StackedBooksWireMouseMany of the Learning and Development Professionals we speak with here at Orgwide Services have recently mentioned being in the market for a new Learning Management System (LMS).  I find this interesting, since we are right at a decade from launching the first LMS I was involved with at my past employer.  I wonder if it isn’t “time” for upgrade/replacement of this critical business tool

due to new and improved technologies that were available even just a few years ago.  With so many considering “the next LMS” for their organization, I thought I’d offer my own 3 considerations when selecting a new LMS.

Integration – Is this a new LMS, or your organization’s first?  If your organization has not yet adopted an LMS and begun to enjoy the benefits of eLearning, you may not need a lot of bells and whistles from your system.  You may find that a simple system is all you need to get started.  However, if you’ve had an LMS for a number of years, you may want to consider what types of integration you want from your next one including:

  • Do you want to integrate to your email system?  Do you want automated email notifications for certain events (completions, testing, certifications, due dates, etc.)?
  • Do you want to integrate with a scheduling application?
  • Should your system fully integrate with your HRIS?

Functionality – If this is your first LMS, again, you may only need basic functionality – course hosting, student tracking of access/completions/tests, etc.  If you’ve had a LMS for a while and are upgrading, you may desire more functionality such as:

  • Single Sign-on from your intranet?
  • Multiple languages?
  • Bookmarking (important in a self-paced environment!)?
  • Tracking of outside educational sessions on the student’s record?
  • Prerequisites, pretesting, and restricting access based upon these?
  • Testing - # of attempts, time in test, scores, and importantly – What level of evaluation are you looking for: Reaction? Learning? Skill? ROI?

Course Authoring – Now that you have your LMS – whether it’s your first or an upgrade from your previous system – you need to think about your curriculum.  Will you use off-the-shelf?  Will you author custom learning content?  Do you want both?  What authoring tool should you use?  Does your internal team have the experience/skill to author or should you involve a quality outside vendor/partner?  Will you only host eLearning, or will you build “blended courses” which have online pre-work and post-work sandwiching the classroom event?  Lots of decisions here – all important to consider before buying your LMS.

BONUS – Or “Lagniappe” as my friends in Louisiana say!  Ecommerce… think broadly about your learning environment.  Can you charge “tuition” for your content?  Either to partners, customers, other internal groups – is the expertise you’ve built worth a small investment, tuition, or “charge-back?”  Your training department might seek to merely offset the costs associated with the system, or you may turn your training department into a revenue center!

Before you embark upon selecting your first LMS, or upgrading your current system, carefully considering things like Integration, Functionality, and Course Authoring will help you get the most out of your purchase in the years to come.  If you’re not sure where to turn next – give us a call – we’re here to help!

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