Scrap Your Learning Management System - 4 Reasons To Scrap Your LMS: What To Ask Before You Do
Artie Medvedev/

4 Reasons Why You Should Scrap Your Learning Management System

Amongst the top findings of a recent learning industry survey were that social/mobile technologies were the biggest priorities; User Experience was critical; integration was becoming more important, and learning technology satisfaction was lagging.

The fact that social media, mobile technologies, and User Experience are big priorities is not surprising. They are the latest trends and are in demand by users. The reality is that today’s workforce is more demanding—learners want content pushed out to anywhere at any time.

However, another study showed that nearly 70% of corporate learning is still Instructor-Led. Much of that is now done virtually rather than in-person, but according to that study, organizations still rely on ILT for the majority of their training. While learners often want digital content, the fact is that ILT is often the best choice for many types of learning. As a result, a blended approach of Instructor-Led Training and eLearning continues to be the ideal solution. Yet, most innovations in Learning Management Systems have nothing to do with ILT. And in fact, many software vendors have completely removed (or never offered) the ability to manage ILT from their LMSs.

Integration is becoming more important because it is becoming less available. But as many software companies jump on the cloud or off-the-shelf bandwagons, integration ability can be lost. Turn-key cloud applications that let customers set up instantly may be unable to easily integrate with existing enterprise systems.

Based on the above, it’s no wonder learning technology satisfaction is lagging and that many organizations are scrapping their existing Learning Management System.

There are 4 main reasons for an organization to consider moving from one LMS to another. And this list isn’t just for Learning Management Systems. These are the typical reasons for discarding any enterprise system.

1. Insufficient Functionality

Organizations that made software purchasing decisions based on price rather than functionality may find out fairly quickly that the system can’t meet their needs—and never will. Or maybe the organization has evolved but the software hasn’t—or it hasn’t evolved in the same direction. As a result, you find yourself with new or changed activities that you can’t manage properly with the existing software. Either way, the relationship between the available functionality and the organization’s needs is failing.

2. Unsatisfactory Reporting

Is your current system providing you with the financial analysis you need for budgeting and planning as well as showing you which activities are having the most impact? If your LMS lacks the necessary reporting capability, you’ll probably want to move on to software that does. Data has become king. There’s a good reason we have the saying "Who masters the data rules the world". Even if the functionality that you require is available, if you can’t get the information you need out when and how you need it, then the system isn’t working for you.

3. Inadequate Vendor Support

Did you discover that after the purchase was completed, and the vendor had your money, they seemed to completely disappear from the face of the earth? Emails and phone calls go unanswered. Issues are never resolved. In some cases, it’s simply that the vendor has focused all their resources on sales and has neglected customer support. In other cases, a lack of vendor support can also be a result of mergers or acquisitions. The vendor you originally purchased from has merged with another vendor or was purchased outright. You were promised that your software would be maintained and that your support would not suffer. But later, you find the new vendor wants you to ‘migrate’ to a different product. To push you along, they have scaled back (or ceased to offer) support, and you are left hanging.

4. Financial Unsustainability

Over time, you’ve found the price to maintain the current LMS more than what you were expecting or that the costs have grown substantially since your initial purchase. Possibly, you were misled about what was included, and now you find that modules or services ordered ‘a la carte’ are eating up your budget. Are you a victim of a vendor merger or acquisition as mentioned above and are being pushed toward a new (and much more expensive) product? Many systems turn out to be unsustainable due to unexpected costs.

Maybe all 4 reasons for replacing an LMS listed above apply. But before you run out and replace your LMS, take some time to objectively evaluate your existing system.

Is It Actually The LMS Or Is It Something Else?

Is the Learning Management System truly not able to meet your needs or is outdated learning or internal processes the issue? Is there staffing or are there procedural issues interfering with the management of learning within the organization that has nothing to do with the LMS software?

Maybe, you’ve had a turnover of staff and the current administrators have never been formally trained to utilize your LMS software. In that case, training may solve the problems you are having with the system.

Is it possible the issue is with learners not taking advantage of what’s offered to them via your LMS? Could it be that line managers aren’t promoting your learning programs? It might also be an issue of learners not understanding how Learning and Development programs help them and the organization to meet goals.

If It Is The LMS, Why Isn’t It Working?

If you’ve eliminated organizational or procedural issues, then it’s time to do a review of the LMS and its functionality to find out why the software isn’t working. Maybe, it never did work for you the way you wanted, but you’ve ‘made do’ and you just can’t anymore. Goals are not being met, and your Learning and Development programs are failing. If it did work for you at one time, what’s different now? Has your organization changed? Has your industry changed? Has technology changed? Have your needs evolved in one direction while the LMS has evolved in another (or not at all)?

Can The Current LMS Be Fixed?

Always consider re-tooling the existing software before implementing an entirely new system. In most cases, a rebuilt system can be cheaper than a new one.

If the issue is a lack of features, maybe you aren’t using all that’s available. Was all the functionality implemented, or are there additional modules? Have new features been added but never put to use by your organization?

If the majority of the system works for you, but you have a unique need that isn’t covered, can you customize the software or have the vendor do it for you? Some Learning Management Systems offer developer tools such as an API (application programming interface) that lets customers change the look and feel, write custom pages, or design unique workflows.

Final Word

Let’s face it, everything needs maintenance including enterprise systems. But sometimes more than regular maintenance is required. Re-tooling or refurbishing is one option. Replacement is another. But before you make a decision about which is the right move for your organization, be sure you’ve considered all the pros and cons. Changing an enterprise system is no small task and can have significant consequences throughout your organization.

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