Not only is the LMS software becoming an essential part of successful business management and efficient working environment, but the number of available LMS software solutions is continuously increasing, as well.
According to eLearning Infographics, learning apps have grown into a preferred way of training workforce, and as they say at Capterra, the final decision when choosing an LMS solution is usually predominantly impacted by the functionality, price, and support that it offers.
In the endless sea of possibilities, cloud-based LMS has become a pretty popular way to go. But – what are the factors that you should pay attention to before making the final decision regarding the LMS, and what does cloud-based LMS offer to its users that other systems don’t?
These are the questions we’re answering in this post.
Read on and find out what business aspects you should thoroughly analyze before implementing a particular LMS in your business environment.
Analysis You Must Perform Before Choosing LMS Software
1- Identify Business Needs
No matter whether you’re introducing LMS for the first time or just changing the existing one, the key to right decision is investigating your business needs.
On the one hand, if you’re getting an LMS software for the first time, you should:
- have in mind your business’ budget and technical possibilities
- identify the critical operational and financial aspects of your business
- realize how the changes in staff skills and knowledge can improve the situation
- introduce an LMS solution that improves human performance in a way that reduces risks in critical areas
On the other hand, if you’ve already used the LMS software and you want to improve your staff experience, you should perform a survey that should include:
- The experience and suggestions of business management members
- The expertise and suggestions of staff members who directly use LMS software to build up their skills and knowledge in given business areas
2- Identify the must-have features of the LMS software
So, you’ve realized why your business needs the LMS software and how it can improve the current business situation. Now, you should make a list of features that you expect from your future LMS to provide a satisfying experience.
When it comes to some essential features that you should base your search on, the experts from the eLearning Industry list out the most important ones for the majority of enterprises. Some of these are:
- Sleek User Interface that will positively affect learners’ efficiency
- Effortless integration with different organizational systems including talent management or HR tools
- Responsive design that can be adjusted for use on multiple devices and different platforms
- The possibility of creating different types of test materials, including quizzes, games, and other interactive content that should evaluate the learners’ progress
- Real-time, accurate and customizable reporting tools that allow easy report creation
- Differentiation among different types of profiles based on role assignments
And while these may be some of the crucial features, to make sure not to skip any important yet more specific LMS functions, you should think about classifying your requirements and desired features into several categories. In other words, you should make the lists of functional, technical, and financial requirements that you expect your LMS to meet.
- The checklist of functional requirements
This checklist should include all the processes that the system has to perform from a learning management perspective. Some of the standard requirements of this type may refer to a large number of administration features, access to its content using different devices, multi-language system, etc.
- The checklist of technical requirements
This checklist should be based on listing the technical specifications that the LMS system should comply with to successfully integrate into existing IT environment of specific business and market. For instance, if you choose an LMS that doesn’t comply with your country or market regulation, you may end up in a problematic situation.
- The checklist of financial requirements
Even though the price of LMS is a crucial financial requirement, you shouldn’t treat it as the only one. You should also think about its cost-effectiveness in the long run, such as when it comes to licensing possibilities, low-cost upgrades, and other ways in which it can pay off.
Finally, to create a requirement list that’s useful and practical, don’t forget to base your requirements on the previously determined staff needs and clearly define priority requirements. This way, you’ll create a list of demands that will fit the expectations of the interviewed staff and, therefore, you’ll be looking for an LMS solution that will undoubtedly provide you with desired features.
3- Choose The Right Type: Cloud-Based SaaS LMS vs. On-Premise LMS
Having in mind that 99% of users think that a well-chosen LMS software positively affects training efficiency, there’s no wonder why choosing the optimal software is a big deal for every company. And if we add the fact that in 2017 more than 87% of LMS solutions users went for a cloud-based LMS, it may be easier for you to make a decision.
However, instead of simply recommending a Cloud-Based SaaS LMS, let us guide you through the main differences between these two options, and figure out together why Cloud solution is becoming more and more popular compared to the on-premise LMS.
On the one hand, as its name says, an on-premise LMS solution represents a product that is hosted locally. This means that you have to buy the software (one-time cost) and install it on a preferred device to access its content. This process sometimes can be more complicated and even require a professional IT expert intervention.
On the other hand, a cloud-based SaaS LMS represents an online solution that you easily download from the seller after you’ve paid the subscription (monthly or annual, depending on the purchase conditions). Once downloaded, all you have to do to access the content is log in to the LMS platform.
In other words, a cloud-based LMS appears to be a more flexible and easily accessible solution since it can be accessed and used without limitations from any mobile device. All you need is the access information such as username and password. And this is especially important if we have in mind that in 2017, 74% of employees that learned using LMS used to use their own devices in this process.
