If you have decided to invest in a learning management system (LMS) to better deliver and track corporate training, you need to be aware that not all LMSs are created equally. It is very important to choose the platform that will serve your needs properly and is at the same time easy to maintain and work with.
The success of your learning strategy depends on selecting the right LMS. Since there is a great variety of systems offered on the e-learning market, the selection process may seem daunting, especially if it is the first time you are shopping for an LMS.
One of the easiest ways is to select an e-learning provider that will offer both high-quality courses and the right LMS that goes with them, and thus save your company time and efforts. As often, this is not the case, you will have to decide on the LMS for yourself. To facilitate the process, we offer a few steps that can help you identify the right system that will best serve your company needs and goals.
Identify your learning needs
Your learning needs are the reason for the purchase of an LMS. No matter if you have to replace an obsolete LMS or you are a first-time buyer, you need to be aware of the purpose of the management system in order to select the right one.
It is necessary to identify and evaluate your company learning needs. To do that, you need the help of everyone involved in the process, which includes managers, IT specialists, learning and development staff, as well as the end-users of the learning courses.
There are three important steps that you need to consider in the process:
- Set a clear L&D strategy
You need to have a clear idea of your L&D objectives and aims prior to selecting the tool (the LMS) to achieve them. This includes preparing a sound and detailed strategy about the learning that you need to organize within your company. If you have an older L&D strategy, it needs to be updated to reflect the new realities of the market or the industry. It is necessary to determine the skills and knowledge that are to be acquired through corporate training and to evaluate current learner performance and reliability of the available learning materials.
- Define your target audience
The choice of an efficient LMS will depend on the target audience for the content. Do you need to train employees in order to increase employee engagement and retention? Do you want to harness the power of customer training in order to boost sales or you aim at partner training that will help establish and protect your brand identity? Ideally, the perfect LMS shall allow you to scale up your training options with time and meet all your target audience needs.
- Determine the type of content you need
E-learning provides options for a various types of content formats, and you need to be aware which formats you will need for your corporate training. Are you going to use Flash files, PDFs or PowerPoint presentations? It is essential to know the answer so that you can select an LMS that supports all of the formats.
If you are not sure if the LMS that you are considering can accommodate video or audio files or allows for a blended approach, for example, you can contact the vendor to get the answers.
It is necessary to think of the future content of your corporate training as well and not only of your current needs.
Consider the technical aspect
The LMS you choose should be easily integrated with the software and technologies that your company currently uses. It is necessary to consider any technical limitations prior to purchasing it. Consult your IT team about any technical issues that you are not sure of.
It is also important to consider the way the learners will access the courses. If you are planning to provide multi-device e-learning courses, then you need an LMS that can support that option.
Look for must-have features
LMSs in general offer a great variety of tools and features to facilitate and enhance the overall learning experience. It is essential to know which features are critical for your needs and to ensure they are included in your product of choice. Keep in mind that the more features and add-ons an LMS offers, the higher the price.
The features of the LMS should be in line with your needs and L&D strategy. If you plan to utilize gamification and micro-learning, you will need an LMS that is mobile-friendly. If you will need e-learning localization and translation, then you need a system that supports the option and makes it easier.
You also need to know if the LMS has to be integrated with other systems and software that your company uses, such as HR programs, for example.
Tracking performance, giving feedback, and reporting are essential features and you need to select an LMS that makes it easier to perform these activities.
Make a list of all the must-have features and includes the optional ones that you prefer so that you can narrow your LMS selection.
Research the LMS vendor
Once you have shortlisted the possible LMS for your needs, you need to research the vendors themselves. If possible, read reviews about the vendor and try to determine the average level of user satisfaction.
Be sure to check if customer support is available around the clock to answer any questions or troubleshoot any issues. Also, ask if they include services and terms to replace or upgrade your legacy LMS. Aftercare is as important as the features of the LMS itself.
Ask for a demo version or a free trial
Once you have selected a couple of LMS that meet your criteria, the best way to choose the right one is through first-hand experience. Check if the vendor provides a demo version or a free trial that you can test prior to purchase. If such an option is available (and it usually is with most leading LMS vendors), then ask all interested internal parties to test it – including IT personnel, instructors, employees and anyone who would be using the LMS in one form or another.
The LMS is an important component that can boost the success of your corporate training and, therefore, it is necessary to conduct thorough research prior to purchasing one. Consider all of the aspects of the product and consult all interested parties to guarantee that your choice will serve you and your company properly.