Getting the most bang for your LMS budget
I really struggle with buying cars. Every time I go to buy my next vehicle I face analysis paralysis. I’ll be driving whatever I choose for years to come. I want to get a good price, good mileage, maybe a sunroof, but I don't want to make a snap decision.
Choosing an LMS can be a similarly frustrating and time consuming experience. There are lots of vendors with lots of features. To further complicate the issue, there are many different pricing models making it hard to compare apples to apples when it comes to what you’re going to pay for your system. Rest easy. I’ll give you some simple pointers that should help you find the right solution for your training program. By the time we’re through, you’ll be ready to make a confident recommendation to your team without throwing darts at names taped to your wall. It might even help the next time you buy a car.
Before we start:
I suggest that you download the complete Buying an LMS
white paper. It's free and has sixteen pages packed with important information for LMS evaluators. The white paper includes a helpful needs assessment worksheet, glossary, and more detail that we can squeeze into this post.
Step 1: Sports Car or Mini-Van?
The very first step is to clearly define and articulate your requirements. Are you driving the kids to school or impressing clients? This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many buyers create RFPs with every feature ever known to eLearning. The truth is, you need to prioritize what is most important to you. Choosing a learning management system is not a one size fits all proposition. You want to deeply understand your requirements so that you can choose a vendor who meets them at the best price.
It’s important to review your current training programs and have an understanding about how they work and what you’d like to improve. Once you understand that, daydream for a while. Visualize what you’d like your training program to be in six months, next year, five years out. Once you’ve figured out what you need and where you're going, you'll want to write it down.
Step 2: Visit the Showroom
Once you’ve found a vendor or two who look like they might fit the bill, it’s time to pay them a visit. Write down any questions that aren’t easily answered on their web page and schedule a call with their sales team. Before you even look at a product demonstration, talk to them about your needs and make sure that they’re listening. This is an important step. The better vendors will take the time to get to know you and your project before they try to sell you anything. Your initial vendor steps should be:
- Get to know the sales team
- Make sure they understand your current and future needs
- Written requirements in hand, request a live product demo
- Take a few days to ruminate on the demonstration
- Circle back with questions that you still have after the demo.
- Get a price quote (review the pricing model and any extra charges)
Step 3: Take a test drive
Once you think you’ve found the system that best meets your needs, you might want to request a free evaluation period. This can be a time consuming process, so it’s important not to jump straight to this step. By now you know what you need and you have a general idea of how your potential LMS works. This is a good time to try out the software, see where you run into challenges and see how your vendor addresses any issues that arise. Load training content, create some learners, assign them to teams or departments and start enrolling them in courses. This is your chance to pretend the software is yours. Does it do what you want? Are you comfortable with the ease of use? Go back and check your list from step 1 and make sure that you can accomplish all of your required items.
Ready to buy
This was, of course, a fairly simplified look at buying LMS platforms. We didn't discuss sharing it with your team, getting buy-in from learners and executives, or migrating data from a previous LMS. Those things will come out as you go through the process. After completing the three basic steps above, you’ll have a clear list of what you need. You’ll have pricing and a good idea of available functionality. Armed with all that, you should also have the confidence to make a wise choice and eagerly start your new training program. Don't forget to download our free white paper. It will take some of the stress out of the buying process for an e-Learning management system.
Accord LMS is the Price/Performance leader in the LMS industry. We want you to have the right system and we hope that ours will be the one. Our goal is to provide an outstanding LMS with outstanding service to meet your needs today and grow with you tomorrow.