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How to Choose an LMS System: 6 Steps to Consider

4 April, 2023
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Are you contemplating the selection of an LMS to enhance workplace learning and productivity? If so, you are not alone, as 72% of global organizations consider learning management systems to be a competitive advantage. The benefits of online learning are too significant to disregard, but this field is continuously evolving to meet the changing needs of users. Therefore, before selecting your next LMS, you should be aware of these trends.

It's no secret that numerous learning management system providers are available, and the process of selecting a new LMS can quickly become confusing. Should you choose the cheapest option? The one with the most reviews? Or the one everyone else is selecting? What qualities make a good learning management system?

To assist you in making this decision, you must take the time to answer critical questions. With this in mind, we have prepared a guide on how to choose an LMS system.

Why You Need an LMS

The primary objective of implementing an LMS is to simplify eLearning delivery and management within your organization. The aim is to streamline the training experience for all parties involved, including managers, instructors, and users who are enrolled in the training courses.

By utilizing an LMS, eLearning content can be delivered in real-time or on-demand. On-demand learning, also known as self-paced learning, entails users accessing training materials such as videos, PDFs, and tests at their convenience. Live learning, on the other hand, involves instructors being present during the training session in real-time.

LMS software automates time-consuming tasks using built-in features and third-party integrations, enabling your organization to train employees, customers, partners, and other stakeholders more efficiently.

LMS Types

When considering the type of learning management system your organization requires, the first step is to gain familiarity with the two main categories of LMS. Below we'll describe both types of learning management systems.

Cloud-based/SaaS

A cloud-based LMS is a web-based learning management system that is hosted and backed up on the cloud. This means that learners who are enrolled in the platform do not need to install any software or hardware. Cloud-based LMS platforms are typically created and offered by LMS providers. One significant advantage of working with a SaaS provider is that you can develop training programs without having to construct your own LMS. Furthermore, when partnering with such a provider, your system is hosted and backed up for you, and you have access to a technical support team.

Open Source/Self-hosted

Open-source systems are software applications that you can download from a third-party and install on your own server. One immediate advantage of open-source software is the ability to customize it according to your specific training requirements. However, customizing an Open Source LMS can be a challenging task, requiring technical expertise.

If you lack the necessary technical skills to develop and customize software, it is advisable to work with a SaaS provider. Although most SaaS LMS companies do not provide customization options, DrivEd LMS offers this feature.

Common LMS Use-Cases

Safety and Compliance Training

One of the most common use-cases for a Learning Management System (LMS) is to provide safety and compliance training to employees. With an LMS, organizations can easily create and deliver training content on topics such as workplace safety, harassment prevention, and data privacy. The LMS also enables companies to track employee progress and ensure that everyone completes the required training.

Continuing Education and License Maintenance

Another important use-case for an LMS in our guide on how to choose the right LMS is to provide continuing education and license maintenance online  courses for professionals in various industries. Whether it's healthcare, finance, or engineering, professionals are often required to complete continuing education courses to maintain their licenses. An LMS makes it easy for organizations to create and deliver these courses, and for professionals to track their progress and receive certification.

Training Employees 

An LMS is also commonly used for employee training, whether it's onboarding new hires or providing ongoing corporate training for existing employees. With an LMS, organizations can create and deliver training content on a wide range of topics, from soft skills like communication and teamwork to job-specific skills like software proficiency or sales techniques. By using an LMS, organizations can ensure that their employees have the skills and knowledge needed to be successful in their roles.

Improving Customer Learning Experiences

An LMS can also be used to improve customer experiences by providing training to customer-facing employees such as sales associates or customer service representatives. With an LMS, these employees can receive training on topics such as customer service skills, product knowledge, and communication strategies. By providing this training, organizations can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Training Partners 

An LMS can also be used to provide training to partners such as vendors, suppliers, or contractors. By using an LMS, organizations can ensure that their partners have the knowledge and skills needed to effectively collaborate and work together. This can help to improve overall efficiency and productivity across the entire supply chain.

HR and Onboarding 

Finally, an LMS can be used to streamline HR processes and make onboarding new hires more efficient. By using an LMS, organizations can create and deliver onboarding content, track employee progress, and automate tasks such as filling out forms and completing training modules. This can help to ensure that new hires are onboarded quickly and efficiently, allowing them to start contributing to the organization as soon as possible.

Picking the Best LMS Platform in 6 Steps

1) List your requirements

When selecting the best LMS platform for your organization, it is essential to identify your specific LMS requirements. Here are some key considerations to help you make informed decisions:

What is the audience demographics?

Before selecting an LMS, it is vital to determine who your target audience is. Are you training employees, customers, partners, or a combination of these groups? The answer to this question will significantly impact the features you need from an LMS.

How large is the audience you are training?

Consider the number of users who will be utilizing the LMS. This will help you identify the scalability requirements and ensure that the LMS you choose can handle your current and future needs.

Content accessibility (mobile-friendly or only works on desktop)

Determine whether the LMS platform you are considering is mobile-friendly. In today's fast-paced world, learners often prefer to access content on their mobile devices. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that your LMS platform can deliver content on any device.

Cost

Identify your budget for an LMS platform. Consider the upfront costs, ongoing maintenance license fee, and potential hidden costs associated with the platform. Make sure you check the pricing options before implementing LMS.

Time and Effort for Implementation

Think about the time and effort required to implement and launch the LMS platform. This includes tasks such as data migration, platform customization, and user training. It is crucial to find an LMS platform that can be implemented with minimal disruption to your organization.

2) Define LMS technical specifications

When choosing the right LMS, it's important to define the technical specifications that you need. Here are some key areas to consider:

Reporting learner progress in the learning management system

One of the main advantages of using an LMS solution is the ability to track learner progress. Make sure the system you choose has the LMS reporting capabilities you need, such as progress tracking, completion rates, and assessment results.

