Choosing An LMS That Fits Your Needs: Features, Cost, Implementation

What You Need To Know About Choosing An LMS That Fits Your Needs

Choosing an LMS that fits your training and development needs means going for big improvements and changes. But how should you plan for LMS success? Here are the steps you need to take and which will help you streamline and optimize the Learning Management System implementation process, saving your team time and resources.

How To Implement An Engaging LMS
Discover a step-by-step guide on how to plan for, choose, implement, and evaluate an engaging Learning Management System for your new training and development program.

Features, Cost, Support, And Connectivity

The first thing you should be thinking about when choosing an LMS is, of course, its features. Let’s take a look.

Must-Have And Nice-To-Have Features / Connectivity And Support

We encourage you to start by ironing out what your “must-have” core features are, then you can move on to your “nice-to-have” features.

Some questions to ask yourself while you are looking:

  • Are my “must-have” features offered by the LMS?
  • Does it have the tracking and reporting capabilities we require?
  • Is the customer support ample?
  • Do they provide a free trial or live demo of the LMS?
  • What is the pricing structure?
  • Does the interface look modern and easy-to-use?

2 additional elements to bring up to LMS vendors:

  1. Does The Provider Lean Into New Industry Trends?
    The LMS industry is always evolving to keep up with changing technology and learning trends. Does this LMS provider values connectivity with other applications, such as Salesforce, webinar platforms, or your HR software? Are they trying to improve and expand their eLearning offerings? What improvements have been made in the last few years? What is on their product roadmap for the next year? Do they connect well with other apps and services?
  2. Keep Future Growth In Mind
    The goal is to have this new LMS not only work well today, but for years to come. Make sure the platform can meet your long-term goals and grow with you. If you have 100 new learners next year, what is your cost? If you create some fantastic content that others might want to learn from, can you start to charge for certain courses?

Cost Models To Fit Your Needs

There are several popular cost models that LMS providers use. There is no “best cost structure,” and you have to evaluate your needs and predict your future needs in order to find which model will be the best for your organization.

These are 4 of the most frequent cost structures you will see from LMS providers.

1. Pay Per Registered User And Pay Per Active User
  • Pay per registered user
    This means you are paying for every customer that has registered and made an account in your LMS. You are not paying based on how many employees you have.
  • Pay per active user
    This structure allows you to only pay for users who utilize your system during that billing cycle. Or, you have the option to pay a one-time fee per user when they first sign up on your system.
2. Licensing

With this model, you pay a set monthly or annual license fee for the LMS. This includes a predetermined number of users and a specified list of features.

3. Purchase

Some LMS providers offer the option to simply buy their product for a flat fee, allowing you to have as many users as you would like.

4. Free Options
  • Freemium
    Certain LMS providers offer a basic, free version of their services. The users have to start paying when they utilize certain paid features.
  • Open Source
    This option requires a lot of technical knowledge. Open source LMS providers publish their programming for free on the web, and companies can take that programming and configure it the way they would like and use it.

Keep your “must-have” and “nice-to-have” features in the front of your mind as you talk to LMS providers. Every business is unique, so take your time in finding one that will work best for your training goals, strategies, and learners.

Learning Management System Implementation: Configuration, System Integration, Data Migration, And Content

Let’s assume you have chosen a fantastic LMS and you are ready to start the implementation process. Here are some of the overarching steps to get this powerful tool working as quickly as possible.

This is a high-level view of a project initiation, project execution, and LMS deployment plan and will give you an idea of what the process might look like for your team. Keep in mind that every Learning Management System implementation will be different.

Project Initiation: LMS Kickoff Meeting

This meeting should be used to meet your LMS project team and confirm expectations for the LMS deployment.

Example meeting agenda items:

  • Introductions: LMS team / Customer team
  • Walk through deliverables from the proposal
  • Review setup steps and discuss key decisions for your new LMS including:
    • Branding
    • How will users register/login to your LMS?
    • How will you group/assign content?
  • Confirm expectations, configurations*, and timeline
  • Identify next steps and any action items prior to starting production

*Configurations refer to how users will be accessing the LMS. Will you utilize Single Sign-On (SSO)? Registration codes? Data migration for direct login?

Project Execution / LMS Deployment

This is an example checklist we use with our customers to stay on track through the LMS implementation process:

  • LMS Provider: Designated project manager provides LMS deployment timeline
  • LMS Provider: Initial development / QA review
  • LMS Provider: Customer user data migration (if applicable)
  • Customer: Upload initial courses and build curriculum map
  • LMS Provider: LMS deployment and QA
  • Customer: SSO implementation (if applicable)
  • LMS Provider: Data Migration (if applicable)
  • LMS Provider/Customer: System handoff meeting
    • Tour of the system
    • Schedule/coordinate in-depth training session(s)
    • Develop system communication plan
  • LMS Provider/Customer: Training session(s)
    • Training sessions are scheduled on a weekly basis: In order to use your training time most effectively, have your content ready and available to upload into the LMS. Also, have any images you would like to use for customization and branding in your LMS.

We hope this high-level overview of the processes used in the LMS implementation process gives you an idea of what is required for this part of the process. Keep in mind that every LMS provider will have their own processes and procedures for how they work with you during the onboarding and implementation process.