How To Find The Right Extended Enterprise LMS For Your Organization
Finding the right LMS platform for extended enterprise training can be costly. The pursuit for the perfect LMS usually involves trial and error. Not to mention time-consuming test rounds, LMS vendor interviews and extensive learning analysis. Fortunately, there are several tips to streamline the LMS selection process and help you find the right extended enterprise LMS for your needs.
1. Set Your Learning Budget
It's essential to have a detailed learning budget before you start your extended enterprise LMS search. You must know how much you're working with, what you're willing to spend and what you expect from the investment. Next, gather all of your existing tools and assets to avoid redundancies, and figure out what you can reuse and repurpose. This also gives you the ability to itemize your expenses and cut costs. Lastly, take your time during the trial period and make a checklist of the strengths and weaknesses of each LMS platform. Then compare the results when it's time to invest in your multi-audience LMS.
2. Pinpoint Your Learning Objectives
There is a specific reason why your organization needs an extended enterprise LMS. The key is identifying the primary purpose and then finding an LMS platform that addresses the problem. For example, your company needs to increase its monthly training sales or significantly improve its customer service satisfaction ratings. This allows you to determine which LMS features and functions you require.
3. Create a Must-Have Features List
That leads right into my third tip, which is to create a list of must-have features that your organization needs. This includes eCommerce, an intuitive, brandable and localized UI, mobile, social, certifications, analytics and a flexible architecture that can scale with your external training demands. A detailed list gives you the power to narrow down your group of top candidates more rapidly. You should also create a separate list of "wants" that you'd prefer to have, if your learning budget allows.
4. Evaluate Your Current External Training Program
Analyze every aspect of your current extended enterprise training program to identify key strengths and weaknesses. Are there skill or performance gaps that you need to address? Do your external partners, resellers or distributors feel that they have all the resources they require to represent your brand? Are you building enough loyalty among your existing customers? Ideally, your new extended enterprise LMS should reduce or eliminate top learning pain points that hinder company growth.
5. Collect Employee & Partner Feedback
Sales partners, franchisees, distributors and in-house employees are a great source of feedback. They can help you evaluate your current eLearning strategy and determine what you need from your next extended enterprise LMS. Conduct surveys, focus groups, interviews and pre-assessments to disclose their personal preferences and opinions. This also allows you to determine their knowledge base so you can track their progress and incorporate learning content and LMS features that cater to their specific learning preferences and needs.
6. Look Beyond The Extended Enterprise
Speaking of employee feedback, you should also consider LMSs that can serve both the workforce and extended enterprise audiences. Your learning platform is a major investment. It is critical to look at its future use and value. You might not do a lot of employee training today, but what about down the road? If you’re buying a new LMS, you might as well find one that can organically grow with, and optimally support, your organization’s future learning needs. That way you won’t be repeating this process a few years down the road.
7. Gather Your Existing eLearning Resources
If you plan on using existing eLearning resources, you'll need an LMS that supports these file formats. Furthermore, you should be able to easily migrate your data without having to hire an IT expert. Evaluate your current resources to ensure that the new LMS platform is compatible. When in doubt, ask the LMS vendor about their integration features, including which apps and add-ons are available. For example, you may be able to purchase a plug-in that imports and converts your data with ease. Or they may already have a REST API library for easy, seamless integrations.
8. Vet Your Top Candidates
You're already pressed for time. Thus, you probably don't have room in your schedule to try out every platform on the market. For this reason, you need to create a list of top candidates and then quickly vet the most promising LMS vendors. Schedule interviews or send out RFPs, and weigh the pros and cons of each solution. You can also share the findings with your team to get them involved in the decision-making process, which will help speed LMS adoption. A side benefit of vetting your top candidates is getting a preview of future partnerships. For example, if they are unresponsive to your emails now, you'll probably have the same issue after making your purchase. Look for an LMS partner who’s invested in your current and future success.
9. Research Online Ratings, Reviews & Recommendations
There are many social media sites, online discussion forums and analyst blogs where you can find LMS reviews. You can also find recommendations for enterprise LMSs you may not have considered. Or cross an LMS vendor off your list based on unfavorable ratings. For example, a high percentage of customers had an issue with the LMS vendor's support services. If you can't find the information you're looking for, post a question or comment in a social media group. Another option is attending trade shows or conferences to discover new Learning Management Systems, and meet the vendors face-to-face.
10. Give Your LMS Finalists A Test Drive
While other eLearning professionals can give you their reviews and recommendations, you should also test drive your short-listed LMS platforms on your own. You can explore their extended enterprise features, try out their user interface/experience and evaluate each platform’s roadmap and support services. Most vendors offer free LMS demos or trials. Get your team involved and ask them to design and deploy a pilot LMS implementation project for the extended enterprise. For example, a partner certification course that is offered via a mobile app, in multiple languages, for global learners that work in the field. Then hold a wrap-up meeting to gather their feedback about the LMS’ extended enterprise capabilities and its overall functionality.
This article can help you find the right extended enterprise LMS for your budget and specific learning needs. If you would like to see how one of our customers launched their extended enterprise training program, please download our free case study. Here’s to your successful search!