The LMS Buying Guide: How To Find The Perfect Learning Management System

The LMS Buying Guide: How To Find The Perfect Learning Management System
Summary: How do you compare each Learning Management System to find the one that suits your specific organizational needs?

Comparing Learning Management Systems: The LMS Buying Guide For An LMS Comparison

When conducting an LMS comparison, the first step is understanding the options among broad categories or types of eLearning software. Once you decipher the different types, you can judge which LMS fits best with your organization.

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Horizontal Vs. Vertical LMS

The first broad categories we can use to compare Learning Management Systems are horizontal and vertical — or broadly useful and niche specific.

Horizontal LMS

A horizontal LMS will be industry-agnostic since it can be used by corporations in any business sector. They’re often referred to as a “one-size-fits-all” solution to handle various operations, as they aren’t limited by a company’s content or specialty. For example, an online cloud-based training platform like SchoolKeep can be considered a horizontal LMS that works effectively across many industries, business models, and use cases.

You can understand this distinction in types of LMSs by considering what has happened with enterprise software generally in other functions like marketing, finance, HR administration, or sales. Examples of horizontal enterprise software include customer relationship management (CRM) giant Salesforce, leading inbound marketing and sales software Hubspot, or HR software Zenefits. Companies in a wide variety of industries use those software solutions because they work well as companies grow and change. The same thing is happening with Learning Management Systems.

Vertical LMS

Vertical LMS solutions tailor their product design and feature sets to one industry, such as insurance or health care. This approach to integrating training software can work well in legacy companies with established business models and partnerships.

The most recognized examples of the vertical LMS are in one very large niche, higher education, where there are many specialized solutions available, such as Moodle and D2L.

But other industries with their own training needs are served by specialized Learning Management Systems also. For example, Wisetail is an LMS designed especially for the hospitality and fitness industries.

Which is Right For Your Company?

The decision is based primarily on your company’s objectives: If you are highly specialized or have a single use case –as is often the case in governmental or non-profit organizations, for example–, a vertical solution might be best. But if you need flexibility because you are in a dynamic industry, a horizontal LMS is better designed to adapt and grow with you.

You’ll also want to consider whether other departments within your organization can benefit from the LMS. We see many fast-growing companies implementing training cross-departmentally, often for attracting and onboarding external partners and training internal employees.

Comparing 4 LMS Deployment Models

Another factor to consider when working through your LMS comparison, or looking into any enterprise software, centers on where it lives and how you will interface with it. There are 4 basic deployment models:

1. Cloud Or Hosted

A cloud or hosted LMS houses the data, programs, and applications off-site on the vendor’s server. One of the main advantages of a cloud-based Learning Management System is that, because your usage is flexible, the pricing and therefore your costs can also be flexible.

2. Installed Or On-Premises

With an installed or on-premises LMS, the buyer acquires the license or a copy of the LMS and installs it on its own in-house server. These LMSs typically incur additional costs as updates do not occur automatically. Your team is required to implement the update, which delays the process of receiving new features, performance enhancements and bug fixes.

3. Open-Source

Also referred to as “free”, open source LMS means the source code is open to anyone. The “free” in this case refers to the freedom to adapt the software to your specific requirements. It is highly customizable, but requires a sophisticated level of technical expertise to configure the code.

4. Custom-Built

Lastly, for some companies a custom-built LMS may be appealing. If you have the internal resources and infrastructure, you can hire a team of developers to build and maintain your own LMS. This works best if the organization demands a highly specific and tailored learning solution. Sometimes, an open source LMS serves as a springboard to a custom-built LMS.

If you want to know more on evaluating, selecting, and deploying a corporate Learning Management System, download the free eBook The Complete LMS Buying Guide For SMBs.

Related articles:

1. How To Compare Online Course Platforms Quickly

2. 6 LMS Buying Questions To Ask Before Connecting With Vendors

3. 6 Ways To Conduct A Comprehensive LMS Evaluation

4. Free eBook: The Complete LMS Buying Guide For SMBs