5 Things To Consider When Choosing An LMS.
An LMS can be a significant investment for a business. You’re putting your companies training (and therefore competency) into the hands of this machine probably for several years to come – no business can afford to make an investment into a learning management system on an annual basis. It takes too much time, too much effort, too much money to get it up and running in your organisation to have to adopt a new one too often. More often, if the decision made was poor, you find the LMS become a dusty unused waste of money as your training gets accomplished ad-hoc by a HR or training person taking the effort onto themselves. As such, making the right choice first time when choosing your LMS is crucial. Here’s 5 crucial things to consider when choosing:
1) Organisational compatibility – will the LMS you’re looking at work for your organisation? There are some very practical things to consider about this – for example, if the LMS is cloud based, does every employee have a laptop/tablet/smartphone that will allow them access? Cloud LMS companies make a big deal of the accessibility of their product (we’re no exception), but if you have employees who aren’t that tech-savvy or interested you need to be aware of that, and you need to be able to accommodate them.
Also, how adaptable is the LMS you’re considering? Are you having it built bespoke? If so, how much extra are you paying for that? If not, is the LMS you’re considering adaptable enough to reflect your business structure (departments, locations, roles, etc). If not, does it really suit your needs? How much compromise are you willing to live with?
Finally, speaking of employees, how many do you have? How many might you potentially have in the future? If you’re using a subscription-based system, will any future expansion vastly increase the cost? If, to avoid this, you’re going to host your own bespoke system, that cost should be factored in too! Lots to consider!
2) Security considerations – again, if you’re considering a cloud system, how does that fit in with your company data security policies? Obviously this is a greater consideration in some sectors than others, but there will be minimum standards imposed by legislation in your jurisdiction, and you have to consider how they’re being met. If, for whatever reason, data security is an absolutely crucial factor for you, perhaps cloud isn’t the way to go. Perhaps hosting your own dedicated system on its own private server is the best option for you. If that’s the case, you obviously need to factor in the costs involved in purchasing and then maintaining your own server for the system.
3) LMS specifications – An obvious one, maybe, but obvious because it’s crucial. What kind of file formats (for any online content) are supported by the system? Will it support your existing training material, or will you need to invest in new content? If you will, can you build it through the LMS or can the provider supply you with new content? If they can, how much will that cost? Also, through what platforms will your employees be accessing the system? Is it compatible with them all?
You should also consider what the nature of your existing training regime requires from an LMS, and how much you’re looking to change it. Do you use predominantly e-learning content, or do you rely more heavily on classroom based training. Is the LMS going to be a genuinely active online training environment, or a scheduling system for your employees? Does it suit the nature of that role?
4) Tracking/reporting – This is a key element of any LMS – it’s almost the primary reason for investing in an LMS, though it rarely comes at the top of a list of any company’s motivations. Essentially, an LMS should allow you significant choice in breaking down employee training results. Regardless of the nature of your company’s training regime, you should be able to follow it in detail based on individual employees, departments, organisational levels/roles.
You could simply purchase a brace of online training content and send it out to your employees piecemeal, but an LMS should allow you to automate that process of scheduling and tracking, letting you know at a glance where training is working effectively and where it’s not. You should be able to schedule new training for employees and roll it out across whole departments if necessary, and then be able to see when it’s completed and what kind of success rates employees. An LMS should become an invaluable tool for future planning in your organisation – it should provide (without a significant investment of time or effort from any administrative team) information that you need to make informed decisions about future business development. Always check the tracking and reporting capabilities of any system you think you might adopt.
5) Expertise – To what extent does an LMS require technical (or other) expertise to set up or operate? Is it immediately usable out of the box by your HR or training person or department? Does it require significant initial set up, and what level of technical expertise would be required to accomplish that? Also, once it’s up and running to what extent is the tracking and reporting automated? Will it require someone administrating it on a daily basis? Again, what level of technical skill will that person require to do that? If it does require any kind of training, who’s going to do that?
These are some of the most basic and most crucial questions to ask within an organisation when considering adopting a new LMS – no LMS will meet your needs wholesale (unless you’re investing to have it built bespoke), but by careful consideration beforehand, you can ensure you’re ready in integrate an LMS into your organisation, and reap the benefits straight away.