Feature-Rich Vs. Compliance Focused LMS: Which One Should You Choose?
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Comparing Feature-Rich Vs. Compliance Focused LMS

A Learning Management System (LMS) is software for planning, tracking, managing and, in some cases, delivering training and learning. Learning Management Systems should allow the administration of classroom and on-the-job training, including inductions and refreshers, as well as pre-job briefings. In the past, Learning Management Systems were standalone, perhaps installed on one PC or on a corporate network; most modern systems are online, in the cloud, accessible from anywhere, and kept secure via password access.

The eLearning component of Learning Management Systems might include off-the-shelf training provided by a third party (sometimes tailored for an organization) and materials developed in-house, which could include text, images, and video content.

While eLearning is a cost-effective way of providing workers with essential knowledge, some face-to-face training will be needed to reinforce and evaluate practical skills and on-the-job application of the training. For instance, an online manual handling course should be followed by a workplace assessment of lifting techniques, or fire safety eLearning might be used as a refresher for fire wardens after company-specific classroom training.

1. Essential Features For Compliance

To demonstrate compliance, a Learning Management System must be more than a list of courses with ticks next to each employee’s name. There must be evidence that training needs and other relevant regulatory requirements regarding safety and health risks have been determined. Too many prosecutions under health and safety legislation point to lack of evidence of training as a key factor, as do judgments handed down by regulators such as the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). With a recent ICO fine of £400,000 to an organization for failing to protect customer and employee information, and FCA fines running into tens of millions of pounds when staff breach anti-money laundering regulations, identifying training needs is a key requirement.

Small organizations might be able to record training needs individual by individual, but large organizations will want to be able to assign a training need to a group of people, defined by their role or location.

Having identified training needs, your Learning Management System should take over the administration of the training—inviting employees to classroom training, or prompting them to log in to eLearning courses. Most eLearning courses include an online assessment of knowledge. The Learning Management System will record the score, and prompt the user to resit the test (and in some cases, part or all of the course) if the pass mark is not met.

The administration aspect of the Learning Management System is as important as the learning aspect. Different administrators should have access to different parts of the system: the safety manager needs to see all records for safety courses, but not for HR courses; line managers need to see all training records for all the staff reporting to them, but not for staff outside their department.

Reports should be easy to produce, both at an individual level and a statistical level. For example, to track the completion rates of a particular course, or the average test scores for a particular subject.

Don’t forget refresher training. The Learning Management System must be capable of recording repeat intervals for courses, and allow these to be set differently for different courses, and even for different people—for example, perhaps your fire wardens need annual fire safety training, whilst other staff might only be retrained every two years.

2. Going Beyond Compliance: Productivity And Engagement

You can achieve compliance without a Learning Management System. Like many organizations, you can document your training needs in Word, circulate them on paper, book training over the telephone, and spend an hour every morning chasing up people who haven’t done their training. When the regulator comes to call, you can ask for a few days to get all the paperwork together to show that you have met the requirements to identify competencies needed and provide appropriate training.

Whilst compliance might be your first priority, a feature-rich Learning Management System can provide so much more in terms of improved productivity, at each stage of the process:

a. Assigning Training Needs

Your Learning Management System should contain a model of your organizational structure, ideally linked to your HR systems so that it is updated with joiners and leavers. You should be able to assign a course, or a set of courses, to all people in one department, all managers of a given level, or all employees with a particular role title.

A fully-featured Learning Management System will allow you to decide who can assign training needs—do you want this only to be in the hands of a training administrator, or should line managers be able to pick courses? Do you want to let employees self-enroll? Can your Learning Management System manage contractor inductions or training for temporary staff? Productivity will be reduced if you need to resort to pen and paper for people outside your HR system.

b. Invites And Escalation

As well as sending employees invites, a feature-rich Learning Management System won’t expect you to check a spreadsheet and contact learners individually. If learners haven’t completed their training, the system will automatically send reminders and escalate to line managers if required. And if employees forget their passwords, as they often do, the Learning Management System should be able to handle requests for new passwords without your intervention.

c. Course Completion

Whilst some training must still be classroom or workplace-based to be effective, eLearning courses improve productivity where there are lots of facts to absorb, often alongside traditional training. Employees can learn at a time and place that suits them, at a pace that matches their ability to learn. Employers can reduce time spent away from the workplace. For fact-based learning, classroom training is driven by the slowest learner—a frustration for the faster learners, and an embarrassment for those who need more time. With online learning, learners can repeat training as often as they like. Another often overlooked saving is the cost of printed course materials—online presentation of information saves paper and can be more engaging than a paper manual, with interactive exercises, quizzes, and animations.

d. Reporting

For the administrator, time is saved in chasing bookings and following up with line managers. Time can be spent on those learners who have struggled to successfully complete their training. Training is about more than compliance—it’s about personal development and adding value to the organization. Having easy to hand training records will make it easier to review development needs, for example at annual appraisals, to the benefit of the individual, line manager, and organization.

Some training requirements (such as first-aid) allow shorter refresher courses within a stated time period; if the time limit is exceeded, the full course must be repeated. Missing the deadline for booking and attending refresher courses could result in an extra three or four days out of the workplace for staff. For other training courses, you could use your Learning Management System to provide a pre-course test to employees and allow them to forego some of the training if they pass the test, focusing your resources on those who need it most.

A fully featured Learning Management System will go beyond recording the results of online learning. Apart from recording classroom and on-the-job training, can the Learning Management System you are considering be used to roll out new policies? The system of email reminders to read about a policy, the ability to ask questions to check whether the policy has been understood, and the reporting functions described for eLearning, will reassure your board that the organization remains compliant without draining the resources needed to keep it productive.

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