LMS best practice: top tips to integrate with multiple systems

In today’s fast-paced global environment, companies are regularly challenged to adopt and respond to new business and compliance requirements, quicker than before. The learning technology landscape is evolving quickly and the role of the Learning Management System (LMS) is changing too. Most organizations who invest in learning technology and e-learning are using an LMS – more than 700 learning management system vendors compete in the marketplace. In this context, it can be overwhelming for organizations to find the learning solutions that best fit their needs.

In this two-part post, we will discuss why Learning & Development (L&D) managers are not satisfied with their learning technology (and more specifically with their LMS). We will also provide some best practices on what you should consider when you select an LMS.

LMS implementation can be like solving a puzzle

According to the Brandon Hall Group’s Learning Technology 2017 study as much as 23% of organizations indicated that they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their LMS. The dissatisfaction level is higher than with any other learning technologies.

The Brandon Hall Group has identified three main barriers to satisfaction with learning technology:

  1. 52.2% of organizations say the inability to integrate with multiple systems is a significant barrier to satisfaction with learning technology.
  2. 50.6% of organizations say poor user experience is a significant barrier.
  3. 39.7% of organizations say poor analytics capabilities is a significant barrier.


Inability to integrate with multiple systems

Most organizations want to have technology providers that can help them connect their LMS with multiple systems. According to the Brandon Hall Group’s “Focus on Integration 2017” study, 76.7% of surveyed organizations say that integration capabilities are essential or critical to their business processes.

So how important is it to integrate your LMS with the following systems?

*Brandon Hall Group’s “Focus on Integration 2017” study

Despite being seen as important or even critical by most organizations, there is not a lot of integration actually occurring. The platform most commonly integrated with the LMS is the Human Resource Information System (HRIS), and even then, only 37% of organizations say this integration exists.

Best practice ways to integrate your LMS

Pay attention to the following recommendations to make sure your LMS integrates with the systems that are critical to your business.

Key best practices for improving LMS integration

  • Involve your IT department early in the process. The learning function needs to work hand in hand with the IT function when it comes to systems integration.
  • Identify current and future system integration requirements. If you are replacing a system, look at the integrations you currently have to understand if they are all necessary. You should make sure your LMS integrates with the right systems.
  • Define how often shared items need to be updated and establish whether your systems need to communicate in real-time.
  • Define your target: what do you want to achieve with this integration? What is the business goal?
  • Prioritize and document your requirements: What is deemed essential to have in order to support your business and what connections are simply “nice to have”?
  • Avoid customizations when possible. If you decide to customize your LMS because it’s critical to your business, make sure your vendor will support these customizations when the time comes to upgrade your system.
  • Understand your vendor’s experience with integrations. Make sure your vendor can integrate with any third-party systems via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). For companies that operate in a highly regulated environment, it might also be important that the LMS integrates with non-typical HR systems. For instance, it might be critical for your LMS to integrate with your security or access control system, as was the case with NetDimensions client CERN, so only those who completed certain certifications can access certain areas of the building. Make sure your vendor has the flexibility and the API library to help you achieve this.

We hope you enjoyed part 1 of this blog series which outlines some of the different ways that L&D managers can improve their learning technology. Part 2 can be found here. 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.


Measuring the business impact of learning

Measuring the business impact of learning was a key focus at the NetDimensions EMEA User conference in London in May. According to Fosway’s Learning and Talent Analytics: Practical Strategies to Drive Real Outcomes 2015 Study, 85% of companies say HR Analytics is a medium or high priority. In addition, recent research conducted by LEO found that more than 85% of L&D professionals want to use analytics to improve their learning programs, while over 77% believe that it’s possible to demonstrate learning’s impact. However, L&D departments are still unsure about how to effectively measure the business impact of their learning activities.


Why measuring the business of learning is important

As budgets inside large organizations are decreasing, it’s becoming increasingly important for L&D to demonstrate its impact to top management. We now have the capabilities and the tools to actually analyze the connection between Learning and Development activities, and business performance. According to the Brandon Hall Group’s Learning Analytics 2017 Study, as much as 51.5% of organizations only analyze their learning program’s data annually or on an ad hoc basis. Only 14.4% of organizations continuously analyze their learning program’s data. Organizations need to move away from a snapshot analysis, which quickly becomes outdated over time, to a more sustainable process where big data is used strategically to make business decisions.

The technology to measure the business impact of learning is now available in the market but organizations are struggling to put in place a sustainable strategy to measure and then demonstrate that impact.

In the interview below, Piers Lea, Chief Strategy Officer at NetDimensions’ partner company LEO and Donald H Taylor, Chairman of the Learning and Performance Institute, talk about why measuring the business Impact of learning is important and why L&D managers should begin the journey now.


Who needs to be on board in the organization for the strategy to be adopted?

The involvement from organizations’ top leadership in planning the L&D strategy is still pretty low, but it is growing quite fast. L&D should be leading the way and actively use big data to make business decisions. If L&D continues to lags behind, the business will take actions without involving the L&D function in strategic decisions. At the moment, there’s a huge opportunity for L&D to establish credibility and get a seat at the top management table. The trend clearly shows that L&D departments are becoming much more central to business strategy, but this won’t happen without L&D playing an active role in the process.

In the video below Piers Lea and Don H Taylor talk about the different stakeholders who should be involved in the organization for an effective L&D strategy to be adopted.


Is there any example of companies that are effectively measuring the impact of their learning activities?

MedStar is a US-based company in the Healthcare sector. They use learning analytics to evaluate the effectiveness of training on clinical metrics. In the video below, Piers Lea talks about this example.


What are the steps to start measuring the business impact of learning?

There is a step-by-step process to go through but every organization should start on that journey now.

The first step to measuring the business impact of learning is making sure your organization is collecting the right data. It might take years to gather enough data before it will actually be relevant for the organization. Look into that data to identify patterns and then progress up to advanced data evaluation. All this should be done before you can actually bring in correlating data from the business.

The L&D function is willing to take on that journey but there is a clear shortage of skills in terms of the ability to both organize and analyze data. According to Fosway’s Learning and Talent Analytics: Practical Strategies to Drive Real Outcomes 2015 Study, 90% of organizations see the lack of skilled resources as a challenge in progressing with HR Analytics. According to the Brandon Hall Group’s Learning Analytics 2017 Study, only 18% of organizations have a data analyst dedicated to learning.

In the video below, Piers Lea and Don H Taylor talk about the step-by-step process to start measuring the business impact of learning.


The importance of measuring the business impact of learning

The ability to deliver proven results is a huge focus for L&D at the moment, with a view to ensure that learning should be moving to the heart of the business strategy. Some experts think that the reason why large organizations will continue to exist is actually because of their ability to scale learning. Learning is becoming one of the key areas of competitive advantage, so measuring the business impact of learning is a vitally important subject, one which continues to grow in importance.

Did you enjoy this blog? Then you might also be interested in our “Maximizing the Business Impact of Learning” report from Fosway Group. Download it now. If you’d like to speak to a NetDimensions consultant about the importance of measuring business impact, get in touch here.