Why Learning Management Systems' Implementation Fail
In an LMS Trends poll with 135 global organizations participating which was conducted by Brandon Hall, over 58% of respondents said that they are looking to replace their LMS and, in most cases, this wasn’t their first LMS. An eye opener!! What went wrong that they are looking for a new LMS and what guarantees that the second one with be a success?
- Wrong expectations
You need to keep your expectations right. Any LMS is simply a platform and can enhance and improve the way you train your staff but an LMS is not a solution to fix what you train them on. You still have to have a strategy how you can get most out of your LMS. Strategy first, LMS later.
- Choosing a complicated system
The purpose of an LMS is to enable a learner to complete his assigned training and to manage his entire training cycle in an effective way. If a simple interface with all the required stuff at one place solves the request, then who requires those complicated home pages with N number of widgets with lot of information that user never requires. If you have a cluttered and complicated LMS and your users don’t want to access the LMS, blame its complexity.
- Buying the wrong LMS
With lots of LMS providers already in the market and anticipation of more; you may be spoiled for choices you encounter with. Even before you contact a vendor to ask for demo and allow him to offer you with what he has got; you should do a well-documented analysis of what you want. It will prevent you from buying a wrong LMS even if you take lots of demos and trials of different LMSs. Involve as many people you can, the stakeholders, IT team, the actual users so that you can judge the total impact of the LMS.
- No futuristic vision
While selecting an LMS you have to think about your own growth strategies. You have to figure out your ramp up plans, multi geographical appearance, multi-language software needs and budget allocations and how flexible is the LMS to welcome all of this without much hue and cry. If you do not anticipate the future well, it might fail to survive once you are on the verge of expansions. Make sure you work with a vendor that has a clear road-map and keeps their system updated. Today – ask the vendor – is their LMS mobile ready and if it is not, when will it be?
- Hidden and recurring costs
While looking for an LMS it is advisable to ask many scenario-based questions. Try to probe around any possibilities of any hidden costs that the prospective vendor is not referring to. How much are you prepared to burn your pocket if something comes uninviting? Always look for all the terms and conditions behind promising pricing plans.
- No customization option
Every LMS has a workflow and you will be lucky if it fits in exactly with your training flow. You may have to either adapt your training flow a bit to suit the flow of the system or be prepared to ask for specific things to be configured differently or even customized. If your LMS vendor rules out customization entirely or it costs an arm and a leg, then you may want to rethink if this vendor is right for you. If you have to adapt your processes too much to avoid customization, it will cause change management issues and can be a major reason for failure. Both extremes are bad – your vendor discouraging customization and being too flexible with customization. The 80:20 or 90:10 rule must apply. If you are customizing 20%, it is acceptable. Both customer and vendor have to be prepared to consider some limited customization.
- Too much customization
We are not contradicting ourselves. If you end up requesting for too much customization, then the system may not be right for you. Your LMS can fail if you customize it to such an extent that it goes ‘off track’ from its road-map. An LMS should be highly configurable but if it is customized a lot, there are chances that it will fail when you try to upgrade it and bring it back to the level of customization you did at the beginning. Select an LMS that suits your needs exactly or needs little bit of customization 80:20 rule. Don’t get stuck over beautiful UI designs, attractive pricing list, freebees and promises of fully customizations. Your vendor would do customization for you but once the upgrade comes, your “tailor made LMS” can become a nightmare.
- Failed in managing change
If you have not handled the change management of your staff in an effective way; a highly efficient and power packed LMS can go for a toss. You have to plan their transition from a classroom training or computer -based training to an LMS while you are in the phase of implementation. A well informed change along with active employee participation on how they want their LMS to be is a smart way to handle LMS implementation and change management hand in hand.
- Poor content & presentation
What an LMS provider cannot control is how good or bad are your own content that you will upload!! An LMS is always running on a risk of failing if the actual content that you are using is not appealing and interactive enough to your employees. No employee would like to even login on the LMS if you are not sharing good enough content.
- Inadequate IT support
Whether you are opting for an open source LMS or a propriety LMS solution, an appropriate and skilled IT support has to be in place. You cannot afford to let your LMS hang during upgrades, patches updates, troubleshooting, scaling up and down etc. It should be a clear and upfront decision on choosing the IT support. If you do not have in-house teams, does the vendor offer support and how. Also, can the vendor provide administrative services as well.
We have tried to address the top reason that can fail any promising and successful LMS, feel free to add your own personal experiences.