E-Learning Insider Blog

Tips to Buying an LMS


The benefits of using an LMS (Learning Management System) that assists the Safety Manager with accurate and timely training and the ability to seamlessly scale up or down with the company, cannot be underestimated. 

With an LMS, businesses of any size can improve performance through efficient regulatory compliance training and certification, on demand product and customer service training, and reduce accidents and injuries. However, when you are in the market for an LMS, you will be making a long-term commitment to a single system. The last thing you want is to have to migrate to a new LMS in a year or two because not enough thought was put in to the decision making process. In addition to the performance benefits, there are financial rewards that you don't want to lose because you didn't select the system that meets your needs the first time through the selection process.

Selecting an LMS that meets your current needs and has the ability to grow and change with your company for many years to come requires much homework and preparation. These tips should help you to narrow your selection down to a short list of potential vendors.

Identify and Clarify Your Objectives

Determine your learning and development objectives in advance. What are your core learning and development objectives and aims? Which skill sets or information are your learners expecting to take away from your eLearning courses or online training events? Before you even begin to explore your LMS options, you have to have a clear sense of what it is you hope to achieve when utilizing that LMS. This will allow you to choose the LMS that will meet your learning and development needs and, more importantly, the needs of your audience.

The first thing you must do is ask yourself several rudimentary questions that will help you to focus on what your expectations are going to be in implementing an LMS.

  • Are you planning on training in a blended learning experience or a 100% online learning environment?
  • What are your goals with learning and educational programs?
  • How will the LMS support your company’s strategic goals, both long-term and short-term?
  • What processes, functions, and associated people do predict will be affected?
  • Are there specific problems or issues you are trying to solve?
  • Are there other opportunities you perceive that could open by moving towards an online solution?

Answering these questions honestly, thoroughly and with realistic expectations will provide a keystone for all other areas of the vetting process.

Specify and Prioritize Your Needs and Requirements

Prioritizing your requirements by level of importance will allow the LMS vendors to quickly see if they can meet your minimal needs or not. Every business will have their own unique prioritized requirements using many of these listed points.

Requirements may include:

  • Ease of implementation
  • Ease of creating content
  • Ease of delivering content
  • Ease of reporting
  • Depth of security
  • Level of scalability
  • System customization
  • Efficiency and depth of customer support
  • Depth of participant monitoring
  • Functionality of assessing employee performance

Find a happy medium on the number of requirements you focus on. If you have too few, all the vendors you submit your list to will meet your needs. However, if you have too many requirements, you may not be able to find an LMS provider that can fit your criteria.

Pre-Vet and Shortlist Vendors Based on Your Requirements - Does the LMS provider offer the essential features and functions you really need?

Now that you have your prioritized list of requirements, you want to pre-vet your list of prospective vendors by doing some research. You should read the vendors' white papers, view online demos, join webinars, and call customer support. This will reduce your list of vendors before you send out your prioritized requirements. The end result of this will be a shortlist of vendors that you know best match your company’s objectives and requirements. This shortlist should be comprised of only three to five vendors.

Consider Data Integrity and Automation Capabilities of the LMS

With your shortlist in place, this is where you dig deeper in to the more crucial components and features of an LMS with a series of questions designed to give you a clear picture of the reliability and automation of their system.

  • What is the percentage of up-time?
  • Is the security robust and comprehensive?
  • What is the level of redundancy of the backup system?
  • What is the level of automation of basic functions (e.g., reporting, content creation, user authentication)?
  • Are the reporting systems fully customizable?

Once you have your answers, compare the vendors' answers against each other and see if they are in line with industry standards.

Review the Experience and Background of the LMS Vendors

During your selection process, it will be important to inquire of the LMS vendors about their experience. How many customers do they have? How long have they been in business? What are their qualifications? Do they have customers in the same industry as you? Take advantage of the internet to look for positive as well as negative reviews of their overall performance.

What support services are offered with the LMS?

For at least the first year of your new LMS, you will rely heavily on the vendor's customer support service to keep you on track and on time.

  • Do they provide phone, email and ticket based support?
  • Do they offer different levels of support?
  • Will they provide references?
  • Do they track and document support inquiries from beginning to end?
  • Do they monitor their support services for quality?

Answers to these questions as well as checking social media to see if there are negative reviews about a vendor's customer support service should give you an overall view of where the vendor stands on supporting their customers.

Ask for a live demonstration 

Seeing a live demonstration will give you immediate feedback about the features and functions of the system and whether it is a good fit for your company. Because your new LMS is likely to be a significant investment for your company, a demo should be mandatory.

  • Look for ease of use and scalability features.
  • Look for an intuitive and logically flowing user interface.
  • Pay attention to the speed of their system.
  • Look for customization features.

By doing your homework, asking the right questions, and coming up with a short list of viable LMS vendors, you will not only save time and money in selecting and implementing your LMS system, but you will greatly reduce the risk of having to migrate to a new system in the near future. An LMS should be nothing but a benefit to your company, not a hindrance.

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Topics: E-Learning