What Exactly Should I Be Looking For?
An LMS will be a serious investment for your business, very possibly the kind of investment that you’ll be living with for several years after. As such, you want to make sure that when you choose an LMS, you make the right choice. There are a lot of different providers out there, and you’ll have scoured their feature lists, their brochures and case studies, but ultimately to make an informed choice, it’s helpful to keep in mind some common issues that face LMS users. Here are 5 factors to keep in mind when choosing an LMS:
- Infrastructural compatibility – if you’re using a bespoke LMS with a dedicated server, you need to be sure that you have the IT expertise to administrate it and that the LMS is compatible with it. If you’re using a cloud solution, what browsers are you using in your organisation? Are there any particularly old versions still in common use? If so, is the LMS compatible with them?
- Mobile Optimised – one of the big trends in e-learning over the past couple of years is mobile learning. Software as a service model learning management systems especially really ought to support this. If an LMS you’re considering doesn’t, you need to ask why, exactly. If it’s not part of the LMS structure, then potentially what you have on your hands is a system that’s out-of-date and updated irregularly.
- BYOD – this is very much related to the last two points. BYOD (bring your own device) is more often than not an aspiration of organisations when investing in a learning management system. There are two key considerations involved, however. The first is to know exactly what devices the system will be accessed from. Are there any particularly old smartphones being used by employees? Make a list of models, and ensure they’re compatible. The second consideration is data security. If the technology allows your training material to be accessed from anywhere, you have to ensure there are clear and sensible data security policies in place, and you need to know that the LMS will support them and can work inside them.
- Usability – this might seem self-evident, but it’s an important consideration. How user-friendly is the LMS? How easy to navigate? Bear in mind that employees from throughout your organisation with potentially very different comfort and competency levels using IT systems will all have to use the LMS. When they log in, is it clear how they interact with the software? Does it clearly display the courses to be taken? And quite apart from the user experience of the learners, what about for the administrators? How quickly can a training course be set up, scheduled, and employees enrolled? Is it simple to upload training content? What content formats are compatible? This consideration might seem self-evident, but that’s only because it is so important.
- Reporting structures – I always harp on about reporting and future planning in these blogs, but that’s only because it’s so important. You need to know what training is most effective for your organisation, and ideally to be able to identify why. Do all training programmes work equally well across all sites? If not, why not? You need to be sure that any LMS you choose will be able to supply you with the information you need, in the formats you need it in. There’s no point investing in a learning management system only to find that you’re ending up doing the all the same admin you did before – in many ways the point of an LMS is to automate that work and allow you greater insight and planning.