User management

User management is another important aspect to consider when selecting an LMS. You'll want to make sure the system allows you to create and manage user accounts, assign roles and permissions, and import user data from other systems.

On-demand training (asynchronous) vs webinars (synchronous)

Decide if you need an LMS that supports both asynchronous (on-demand) training and synchronous (live) webinars. If you plan on offering both, make sure the LMS supports them in a way that is easy for learners to access and use.

Enrollment options

Consider how you want learners to enroll in courses choosing a learning management system. Do you want to manually enroll learners or allow them to self-enroll? Do you want to create enrollment rules, such as requiring learners to complete certain courses before accessing others?

Content

Consider the types of content you want to deliver in your LMS. Do you need support for video, audio, or interactive content? Will you be creating your own content or using third-party content providers?

Technical support team

Make sure the LMS provider offers technical support that meets your needs. Do you need 24/7 support or is regular business hours sufficient? Will you need support in multiple languages?

Security

Security is an important consideration when choosing an LMS. Look for systems that offer data encryption, secure user authentication, and other security features that meet your organization's standards.

Customization

Consider how much customization you need in your LMS. Do you want to be able to fully customize the look and feel of the learning platform, or are you okay with using pre-built templates? Make sure the LMS you choose offers the level of customization you need.

3) List out the additional features your LMS needs

Integrations

Do you require your LMS platform to integrate with third-party tools like HubSpot or Google Analytics? What about a webinar tool? Integrations help you provide a seamless training experience to your employees and customers by connecting your platform with familiar business tools.

Customer portals

Is your LMS intended to train employees, or are you searching for a platform to onboard and train various businesses? If you are in the latter category, you require a feature called portals. Customer portals enable you to create separate training portals for each business or group of users you are training. Additionally, since each customer manages their own portal, you can scale as you grow.

White-label

If you use a white-label LMS, you can conceal vendor ties and link your logo and brand colors, and customize other design elements in the platform to enhance the value of training. How critical is it to visually brand your LMS? With Academy Of Mine, you can change theme and text colors, use your domain, attach a logo and favicon, build new pages, customize menus and text throughout the platform, and more!

Customization

To keep it simple, most SaaS LMS companies that sell you a cloud-based platform and handle hosting for you do not provide customization. They may offer features in the platform that allow you to adjust some colors and make basic adjustments, but that's all. Open-source platforms like Moodle are intended to be customized and tailored to your specific needs. However, with this type of platform, you will be responsible not only for self-hosting but also for the programming and coding involved in any customizations.

Moreover, any code you write that fails will be your responsibility to manually go through forums to try and fix it. Ironically, our LMS is the best of both worlds because it's cloud-based, we host it for you, and we offer customizations created by our expert team of developers. This is one of the reasons why our customers love us!

Certificate builder

Offering certifications to learners who complete a training course is critical, even when a program is not accredited. If you want to offer certifications in the LMS, do you need to be able to design them on the platform or upload designs created outside of the platform? Our LMS allows you to do both!

Time-based tracking of learners enrolled in courses

Time-based tracking allows you to monitor closely how long learners are spending inside of a course or the modules that make up a course (seconds, minutes, hours, etc.). Going hand in hand with this feature is the ability to prevent learners from skipping ahead in a course. If you are offering compliance training or any type of accredited course, this feature may be a priority!

4) Explore the Market

Before committing to an LMS vendor, it’s important to explore the market and compare available options. A simple Google search will give you a list of vendors and platforms that you can explore. Look for LMS platforms that cater to your industry and meet your specific needs. Consider factors such as well defined pricing model, features, customer support, user reviews, and ratings.

5) Evaluate LMS Vendors

Once you’ve narrowed down your options, it’s time to evaluate LMS vendors. Here are a few steps to follow:

Browse through vendors' websites

Check out the vendor’s website and read about their features and services. Look for information on their pricing plans, implementation timeframe, and customer support.Besides, you can check testimonials and portfolio. 

Test the learning management system

Ask for a trial or demo of the LMS to test out its features and functionalities. Try to simulate a real-life use case scenario and evaluate how the platform handles it. Look for features that are important to you and your organization, such as reporting analytics, content management, and user management.

Ask for a use case demonstration

Ask the vendor to demonstrate how their LMS works with a use case that’s similar to your organization’s needs. This will help you understand how the platform can help you achieve your training goals and whether it’s a good fit for your organization. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and clarify any doubts or concerns you may have.

By following these steps, you can ensure that you choose an LMS vendor that meets your specific requirements and provides the best value for your investment.

6) Choose an LMS

Collaborate with your team and external stakeholders to create a list of potential LMS options. 

  1. Determine whether you prefer an open-source platform or a SaaS LMS provider that handles most technical aspects for you. 
  2. Compile a list of the fundamental requirements for your training programs, and follow the steps outlined in this guide to narrow down your options further. 
  3. Begin by assessing the technical specifications, then explore additional features that may benefit your training programs. 

If you found this article beneficial and are considering a cloud-based LMS, we suggest contacting our team to determine whether DrivEd LMS is suitable for your needs.

Final Thoughts

To avoid common LMS selection mistakes, it's crucial to have a clear understanding of your requirements upfront and know tips on how to choose an LMS. While it's important to consider engaging your learners, don't let flashy gimmicks distract you. 

At DrivEd LMS, we prioritize learner engagement with features like gamification, social learning, and customization. 

If you want to learn more about selecting the best LMS for your business, our learning technology experts are here to help. You can even take a free trial of DrivEd LMS by booking a demo!

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