At Capterra we’ve found that there are two (obvious) steps you must take when evaluating LMS or e-learning solutions to ensure you get a system that fits your needs. And more importantly, these two steps will ensure you actually use the system. They are common sense steps that surprisingly are often skipped. Not surprisingly, those that skip them aren’t quite loving their new LMS solution.
Make sure you complete the Two Key Steps to Selecting and Loving Your First LMS
Step 1. Think Through Your Courses
What’s the single most important factor for success with any new training program? The courses themselves. Even the top LMS or training system simply helps you organize and manage the process of having learners take the courses. If the courses themselves are no good or you can’t easily create them, you’re not going to succeed.
It seems obvious that people would focus on their courses when selecting a new training system or LMS, but that’s not always the case. There are several things you should do to ensure you’ve “thought through” your courses:
- If you haven’t created an e-learning course before, make sure you create a course or two prior to investing in a new LMS. Converting your PowerPoint slides or documents into an e-learning course is typically pretty easy, but if you are unable or unwilling to consistently create high-quality courses, you don’t need an LMS...and you certainly won’t succeed.
- Make sure you think about your learning environment(s) and all the different types of courses you have and want to offer. Many LMS solutions focus on a particular type of learning. Will all your training be offered online so that learners can complete it on their schedule (aka asynchronous learning)? Or will it be “live”, in a classroom-like fashion with everyone attending together (aka synchronous learning)? Do you currently (or want to in the future) offer courses in multiple formats like, audio, video, Flash, or animation?
Being able to easily create courses for your learning environment(s) in the formats you want is the 1st key to success.
Step 2. Focus on Usability
Once you’ve considered your courses and created a few, the next step will be to “test drive” a few systems in order to get a feel for them. Ease of use, user friendliness, U/X...whatever you want to call it, if you don’t like driving it, don’t buy it. We’re constantly surprised to learn from buyers who hate their systems that they didn’t take the time to try the free trial or at least get a demo.
If you want to love your new system, you should make sure you take the time to:
- Check out the free trial or at least get a live demo. The argument against this by those who end up hating their systems is that it takes time, is hard or confusing to set up, or they don’t have someone to handle it. Any guesses why they aren’t succeeding with their e-learning programs?
To love your LMS, you have to use it. Reading a laundry list of overly complex features seems like you’re evaluating the best learning management system, but love is a feeling not a list of functionality you’ll never use. Get a feel for the system. How hard is it to create or load a learner, include quizzes, manage certificates, or track progress? Make sure you know before you buy.
- Make sure you have the users check out the system too. Include the training manager, course designers/developers, and learners in the process of evaluating the system. The easiest and often the single best thing you can do to ensure adoption is to let the end users try the system and provide their input.
Your 2nd key to success is ensuring people will actually use the system you buy.
Sure, there are numerous other factors that lead to people disliking their LMS (focusing solely on price, buying what your friend has, or buying way more than you need, for instance), but by completing these two common sense, obvious steps you’ll protect yourself from making the most common mistakes when buying an LMS.
Loving your first LMS will take time and effort but anything that you love is worth it.
If you’ve been through it, let me know what steps you’d add that are critical to finding the right LMS in the comments below.