Work, Learn, Play

Questions to ask before switching to a new LMS

Pushing to change your LMS? Look before you leap. Here’s an easy guide.

Today, organizations frequently manage their corporate training and compliance programs through a learning management system (LMS). But as LMS technology grows, many early adopters are growing unhappy with the challenges their legacy systems present.

Older systems are often difficult to use and offer a poor user experience, inability to integrate with multiple systems, inadequate compliance tracking and reporting, few mobile features and little customer support. If you’re thinking of changing your LMS, carry out some due diligence – take time to review the best way to meet your learning strategy and drive business impact before comparing options. For companies in highly regulated industries, the right LMS can also be the difference between compliance and audit failure.

Implementing a new LMS can be a major challenge, but good planning will keep your project focused, on time, and within budget – and you’ll improve your corporate training program substantially.

Here are some questions you may encounter as you shop around for a new LMS:

How do I start to plan a new LMS?

Loose timelines lead to missed milestones. Write down realistic expectations of your new system, budget, timelines and checkpoints. A lack of written plans can lead to frustration and cost you time and money.

For more on LMS implementation, don’t miss our blog ‘8 best practices for a successful LMS implementation’.

Develop a business case for investing in a learning management system

An LMS implementation is most successful when it is aligned with the organization’s strategy. Your chosen LMS should contribute to the long-term success of the organization, not just address short-term needs. To ensure strategic alignment you should develop a business case for investing in a learning management system:

If you can’t answer these questions then you need to revisit your business case.

Have we defined the business requirements?

Focus on your organization’s needs. The main reason that organizations upgrade to a new LMS is to gain a more modern user interface (UI), so this will likely be first on your list. If your interface is easy to use and attractive, your learners will be much more likely to engage with your learning. Research by Brandon Hall Group has found that 88% of organizations looking to switch their LMS were doing so to improve the user experience (UX).

What features should my new LMS include?

1. Mobile
With research showing that the vast majority of Americans own cellphones, mobile learning will have a huge impact on the success of your learning program. A third of the global workforce is already mobile, so highly effective solutions, such as the ones NetDimensions offers, should come with comprehensive mobile learning.

Mobile also gives learners the ability to take courses offline or conduct on-the-job assessments with a mobile device of their choice, another huge advantage of platforms with mobile options.

2. Social learning and informal learning
Social features such as forums are important for an LMS. It’s a place where managers and employees can share ideas and contribute to the development of best practices. Make sure you can easily embed Widgets (for example internal forums, Twitter feeds and YouTube videos) into your homepage so they are easily accessible for all users.

3. Compliance/auditing
Research by Brandon Hall Group has found that 27.7% of organizations are still managing compliance manually and 37.3% say the current technology systems are inadequate for compliance tracking. A robust LMS will help you manage compliance training effectively.

4. Reporting
Internal and external reporting is an essential part of the learning and compliance function. Proactive reporting with dashboard and analytics can help you mitigate risks. Your LMS should provide real-time reporting on regulated training and competencies and certifications.

5. Blended learning
Blended learning, traditionally seen as a mix of face-to-face training and online learning, is a widely used and successful way of delivering engaging elearning. But a blend can be so much more than that – adding a variety of media types to learning programs (like video, interactive PDFs, audio, infographics, podcasts etc) is also considered blended learning. If your LMS doesn’t support blended programs, you might be missing out on a variety of technology-enabled ways to engage learners.

6. Learning paths
When designing learning programs, it’s easy to forget that learners don’t have the bigger picture at their fingertips; only L&D does. Do you learners know what courses needed to be completed in what order? And when they need to be done by? Your LMS should clearly lay out what employees need to accomplish. This makes it easy for L&D to identify gaps in learning and make the recommendations.

Should I consider switching to an on-premise or cloud-based system?

While traditional systems can be expensive, complicated to use or provide learners with outdated information, a cloud-based system can eliminate those issues. Being cloud-based provides a safe and secure learning environment.

How do I avoid an LMS system that exists in a silo?

The long-term success of any LMS implementation isn’t just about delivering great learning material; it’s also about integrating technology into the LMS.

Buyers should insist on a new LMS that is able to support integrations, such as your CRM, HRIS system and an analytics platform. A system that allows for multiple out-of-the-box integrations can eliminate the need for manual administrative work and provide better data insights. It should also enable easy and effective scalability: for example, the NetDimensions Talent Suite currently serves 100,000 users in a single setting.

In terms of scalability, it’s a good idea to choose an LMS that ‘grows with you’. For example, a lot of NetDimensions Talent Suite clients start out using just a fraction of the functions and then go on to enable additional functionality as users become more comfortable with the system and managers want more options.

Does your LMS support multiple deployment and licence models?

Is your LMS vendor flexible enough to consider the ever-evolving needs of your business? This is a question worth asking anyone who provides LMS services. It’s no secret that the pace of business is moving at a faster rate, which means today’s learning needs will be vastly different from what’s happening in two or three years’ time. Future-proofing your training early on can potentially save millions but how can this be achieved? A flexible vendor should support all commercial models. NetDimensions supports various license models like extended enterprise, On Premise, Secure SaaS, full licenses and other models.

If you enjoyed this blog, you might also be interested in our “8 Best Practices for a Successful LMS Implementation” brief. Download it now.

If you’d like to speak to a NetDimensions LMS expert about the challenges your organization is facing, get in touch here.