and that the LMS will meet your needs is the best way to maximize return on your learning and development investment.