Looking for a new LMS can be daunting with so many features and trends that come and go. There isn’t a single perfect LMS because they have all evolved out of different industries and circumstances. Considering the plethora of options out there, the simplest approach to finding the right LMS is to identify the kind of training solution you need and look for the best match based on their strengths and weaknesses.
As a result, we’ve come up with 6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Looking For a New LMS. The questions below will help you put on paper what kind of training solution you need.
#1 What type of content will you publish?
Online training happens in many formats: multimedia, interactive eLearning, scheduled webinars, in-person classes, and more. Your specific training might be better suited to certain mediums—many skills are taught best when shown by video rather than by reading while some skills can only be taught in person. Thinking about your type of content also means thinking about the skills and knowledge you are training.
What is the best medium to train the skills you need to train? Which tools will you use to create eLearning content and is your prospective LMS compatible with those tools? What devices will your audience use to access your training?
Of course, resources are another factor. Not everyone can budget for programs that are entirely multimedia focused or interactive. What medium (or mix of mediums) best fits your budget?
Being able to say that you want a training program that is primarily made of interactive SCORM activities, or videos, or in-person classes will greatly shape how you approach your LMS search.
#2 How will you assess your learners?
Assessment is just as important as training and likely just as specialized to your industry. How do you confirm that learners have what they need to know before you send them off to do their job? Some common ways to find out are online quizzes, manager observational checklists, or surveys.
When assessing knowledge, what kinds of questions or inputs will you be using the most? When should learners be quizzed—immediately after completing the training or some time later? Are there other forms of assessment in your organization—do they need to be part of the LMS?
Clearly stating how you intend to handle assessments means you can look at the capabilities of an LMS and determine if your strategy would run smoothly (or at all) on that platform. Consequently, missing out on this requirement could mean that your LMS won’t track one of its most basic goals: determining whether your training works.
#3 Who is your audience and how are they assigned training content?
There are many different ways that LMS’s assign content to learners which usually stem from the industry they started in. For instance, educational institutions often implement self enrollment while businesses often want to automatically assign content based on roles and departments. Furthermore, within an organization there may be a mix of assignment rules depending on the type of content.
In your ideal workflow, how is the right content assigned to your learners? This can be done automatically based on the learner’s role, assigned over time at certain milestones, or by a manager. Will different types of content require different assignment rules?
Try to outline the rules you need in place to optimally assign content. Then, look for how each LMS aligns with your rule; misaligned rules and functionality can lead to massive overhead work, consistent human error when executing workflows, and disengagement with the platform.
#4 What measures do you need to report on?
Think about the numbers that you will need to analyze whether your training program works. You might start with standard numbers such as completion percentage or average quiz scores. Additionally, certain organizations need to track time spent training while others might need to categorize the type of training being completed.
What is the main indicator that a learner has completed their training in your organization? What do reports do you need to generate on a regular basis? How are reports often broken down (e.g. by department or by content type)?
Reporting tells you the impact of your LMS on your organization but going without it will leave you in the dark. Make sure the key measures you’ve identified are tracked and available in the LMS. Check how easy is it to get these numbers out of the system; reporting should become part of a regular routine.
#5 Who manages accounts
Every LMS needs to create accounts for learners that help track progress, restrict access, and create reports. How those accounts are created will depend on your organization.
Are accounts created by a central admin team? Or by managers at a location or department level? Can learners self register? Or is there an external tool from which to sync learner accounts?
How you handle learner accounts should fit your day-to-day operations and not create a lot of new work. LMS’s can help by providing integrations with existing tools, or distributing the work of managing accounts to the right people.
#6 How much help will you need?
If you started asking yourself these questions and your ideal LMS seemed to become larger and more complex, that might mean you need help with your project. It’s unlikely that any one system will meet your requirements exactly. Therefore, some additional work will be necessary to make your vision happen.
What applicable skills does your team have internally? Based on your answers above, what skills would help make your vision happen? What is your timeline and can it be met with your resources?
There are many services offered by LMS companies or external companies to help fill gaps where needed (e.g. software development, custom configurations, instructional design, and more) to build the best possible product. Include these as part of your plan if needed!
Taking the time to think through the ideal way to deploy your online training program means you will be better prepared to start meeting and evaluating potential LMS solutions in a deliberate way. Answering the questions above simply gives you an idea of the kind of solution you need. You might discover new details along the way to change that plan but it is always best to have an initial plan.