10 LMS Best Practices To Select The Right Learning Management System

10 LMS Best Practices To Select The Right Learning Management System
Summary: 'LMS Best Practices' is a series of articles that distils our 13+ years of experience in the eLearning domain, across industries and verticals world-wide, which will help you with all aspects of Learning Management Systems - from Selection to Implementation and beyond.

LMS Best Practices: How To Select The Right Learning Management System

In a market that boasts of a legion Learning Management Systems (LMSs), most organizations face a common quandary - that of deciding which LMS will best suit its needs in the context of its business objectives, Learning and Development goals, feature & functionality requirements, and budget constraints, amongst other things. Here are a few LMS best practices to follow that can help you in the evaluation and selection of a Learning Management System that's 'right' for your requirements:

1. Analyze Your Learning/Training Objectives

Before exploring the available Learning Management System options, it is critical to define your Learning and Development objectives; what you wish to achieve from the training program - from a short-term, mid-term, and long-term perspective.

2. Define Your Business Needs

Aligning your training/learning objectives with your corporate goals is the key to a solid L&D strategy that delivers on your expectations. So, along with defining Learning and Development objectives, it's a must to understand and outline your actual business needs.

Talking to your core leadership, conducting focus groups with stakeholders in the organization, checking with the IT department about technical constraints and reviewing operational and financial considerations are good starting points.

3. Consider Capabilities Of Your Learning And Development Department

While a Learning Management System can contribute seminally in training, the human perspective must not be ignored. It is good to understand the capabilities and skills of your Learning and Development team before choosing a Learning Management System. Can the team manage the LMS? If yes, it helps to think what all can be managed internally and what needs to be outsourced.

4. Understand System Functionality Requirements

Technical requirements center on operation models, integration ability, customization strategy, feature development, enhancements, and security. Here's a quick questionnaire that can be of help:

  • Is there need for an on-premise solution, cloud-based or shared hosting?
  • Is data security and privacy a concern?
  • What is the application backup strategy? How often? What is the backup location?
  • What integrations will be needed? Is data sharing required?
  • Are there content compliance standards requirements like SCORM, AICC, xAPI (Tin Can)?

5. Decide On The Content And Courses

While a Learning Management System is a technology platform, you must not lose sight of the fact that it is after all just a software that is used to deliver training content to the learners. It is therefore essential to consider what type of content will be delivered and where this content will come from as this too will greatly impact your LMS requirements.

6. Lay Down The Actual LMS Requirements

Once you have clearly defined the core learning/ training objectives, business needs, system requirements, content type and source, and desired results from the Learning Management System, it will be easier to translate those into 'actual' LMS requirements, which can be categorized as 'Critical/ Must-have' and 'Good-to-have'.

After all, a positive ROI is possible only if the LMS justifies the features and functionalities that are relevant to your business.

7. Think About The User Experience

A very important point to consider before choosing a Learning Management System is its capability to deliver a good User Experience (UX). UX is almost synonymous to a user’s happiness and is not just about the usability, but is influenced by three main factors: System, User and the Context of Use. It is imperative to ensure that the LMS you choose functions flawlessly when it comes to delivering a good UX.

8. Shortlist Learning Management Systems And Vendors

Out of the hundreds of Learning Management Systems available in the marketplace, the best way to go forward is to narrow down the choices by shortlisting. You may begin by striking out systems that DO NOT fit your requirement criteria so that you have a smaller list to choose from. Once you have filtered your choices, you can research websites and contact vendors to inquire about their product.

Remember, to check with the LMS vendors about their background, experience and expertise during the selection process. You can always check online for reviews or ask someone who has used the product before. Vendor research is an extensive task but can be made easier by narrowing down the search by considering the following aspects:

  • Free trial and system demo.
  • Familiarity with your market.
  • Company size.
  • Level of experience with eLearning/online training.
  • Industry experience and recognition.
  • Testimonials/recommendations.
  • Case studies/use cases.
  • Support provisions (onsite implementation support, active online support, etc.).
  • Upgrade facility.
  • Custom integration services.
  • Flexible payment options.

9. Support Services And Trial/ Demo Options For The LMS

As mentioned earlier, support services and free trial/demo are two of the important aspects in vendor selection.

Round-the-clock support is an important aspect that a vendor needs to provide. Checking if they are going to be able to troubleshoot problems that may be encountered with the Learning Management System, asking about the support services that come with the LMS package are some points to consider before short listing a vendor.

Similarly, it is also important to ask for a trial or a demo before using the actual product that will allow you to experience the LMS first-hand. A live LMS demo will help you determine if the features and functionalities are in-line with your learning and development needs.

10. Selecting The LMS

The final and, of course, the most important step in the process is actually selecting the Learning Management System. While you need to ensure that the LMS meets your current learning needs, you also have to consider long term gains like cost-effectiveness and future-proofing your learning.

A Learning Management System is a long term investment that can benefit your organisation and fulfill the learning needs of your employees for a long time. A bit of research, evaluation, and internal auditing can a long way in helping you to choose the right one.