There are hundreds of Learning Management System vendors. Faced with so many choices, how do you find the best learning management system for your particular organization? The key is being able to find the best-fitting LMS for your unique needs and budget.
These ten steps will take you through an effective selection process, from planning through purchase. Please consider each step carefully to help determine which LMS solution will work best for you.
10 Steps to Finding the Best LMS
Step 1: Review Your Present Learning Model
Evaluating your current training program is an important first step towards selecting the best LMS to suit your company’s needs.
What tools do you use now? What works well? What are the limitations? What is missing?
Determining what is presently effective and then acknowledging any deficits will help you to select an LMS which will enhance your present strengths and then compensate for any shortcomings.
Step 2: Define Training Goals
Have you asked yourself why you are considering an LMS? Do you want to save on travel expenses? Enforce compliance? Sell courses online? Do you desire easier management of your training programs?
Completely understanding your goals is the best way to select the LMS which will most help your organization. Discernible goals will facilitate the objective review of how effective your new LMS is following implementation.
Step 3: Your eLearning Assets
Well-made content is expensive to create and can be utilized for years. Should there be a need to transfer to a new LMS platform at some point in the future, it is important to ensure that all this valuable content can be readily transferred.
Content published to SCORM industry standards is the most reliable way to ensure that your content is portable to other LMS platforms. Some LMS platforms use built in authoring tools which are non-SCORM compliant and may not be portable.
In addition to best of breed SCORM Authoring Tools, you might want to make use of existing training assets such as video, recorded webinars, PowerPoint presentations, etc. In either case, take the time to test samples of your training content in any Learning Management System as part of your software evaluation process.
Step 4: Review LMS Features
Review a given vendor’s website to determine if their features meet your needs. You don’t need a system with the most features; this only adds unnecessary cost and complexity. You need a system with the right features to help ameliorate any present training issues or deficiencies. Check out the Accord LMS Features page for an example.
Please beware; some LMS vendors will market flashy User Interface but skimp on robust feature development. Looks can be very deceiving.
Step 5: Familiarize Yourself with the Vendor
Buying an LMS can be a big decision. A worthy LMS vendor should be a supportive partner for years to come. Get them on the phone. Ask for a personalized demo. Make sure they provide knowledgeable answers to your questions. Ask who you’ll be working with post-purchase. After speaking to a vendor, you should feel confident that they understand your project and your needs. Your experience with pre-sales support will reveal the company’s culture and frequently indicates the level of service you’ll receive throughout the course of your working relationship.
Step 6: Customization and Integration Choices
Most LMS systems can be custom configured to reflect your brand. Normally this will be limited to color schemes, logos and home page layout.
Some LMS will include a full featured web content management system that can be used to build a professional website around your Learning Management System. The more you desire to highlight your brand and customize your Learner's experience, the more you should consider web content management tools. The Accord LMS for example, is fully integrated with the DNN Content Management System for no additional cost.
If you have special integration requirements, such as an HRIS or SAML 2.0 single sign on, this is the appropriate time to evaluate any technical requirements and limitations.
Step 7: Pricing
Studies have shown that spending more money for an LMS does not directly correlate into a better product or greater satisfaction. Pricing may be effected by any of the following:
- Learner Count - can vary from user account or login to actual learning engagement.
- Active Learner Pricing - users who are currently taking managed courses within a given time frame.
- Administrators – some systems will limit the number of allowable system administrators based on your pricing structure.
- Features - Find out what is included in the standard feature set. Will you need to pay extra for enterprise features?
Discuss how your learners will be using your system and negotiate the best pricing model that a vendor offers for your company’s needs. Accord offers a transparent pricing model. You can see current prices here and review our flexible pricing model details here.
Step 8: How Important are Reports?
For many organizations, the ability to easily and effectively create user reports will be crucial. A quality LMS should provide all the information necessary to evaluate your training programs.
Can reports be automatically delivered to supervisors so that proper compliance can be verified? Can utilization reports be customized and segmented by Teams? Can reports be exported via PDF, Excel or CSV?
Step 9: Take a Test Learn
Once you’ve identified some top contenders, ask your preferred vendor for a free evaluation period. Ensure this learning management system vendor provides adequate pre-sales training.
Avoid the common mistake of getting setup with an evaluation site and then not taking the time to actually user test. Load sample courses and make sure that everything works as promised. This will be the time to discover any issues with any content, UI or integrations. Discuss any issues with the vendor. You will be testing, not only the evaluation site, but also how timely and effective the vendor responds to support inquiries.
Step 10: Review Implementation Strategy
Implementing an LMS is a process requiring a number of interdependent tasks. There will be both in-house tasks and tasks the vendor will need to take care of. Some tasks may require that certain prerequisites are completed. For example, if your vendor offers a data migration service from another system, they will be unable to perform this task until provided with all the necessary data. Talk to your vendor; what kind of LMS implementation management do they offer? What kinds of tools do they utilize in order to make the process easy?
You can have a new Accord LMS Soon!
Industry reports suggest that the average amount of time that it takes most organizations to select a Learning Management System ranges from two to six months. Taking a little more time on the front end to ensure things will be managed properly can save a lot of time and frustration on the back end. If you review each of the steps above, you will be well on your way to selecting the best LMS and LMS vendor to meet your needs; both now and in the future.
Accord LMS offers powerful features, implementation management and excellent support, all at a very affordable price. Please contact our Sales Team for more information.