9 LMS Best Practices To Switch To A New Learning Management System

9 LMS Best Practices To Switch To A New 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.

How To Switch To A New Learning Management System

In a market that is in a constant state of flux, the exponential progression of learning technology truly stands by the statement that, ‘change is the only thing that is constant’. Most changes in Learning and Development and corporate training are a result of either technological or organizational advancements, widely influenced by the evolving learner demographic and learner behavior/ preference. This rapid pace of change often forces organizations to relook its training strategy, and what often comes after is the plan to upgrade the Learning Management System or the decision to switch to an entirely new one.

An LMS switch is usually driven by three major factors, namely the Product (feature/ function/ integration), the Vendor (service/support/continuity), and the Cost (annual licensing/maintenance/overhead). And why not? After all, every dollar counts, and every investment must be justified.

Here are a few best practices to ensure that the LMS switch is hassle-free and delivers positive results.

1. Identify The Issue

The solution itself begins with identifying the problem. This step is crucial as the entire process here after depends on how thoroughly the problems are identified and listed. It is essential to establish and describe in detail the reason(s) for the switch, though ultimately always boils down to either the product, the vendor and/or the cost.

2. Set Up A Team

An ideal team would comprise of both the stakeholders and the IT team to make the transition smooth. The stakeholders keep the team’s direction and the process aligned with the outlined problem description.

As both the teams have varying requirements and expectations from the new version, an entirely new benchmark is set with respect to identification of the new LMS.

3. Assess The Requirements

With the team in place the next step is to analyze the needs. Requirements should be identified based on the present-day usage in relation with the problem description. The requirement document should highlight both the regular features and the good to have features (as derived from the problem description) you need from the new LMS.

Create a priority list, with must-have, good-to-have enhancements is a good practice. Also, identify the users, change in number or budget and keep those figures handy.

4. Review Organizational Policies

Organizational policies keep changing from time to time. Identify the significant changes in the IT policies- data protection, data encryption etc. To ensure a hassle free LMS setup, it is important to review the policies and include them in the requirements specifications.

5. Scope And Plan For Data Migration

Often touted as the most critical aspect of the LMS switching process, it includes data mapping, data cleanup etc. The key challenge that comes along with LMS implementation is data migration. Given that the two systems would have completely different databases and different workflows, data migration during switching requires careful planning to ensure zero-data loss. Some areas within data migration that need specific attention are:

Content Migration

Content that need to be migrated is mapped using the Content Organization chart that describes content elements, its inter-relation and interaction model with the user. It includes all learning material, all logical entities like learning curriculum or learning plan or learning path, certifications, etc. This is a high-priority item for the LMS evaluation process.

Training Records Migration

Training data is always crucial as it facilitates the user evaluation from time to time. As it contains the records of all training sessions – started, in progress, or completed by the users, organizations usually opt to migrate these records to the new LMS. A compiled list of training records with description can help the new LMS vendor to analyze and prepare a smooth data migration plan and make them aware of the changes their LMS or database would require in order to accommodate those records.

User Generated Content

If the existing LMS module facilitates users to generate and share content with each other – e.g. discussion forums, social learning modules, chat rooms, Expert Queries, Issues, Interaction with Line Managers, Instructors, etc. Then the ideal migration plan should cover this data too.

User Profile And Miscellaneous Information

Though most LMSs directly interact with another system for single sign-on or capturing user profile (HRMS/ERP/Custom system, etc.), in some cases the user information is uploaded manually and modified manually over the time. Even certain other modules may contain data that needs to be migrated to the new LMS – e.g. announcements made over the time, various settings done in the system – email signatures, certificate templates, customer information, branding schemes, templates, etc. This too should be included in the plan and scope of data migration.

6. LMS Search And Selection

From identifying the potential vendors to looking for the best deal, LMS selection is altogether a different ball-game. We have listed in detail the best practices for selecting the right LMS, which is an ideal checklist to take you through the process.

Once the top 2-3 vendors are shortlisted, ask for case studies or use case scenario demonstrations that provide examples of complex tasks established earlier. The main idea is to identify the LMS with use cases which are relevant to the problem description and the other elements of the requirements you have prepared. This can eliminate the problems that usually arise when an LMS is purchased merely on the basis of sales demos or RFP checklists.

7. Be Far-Sighted

The learning landscape is one of most dynamic spaces today, which is why an LMS switch should be a long-term solution and not just an interim one. The system that you choose should be more future-ready than others and yet align with your current needs.

8. Review Thoroughly

Is it necessary? Yes, because you need to confirm whether or not the system has everything as proposed. Utilize this time for reviewing the functionalities, try all the workflows, look at the data and ensure that all requirements including the IT requirements are met. Also, check whether the company level policies and security measures have been met, and that the user roles are defined properly.

And once the LMS switch is done, cross check whether it meets the actual ‘reason’ for changing the system.

9. Prepare For The Go-Live

Fix a date for launching the new LMS system, and strictly abide to the timeline. Try to involve all the users, the stakeholders in the process for promoting the new system.

Here’s a quick checklist for a smooth go-live:

  • Set a communication plan for end users and administrators.
  • Chart the navigation steps for the new system.
  • List out the new features added.
  • Outline the benefits of the new system.
  • Also, clearly mention where and how the users can find the previous data (something like a comparison between old and new system).

The whole process of switching to a new LMS is hinged on one thing, and that is the original problem description because it defines the reason(s) behind the LMS switch. The best practices too should essentially be rooted to the actual reasons, so that you can switch to a solution that truly meets all the requirements and functions seamlessly.