How to Select an LMS in 2021: Your Step-by-step Guide

An LMS is only as good as the learning design, technology, and methodology for delivery that governs it — take this statement from the experts. Installing an LMS alone does not mean the job is done. Deploying and managing a Learning Management System is a long-term, iterative process. Even after the successful launch of an LMS, it is very likely that you will receive negative feedback and complaints from your employees. And our trends outlined below stand proof of our claims.

A Deloitte report suggests: “Few areas of the HR technology landscape are as established, fragmented and filled with customer dissatisfaction as the learning management systems (LMS) market.” Again, according to a survey by the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), the number of respondents who were very unsatisfied with an LMS purchase doubled; the number of those who were very satisfied decreased by 25 per centOracle.

So, what’s the way out? Especially if your employees are less than satisfied with your LMS. There is no point stretching with outdated software. The best way out is to consider a system change. Now, since we are in 2021, it’s better to go for a complete overhaul — so that your new LMS is at par with the needs of the modern workforce.

But why the stress on 2021 here? Well, following the pandemic, corporates have understood that remote working has so many benefits. In fact, after the COVID-19 crisis, “90 percent of employees believe that flexibility in their work arrangements helps improve their morale.” Now, when you consider remote workplace models, you also need to focus on virtually training your workforce. So, this is when the need for the perfect LMS rises.

And we step in right here. In the following sections, we have outlined a detailed step-by-step plan that will help you to select an LMS that best suits all your requirements.

How to Select an LMS in 2021: Your Five-Step Guidebook

1. Identify Your Exact Requirements

The market is packed with so many eLearning platforms that it becomes an overwhelming task to select an LMS most of the time. Therefore, you need to chalk out well-defined search criteria. You must be sure of what you need from your LMS. What are your end goals and business objectives? What do you want to achieve with the help of eLearning? You must ensure that your end goals are specific, measurable, achievable, and time-limited.

Another way to approach this is to break bigger goals into smaller tasks. In other words, create a realistic project roadmap. For instance, suppose your end objective is to cut down a marketing certification course from three months to one month. So, how do you go about it? Breakdown the goal into objectives — educate your employees about the basic marketing strategies; train them on efficient marketing techniques; gauge their learning after the training; and finally, put the acquired knowledge to the test in practical applications.

2. Understand Your Audience

When you select an LMS, you must first understand the profile of learners who will undergo training. Now, how can you do that? First up — gauge the age distribution of your employees. Usually, the workforce is a mix of Generations X, Y, and Z. Now, if most of the employees are millennials, they will prefer training modules that are interactive, gamified, or segmented into manageable micro-chunks. They might also want to engage in discussions on social media platforms. Therefore, select an LMS that contains all these features.

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Next, you can see if your employees have varied skill levels — i.e. if they are a mix of newcomers and experienced employees. In this case, your LMS might need to have different learning paths and an amalgamation of several course materials. On the other hand, your staff may be a mix of tech-savvy learners, digital veterans, and traditional learners for whom the LMS needs to be agile and user-friendly.

Finally, note the educational modes preferred by your employees. Are they more prone to using mobile phones? If yes, then you might need to select a mobile-friendly LMS. Also, estimate the number of employees you are going to train. If your business is large, you may need a system with mass user registration features. Make sure your system will scale as needed.

3. Define Your LMS Requirements & Explore the Market

After you have clarity on the learning goals, objectives, and audience demographics, you need to concentrate on the LMS requirements list. Once that’s done, you already know about your LMS features and the price range. Therefore, the next step is to narrow the hundreds of choices down to a brief list of solutions. You can start by asking your peers about the types of LMS they use. View ratings and LMS user reviews. Many reputed websites give you the option to compare LMS services.

Now that you have a first-cut list dig deeper, and analyse the features of each LMS. Check the vendor pages and see the LMS descriptions — do they have all the features you want? Pay close attention to the vendor — how long has he been in the market? Who are their customers? It’s always great if the company or its products have won any awards. Also, read reviews and success stories from the clients who have used their services. Finally, scour their website for resources like product documentation, how-to articles, and video tutorials. Additionally, ensure that the vendor you choose has the option to offer adequate tech support.

4. Test the LMS

You should not deploy any software unless you have tested it once. Demos are crucial to gauge if the LMS is the one you need to meet all your end goals. Most Learning Management Platforms offer free trials, usually for two weeks. During this span, you have the option to try out all the features. For instance, recreate a few scenarios that you and your users will most likely experience in the system, so you can see precisely how those scenarios will play out.

Make sure the LMS has all the features you need and check how they work. Load the system as much as possible. Upload different types of materials in various sizes and formats that you expect to use in the future. Locate the services provided by tech support and ensure that you contact the team and gauge their response efficiency. Additionally, request your vendor to hold a use case demonstration for you — where you can ask these questions: how much does the LMS cost? How agile is the LMS? Can you customise it? How scalable is the LMS? What are the measures for user data protection?

5. Select an LMS

If you have finalised on the last three LMSs, you might still face difficulties picking the right one. In this case, the words of Ravikumar Ramamurthy, Lead LMS Consultant from IBM, comes in handy: “To settle on a product, make a list of your requirements, including the number of learners, and send it to the vendors. LMS user-friendliness, features, availability in the cloud or not, implementation timeframe, support, and maintenance, final license cost — all of these play a crucial role in identifying the right LMS. Compare the responses and select the vendor whose terms suit you best.”

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Corporate Learning Advisor

Anisha Dutta, our Corporate Learning Advisor, holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and did her master's from IIM Udaipur and Purdue University. She loves working on pieces that require deep research and foresight. Apart from that, she is a voracious reader. Movies, music, and tv shows are the next addiction. Otherwise, she also happens to be an avid traveler, a poet, and an animal lover.

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