5 Tips To Overcome The LMS RFP Challenge

5 Tips To Overcome The LMS RFP Challenge
Summary: On the market for a new Learning Management System (LMS)? With over 700 Learning Management System platforms on the market today, how can you possibly narrow down the list in a way that doesn’t exhaust all your resources? What if I told you there was a way to narrow down the list without even issuing a Request For Proposal (RFP)? Here are 5 tips that will help you overcome the LMS RFP challenge.

How To Overcome The LMS RFP Challenge

Identifying a new piece of technology is a lot like dating – you can’t always predict compatibility and by the time you realize it’s not a match, it’s often too late. When looking for a new Learning Management System, many associations put together a Request For Proposal (RFP) in an effort to minimize room for error. Associations may ask vendors to submit completed RFPs because, let’s face it, a new Learning Management System can be a hefty investment, both in terms of resource allocation and finances. But, soliciting for and slogging through piles of voluminous RFPs can be a very laborious task. One that many associations simply don’t have the time or staff to handle. So, with upwards of 700 Learning Management System platforms out there, how do you narrow down the list without an RFP? Here are some tips from Abila, Inc. to ensure you overcome the LMS RFP challenge and make the right investment.

1. Business Processes – Understanding The Intended Use Of Your Learning Management System

Identifying your business processes is the most important step in the Learning Management System exploration process. The biggest mistake we see associations make is they issue an RFP and never take the time to create a list of current business processes or desired uses of the system. Furthermore, evaluating these massive documents usually turns into a features battle, which may result in ending up with a system that has the most bells and whistles instead of the system with functionality to meets your needs.

2. Budget – Why It Is Important To Be Transparent

Establishing your budget and helping your prospective vendors understand your budget saves everyone time and money. While it’s common for an organization to send out an RFP without indicating a budget, and instead use a rubric ranking vendors on cost and features, this really is a disservice to the vendors and your organization. As we all know, there’s more than one way to cook an egg. Many Learning Management Systems have a baseline solution at a low price point, which may be customized to exceed six figures, possibly making it unaffordable for your organization. In order for Learning Management System providers to present you with a solution that meets your needs, with as much value as possible within the reality of your budget, they need to know what that budget is!

3. Integration – How It Can Predict Your Future

With up to five generations represented in your membership base today, a shift in the needs of your members is inevitable. With a decline in membership retention across all industries, many associations are struggling to figure out how to get more members and how to retain their existing members.

The answer to all your problems is meaningful data. Data tells stories, communicates results, provides feedback, and even predicts the future. With today’s members interacting with multiple systems such as an Association Management System (AMS), Learning Management System, Community Platform, Job Board, etc., how do you make sense of all that data? That, my friend, is where integration comes in. Integration is about getting all the data from the many systems within your association into one place. It is not until that data is in one central repository that meaningful data can be generated to identify super members, engagement gaps and member personas, which can all be used to predict future trends.

4. Customer Support – How Much Do You Really Need?

Customer support is one of those things… it’s better to have and not need than need and not have. And, it’s not only about the support offered during implementation, it’s also about ongoing training, upgrades, maintenance, and the potential fees associated with these services.  If ongoing support is important to your organization and you don’t want to pay premiums every time you need assistance from your vendor, rest assured there are vendors that offer these services at no additional cost.

Just as important, how does the vendor support your members and ultimately your reputation? Thanks to Google, anyone, anywhere can access content with the click of a button, for free. This means associations are faced with the additional challenge of competing with free. What is your Learning Management System vendor doing to ensure your learners have an excellent experience every time they interact with you, creating a loyal return customer?

Some Learning Management System vendors direct all questions to your team, putting the responsibility on you to become technical experts, while others have a support team dedicated to fielding questions from your members. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a vendor that offers 24/7 support to meet the needs of the members who can’t access educational content during standard business hours.

5. Industry Experience – Can Your Learning Management System Vendor Help You Be More Innovative?

Luckily, not all 700+ Learning Management Systems are geared towards meeting the needs of member-based organizations. The reason I mention this is because those that focus on meeting the needs of associations will inevitably understand your business better than those that don’t.

So how do you find a good Learning Management System? The answer is simple. Narrow down a list and research the vendors. What do they do with their industry knowledge? Do they invest in resources to help you stay ahead of the curve through educational webinars, thought leadership blogs, think tank exercises and case studies? This information will help you determine whether a vendor is interested in just getting your business or in building a partnership to help you succeed.