4- Narrow Down The Choices
As you’ve determined your business needs, must-have LMS features, and preferred type of your new LMS solution, you should continue the selection process by eliminating products that don’t meet your expectations and ranking those that seem like potentially good fits.
On the one hand, according to Ilona Hetsevich, the expert in the eLearning field from Joomla LMS, the main reasons why companies give up on specific LMS solutions are the poor administrative interface, shoddy reporting, the lack of integrations, and lack of mobile capabilities.
On the other hand, as Ilona states, the primary purposes of this software are general and certification training, as well as compliance training, onboarding, and customer training. In accordance, when looking for a perfect fit, users tend to rely on the LMS solutions that offer features that are helpful in the listed processes. Some of these features that can help in narrowing down the choices are different assessment tools, SCORM, learning paths, and blended learning.
5- Evaluate The Absolute Value Of Preferred LMS
Once you choose the LMS solution that you find to be better than the others, it still shouldn’t be the end of your analysis. Now that you’ve left with a single solution, you should also check its absolute value – the fact that the chosen software is better than the others doesn’t mean that it will get you extraordinary results. And one of the best ways of getting the clearer image about the quality of an LMS solution is the calculation of its Net Promoter Score.
How to calculate NPS?
Checking the NPS of an LMS may seem complex, but it is based on a single question that previous users have to answer. The usual form of this question is “Would you recommend this LMS to other users?“ and the answers rank from 0 (the lowest grade) to 10 (the highest grade).
Once you’ve got the numbers, you should classify them into promoter spectrum which divides previous users into promoters (grades 9 and 10), passives (7 and 8), and detractors (below 6).
Now that you have them differentiated, you should exclude passives and calculate the share of promoters and detractors, and then, subtract the detractors from promoters. Having the final number, you can conclude if the specific LMS is worth the investment. The higher NPS is, the higher the overall satisfaction of previous buyers is. And if this number is low, you should think again if the tested LMS is the right one for your business.
What else can you do to make sure you’ll purchase the right software?
1. Ask sellers for additional information
In case you don’t have sufficient information to decide on your own, don’t hesitate to reach out to the sellers of the products you’re interested in, and ask them more precise questions that will let you make the right decision. This way, you’ll gain the insight into first-hand information that may be more helpful than the vague facts that you can find online.
Additionally, if they’re not ready to answer your questions, that’s also a hint – you don’t want to put your trust in a product whose sellers and support system don’t seem reliable.
2. Ask for demo/trial versions of products
If you want to go a step further from simply asking for additional information, you can check if the sellers offer trial versions. This way, you can take your time and compare all of the solutions that seem as good fits, investigate the differences among them, and make a final decision based on first-hand insight. And there are some pretty effective ways of evaluating an LMS solution during the trial period.
Christopher Pappas and Panagiotis Zaharias from eLearning Industry recommend:
- Listing the features that are essential for your needs and investigating the way they work
- Creating a group of content developers, administrators, and learners who’ll test if the User Interface fits their skills
- Testing if support service responsiveness and feedback quality meet your expectations
- Checking the interface responsiveness and customization options
And the best way of proving if you are happy with all of the listed aspects of an LMS solution during the trial period is to make a test project that will let you examine all features of the chosen LMS. That way, you’ll be able to scan the entire product and check how it functions without wasting your money if it doesn’t work the way you expected.
The Key To Purchasing Ideal LMS Solution Is Preparing For It.
As you can see, the purchase of an LMS product is not something you should do in a rush. Moreover, it’s a task that should be performed after a close analysis based on the collaboration of all staff members that will be using an LMS once it’s implemented.
These staff members should include:
- the representatives of company management,
- the creators of educational materials and interactive contents,
- administration and IT experts that will be taking care of software in technical terms,
- learners that are going to participate in the learning program actively.
Only when all these parties feel comfortable about working in a selected LMS environment, you should continue investing in it.
Apart from the user aspect, the key to purchasing ideal LMS solution is considering your business needs and goals, as well as numerous technical, functional, and financial factors. So, in order not to regret your purchase, you should make a thorough pre-purchase analysis that will include all of these essential factors.
Accordingly, as you can see, it’s highly essential to take your time for the necessary research and stay focused on what you need. The key to purchasing the right software is in making a well-informed decision based on verifiable facts that you can get by benchmarking different solutions and contacting the LMS sellers in case you need additional information about their products.
About the Author:
Brayn Wills, an instructional designer by profession, loves to write on eLearning development and other new techs on the block. He provides a complete training management solution, currently associated with ProProfs Training Maker, who loves exploring and blogging intensively about innovations in training and learning for millennial and new age corporate sector.