How to choose an LMS for your Company
Choosing the best LMS is less like going shopping and more like events planning and management. There is no LMS shop that you can browse, and nor is there a one-size-fits-all solution.
The best LMS platforms are like the best companies – very different from one another. The process of choosing the best LMS for your organization starts way before you have even started looking into potential LMSs.
Around 30% of companies are unhappy with their current LMS, which seems very high given how much it costs to implement one. However, this goes to show that despite the high price tag, there is no guarantee that the LMS will work, or even be accepted within the organizations.
This article will give you a step by step guide on how to choose the best LMS for your company.
Goals to Set while Choosing the Best LMS?
The most important thing to decide from the outset is what are the learning goals for the project? Setting out these goals early on will guide many decisions that are to follow.
When you have these goals for choosing the best LMS down, then you must think about how they line up with the company’s organizational goals.
Vendor-bought or In-house?
Possibly the first major decision you will face while choosing the best LMS for your endeavor is if you’d want to adopt an open-source LMS, like Moodle, or purchase a custom LMS from a vendor?
Although open-source systems can be appealing (they’re “free”) they require heavy customization, come with no active support and are not generally purpose-built for business. It is more often than not a better idea to employ the services of a company that specializes in LMS and provides everything needed in one package, including support, upgrades, and training. After all, you started with looking out for the best LMS, didn’t you?
Important Questions for Analysing the Best LMS
When embarking on a needs analysis, there are a few questions that you should be asking related to your organization, your IT department and your audience to get a good idea of what is needed. The aim is to create a shopping list of features, broken into categories: necessary and desirable. Otherwise, even the best LMS wouldn’t be able to fit the size of your needs right.
About the organization
The best way to get the input of your stakeholders is by hosting a series of focus groups which will help you to promote the vision of the new best LMS and the benefits it can bring to the company. They’ll help gather information for putting together a list of specific features your best LMS must have, and get feedback on the proposed learning and organizational goals.
Involving everybody from the beginning would instill in them a sense of ownership of the project as well as it’d help extract the maximum benefits out of your chosen best LMS.
If you already have an LMS and are looking to upgrade, then this is an opportunity to ask some other important questions such as:
- What are the features of your current LMS that you like?
- What features could be improved on?
- Which features don’t work or are not required?
Some of your best friends throughout the planning and implementation process of your best LMS will be the IT department. They will help you to establish the capabilities of your networks, and tell you if an in-house system is feasible.
The IT department will provide help for all of the technical considerations of implementing your chosen best LMS, including:
Integrations with your current enterprise software – for example, CRM, CMS, HRIS and performance tools – will be a key part of your best LMS. IT will be an important player in helping this part go smoothly.
Clearly, your company is planning on growing over the coming years, so it is hugely important to choose the best LMS, which is scalable in line with your organization.
- Will an influx of users further down the line be a problem?
- Will the LMS be able to handle the extra data brought by the extra users?
Understanding your audience and their capabilities should be your guide for choosing the best LMS, throughout the project.
Do you have a workforce that is distributed across the world, perhaps in areas where access to high-speed internet isn’t a given? If learners are expected to log on when out of the office, this could be a problem. Your chosen best LMS should be able to deal with this – so we keep repeating the word “best LMS”, because the word ‘best’ prefixed to your LMS, makes the LMS capable of lessening your hassles related to all these mentioned aspects.
The best LMS platforms offer support for various devices. If your learners are busy executives, then they will find it more convenient to continue their learning on the go on their mobile devices. Likewise, if they are from less developed parts of the world and don’t have access to a computer, then smartphone access may be the only way they can continue learning outside of the office.
The Best LMS Features
To compile this list of features of the best LMS that’ll cater to your needs, you will need to be aware of the latest trends in the e-learning industry as well as the latest features the best LMS can offer, while knowing how each feature can be beneficial to your company. Some of the latest features included on all the best LMS systems are:
Performance Management and Reporting
These features in your best LMS are some of the most important for a business, as they allow you to track learner progress and knowledge as well as gauge the effectiveness of your training.
Is one of the most useful features that the best LMS can showcase. It primarily means combining traditional teacher-classroom techniques with the online methods that involve engaging, media-rich content.
Is a highly sought USP of some of the best LMSs. Through leaderboards, points system and badges, learners are motivated to persevere and return to their training while helping them to enjoy the work and hold onto the knowledge better.
This is a new addition to e-learning offers tools for sharing and collaboration as a part of your best LMS – Social Learning.
Tin Can API on your best LMS?
Tin Can is the next step in tracking learning that takes place outside of your LMS. Relevant videos and articles, conferences and other activities that take place outside of your best LMS can be tracked to give a better picture of the learner. This is a development only the latest and the best LMSs showcase.
Multi-Tenancy on your best LMS allows the administrators to set up ‘tenants’ for different departments, channel partners or vendors all under one LMS license. Each tenant has its own branding and access rights.
Mobile and Offline Learning
Mobile learning allows content to be accessed from your computer, tablet or smartphone, while offline learning means that content can be downloaded when online and used later when offline. Yes, another fantastic feature of the best LMS.
Once you have your list of necessary and desired features, it is time to contact a selection of LMS vendors. Here also you’ll have to do your research – speak to friends in the e-learning industry for advice and come up with a list of 5 or 6 options, out of which you’ll be selecting the best LMS that covers all of your requirements.
Ask for a free demo of your best LMS. They are the best way to get introduced to the potential system. Also, ask detailed questions about functionality – for this reason, you should have an IT technician present throughout.
Finally, get out there and speak to existing customers of the vendor of your best LMS. Most LMS vendors will have a client list on their website, so check it out and get in contact.
This part of the project is the most critical as it involves both the organization and the vendor working together committedly.
There are also a few pitfalls that you need to be aware of.
- Further hidden costs from customizations, support or anything else that you failed to read in the fine print that came along with your best LMS.
- Not having content ready to go may cause a delay. You should be very clear on who will be designing your e-learning content, whether it be in-house on a composing tool, outsourced to a third party or bought.
- Ensure your stakeholders are ready for the go-live and each knows what their individual tasks are.
- Finally, the implementation process takes time. The process should not be rushed. The money, time and resources that have gone into the project will have been well-spent if time and care is given to ensuring your carefully chosen best LMS is well-executed in this critical stage.
After you’ve successfully implemented your best LMS, it’s time for you to figure out the level of post-implementation services you’ll need going forward. No matter how good your best LMS works, some of the customers get by with minimum post-implementation support, others require a constant e-mail or phone support from the LMS vendor. You’ll have to check if they’ll be able to be in the loop every time you need them.
Hosting your best LMS
You’ll also have to check if you’re game for hosting, maintaining and taking a back-up of the best LMS on your own servers? Or do you want the vendor to do the same? Is your best bet to turn towards the vendor to let him do the IT stunts and other data backing up chores for your best LMS… think it out beforehand. There will be cases where you’ll absolutely love the product, but the vendor wouldn’t be in a position to give you all the hi-tech indulgences, so you’ll have to compromise! After all the best LMS is your urgency and devour.
While winding it up for you, we solicited to keep all the above-mentioned features in mind before purchasing the best LMS. Always look for a free demo to avoid a costly trial and error washout at a later stage. Do your bit of research and evaluation, and select the best LMS which is simple, straightforward and as stress-free as possible for the administrators as well as the learners.
Paradiso LMS is a feature-rich, easy to use, fully customizable cloud-based LMS for Corporations and Educational Institutions. Its functionality and innovative technology make it the best LMS in its class and on the eLearning market.