It’s always a good idea to identify and define your needs before you begin searching for solutions. The first step should involve gathering data from discussions or focus groups with key representatives from Management, the Learning and Development (L&D) managers, the IT team, HR, end-users and anyone else that needs to be a part of the discussion.
Each stakeholder has valuable input to share. Company leadership may help provide context by sharing the strategic direction of the company in the short- and mid-term. L&D managers will have insight on the usability of the platform, how easily content can be managed and assessed. IT professionals can define requirements on accessibility and security. End users can give you insights on what kinds of features they prefer.
If you’re deciding on a new LMS to replace an existing one, it’s vital to get feedback on the current LMS as well. Find out what worked and what didn’t. This will form a sound basis for selecting the next – hopefully better – LMS for your organization.
After getting insights from your needs analysis and focus group discussions the next step is to list down your absolute requirements. Include your must-have features and prioritize your organizations’ needs for training operations, content, accessibility, UX, and security. It may be tempting to add every feature that comes to mind to your list, but don’t give in. Rank and prioritize your “must-have’s” according to the problems that are most urgent and important to address.
Once you’ve identified your non-negotiables, it’s time to research various LMS platforms. Visit vendor’s websites to get a sense of their product lines and solutions, but make sure to look far beyond just what a company puts on their website. Is the company financially sound? How long have they been around? How many clients do they have?
Talking directly to customers that are using the platform may be tricky at this point, but you should be able to find a few resources while doing your own research. For instance, established vendors should have a presence on review sites like Capterra such as EduBrite. That’s usually a good starting point to find out what others are saying about the platform.
At this point, reach out to promising vendors to set up initial calls or create an RFI. You’ll be able to share detailed information about your needs and your list of must-have features. These conversations can not only help you understand if their LMS can meet your needs now, but also if that LMS can grow with you over time.
With your team of stakeholders, select the top 1 or 2 contenders and make a plan to test them in action. Identify the team who will be a part of the pilot, including users and administrators. Build a realistic schedule that provides plenty of time for people to explore the system, learn more about how to use it, and compile their feedback.
Throughout the pilot, find ways to get input and data from your users and administrators. Don’t wait until the end, check in often to see what help they may need to be able to fully explore the platform’s capabilities. Keep in touch with the LMS vendor as well. They can help answer questions, troubleshoot, and make sure that you aren’t missing out any valuable features to test.
After going through these steps, you should feel pretty confident in choosing your vendor. You’ve taken the time to identify your top needs, research options, and test out solutions. This story, however, doesn’t end with picking “The One.”
It doesn’t matter which LMS you choose, if you don’t have a plan to implement and drive adoption. Training and development is a continuous process with room for improvement and adjustments. To make sure that the chosen LMS is successful and provides value, track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) like training completion and learner progress. Measure the performance of the platform against these KPIs periodically.
Taking time to pick the right LMS for your organization is a process that has the potential to save your organization time and money for years to come. By making sure to first identify users’ needs and then choosing the LMS that meets those needs, you’ll set yourself up for success.