Choosing the Right LMS for Your Company
This is one of the crucial stage for eLearning professionals when selecting the suitable LMS. But the question is how many LMS’s are there? How can you find them? How do you pick one? Which LMS do you use and why? Which one is the best LMS system?
Purchasing an Employee Learning Management System is a big decision for any organization. The choice, if made properly, can shape employee training programs, customer service, B2B interactions, and even your company culture, making them more efficient. It’s important to research your own organization and potential LMS companies to find the best learning management solution for your business.
The first step is knowing your organization. An employee learning management system can be used for a variety of different tasks—internal training, performance tracking, compliancy maintenance, policy awareness, and employee feedback. Ask the executive team what requirements they might need from the solution. Do you need it just for training? Could it be used for new employee orientations, site-specific safety training, internal policy management and signoff? Identify what level of maintenance and internal staff will be required to implement and maintain the service. Some systems are very easy to setup while others can require months to properly set up. Ensure you are aware of which one you are getting. The number of system users you require may also affect licensing costs, and that’s just one way the size and scope of your organization will affect your final selection.
One of the biggest factors that will influence your LMS choice is content. Some courses use video, others use written material, but even things like file format (Flash vs. PDF, PowerPoint vs. Spreadsheet) can make a difference in what systems are a potential fit. Does the system accept SCORM courses?If so, what versions? Will it work on tablets and mobile devices? Does it play HTML5 versions of SCORM?
Some organizations already have training programs and background material: others need to start online course development from scratch. Be sure to ask before-hand what sort of authoring tools the LMS is compatible with, as it is recommended that you find a system that works well with all the leading tools like Captivate, Lectora, Articulate and Storyline. Whether these tasks are performed by you or your service provider can affect both the price of your LMS and the amount of technical support and staff required for implementation and maintenance.
Training management software may often be advertised as user-friendly, but each system has technical requirements that invariably affect deployment. Check to see if the system offers an API (automated program interface) or SSO (Single Sign On) that complies with your existing systems. These communication protocols affect the exchange of information between your LMS and other programs,like payroll.
The final step in assessment is implementation and maintenance. Permissions, level of maintenance, and ability to make changes on-the-fly can all affect the cost of LMS implementation and the staff resources required to administer online learning courses.
Some systems, like open-source LMSs, may seem attractive because of low costs and easy customization but can be more complicated to use than software services that make support staff available. If you’re frequently trouble-shooting or making system adjustments, the money saved by using a free service can quickly be lost in maintenance hours. Commercial training management software may be pricier than open-source systems, but are turn-key ready and frequently have dedicated staff to walk your administrators through maintenance and implementation issues—well worth the expenses. Perhaps your organization’s learning requirements are seasonally variable? In this case, it may be best to choose a Software-As-A-Service LMS. These services allow you to define your service periods and store information on external servers, giving you the external staff and storage resources to manage any required changes to course delivery. Many of the best LMSs provide free trial periods and open contracts to allow you to confirm that they work as advertised, without locking you into heavy service fees.
Knowing your system requirements, content and staff requirements will play an important factor in streamlining LMS selection. Knowing your organization and system requirements will knock off most of the hard work that goes into creating a request for proposal. This means your organization can more quickly begin the demo process and start sampling the many LMSs out there without the worry of encountering technical snags late in the selection process.