“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” Benjamin Franklin wrote this over 250 years ago but it is as relevant in today’s time as it was in 1758. Organizations are increasingly prioritizing learning and development which is being received positively by their workforce. As per LinkedIn Learning Report, 94% of employees said they would stay at a company longer if they invest in their learning and development. However, creating a robust, scalable, and effective training system requires a lot of effort. A Learning Management System or LMS simplifies and automates the process of learning in your organization. 

There are numerous types of LMS but not every option is the right fit for you. Every organization has different sets of requirements and goals that need to be considered while choosing the right LMS. If you are a first-time buyer, here’s a comprehensive dos and don’ts LMS buyer guide to help you. 

LMS Buying Guide – The Dos 

Defining Goals 

Instead of jumping to the options, first, take a look at what you’re hoping to accomplish by implementing an LMS. Start by defining your short-term and long-term organizational goals; it is recommended to have at least 3 clearly defined goals before you start with the selection process. This will not only help you get more clarity but also help the LMS in drawing a realistic roadmap for your organization. 

Here are a couple of tips to help you narrow down your goals:

  • Meet with each department head and get an idea of what their key struggles are when training new hires for their department?

Ex: Takes too much time to get a new hire up to speed, they can’t retain all the information at once, etc.

  • How long does it take their new team members to ramp up and get started?

Ex: How can we reduce the hours that the team is spending to get new hires up to speed.

  • What type of skill sets would help their team and department perform better? Ex: Excel, presentation skills, taking initiative, etc.
  • Send surveys to your company for managers and general staff– what are they wanting to develop and improve on that will help them in their day-to-day roles? This will also allow you to get buy-in from the team across the company and show interest to your leadership team.

Outlining Challenges 

This is a critical step that most organizations miss out on while looking to buy a learning management system. Outlining your challenges is extremely important before making the selection because it allows you to gain insight into your functional requirements. If you have your goals defined, the challenges you face in reaching those goals are what form the base of your training structure. One of the primary challenges most organizations face is closing skill gaps. In fact, 99% of L&D professionals agree that increasing skill gaps are not only negatively impacting the growth of their organization but also affecting customer satisfaction, quality of service, and ability to innovate. 

Requirement Checklist 

After you have mapped your goals and challenges, the next step is to make a requirement checklist. This may include general requirements such as personalization and branding, or more sophisticated requirements such as tracking and reporting measures. Each of the requirements you outline must be discussed in detail with your LMS provider. 

While building out your requirement checklist you want to keep your audience in mind. Are your staff white collar vs blue collar? Is your workforce remote today or do we have more of a hybrid model? Are your staff across the globe or all in one region? All of these will impact your final selection as well. 

For example, if you have all of your staff working remotely you may want some sort of a social learning element built-in to build collaboration as they are taking courses through the system. You can also use it to help them know who is the subject matter expert for the different areas of the business.

Aligning L&D And HR Team 

Since implementing an LMS falls under your L&D and HR Team, it is vital to have them involved in the conversation. Each LMS requires admins from within the organization that facilitates training and development programs and knowing the skill level of your admins is essentially the most important aspect while looking at LMS options.  For instance, if you do not have a content creator for your training programs, you should opt for an LMS with an extensive content library. 

Factors to consider:

  • Who will be creating the content?
  • Is there one LMS champion internally from the HR/Training Department that will be administering the system?
  • How are managers involved in the program?

Focus On Leadership Development 

While your primary goals may not include leadership development, it is still an important aspect for boosting your organizational growth. 57% of L&D professionals highly prioritize leadership and soft skill development and as stated by Global Leadership Forecast, organizations with an inclusive leadership training program are 4.2 times more likely to outperform their competitors. While selecting an LMS, you must include leadership training and development in your goal bucket and that’s where pre-built content can be beneficial as a requirement of your selection process. This will only add a few manager-level courses to your training structure but go a long way in building a resilient and productive task force. 

You want to consider two main things while developing a leadership program. New Managers & Leaders require different skill sets versus Leaders who have been in the role for a while.

For example, New Leaders should possess some of the following Skills:

  • Delegation
  • Giving Feedback
  • Building Trust and Credibility

Experienced Leaders would require more of:

  • Strategic Thinking
  • Coaching Conversations
  • OKR/ Long Term or Strategic Goals

Check For Integration 

Before buying a learning management system, you must check if it’s compatible with the existing software that you may have. You want to make sure that the solution has Open API which means that the system can easily speak to other internal software. This is a two-way street. Although the LMS has Open API your internal software has to as well. The most common solution that your LMS should speak to is your HRIS System. 

The biggest benefits this integration will have for you:

  • Automation on users being added to your LMS 
  • If someone is inactive in your HRIS it will automatically reflect Auzmor Learn which will help reduce manual work
  • Set up some auto-assignments based on grouping of users

Ask For Live Demonstrations 

An efficient LMS can form the backbone of your organization; As per Finance Online, 72% of organizations reported gaining a competitive advantage after adopting an LMS. This makes it crucial for you to make an informed decision. If you’re looking for LMS options, it’s best to ask for live demonstrations since you’ll be able to check out all the primary features and their usability. A demo will also help you understand how scalable the LMS is and if it aligns with the goals of your organization.  While attending the demos ensure to have an internal spreadsheet of what are the key things that you are liking about each solution and where you think it will help your internal processes.

As a best practice, narrow down to 2-3 solutions max and do a final presentation with your team to get everyone’s feedback. Having everyone involved in the final process allows for more of a buy-in internally. This is not required for every organization but for companies above 1K employees, it tends to be a good practice.

It can also be hard to get everyone in the same room. Ask the providers to record the demos for you and share them with your team internally for them to easily watch in the comfort of their time.

Focusing on User Experience

User experience is what makes an LMS effective. The various components that make up the user experience are – accessibility, usability, and design. Let’s understand why each of these components needs to be considered before buying an LMS. 

  • Accessibility – An organization’s workforce is diverse in terms of age, location, skillset, etc. Implementing an LMS effectively will require you to make it compatible with each of your employees. For example, responsive screens that are fit for any device, easy navigation, multi-language courses, etc. 
  • Interactive – Having content that is engaging for your end-users such as adding questions between videos to break up the content, creating flashcards, or adding other widget elements for end-users to engage in the material helps you ensure that they are not just playing courseware and walking away but also engaging in what is presented.
  • Design – An LMS should offer human-centric design as opposed to traditional learning methods. The LMS should be designed from the viewpoint of a learner’s experience wherein the learners are focused on their courses, can easily register in the training they are interested in and admins can essentially handle the reporting and other managerial elements involved. Finding an LMS vendor with a learner-first approach is your best bet. 

Peer Feedback

While opting for any software solutions, it is always beneficial to talk to the vendor’s references and try to find out more about the platform or service, and an LMS is no different. Ask the vendor to introduce you to other HR or L&D individuals using their product. Understanding from a provider’s current clients about their experience will help you a lot in understanding what has worked for them. It will also help you determine strategies that work best while implementing it. For example, if you’re a manufacturing company, talking to peers from related industries like construction or logistics will give you a better insight into understanding the needs of your audience base and if the LMS you’re considering caters to those needs. Talking to people who have used the LMS for an extended period of time is also advisable as this will give you an idea as to how scalable the LMS is and if it’ll be the right fit for you. 

Questions to ask your reference: 

  • What other systems had they considered while purchasing their solution? Why did they choose the vendor they decided to move with?
  • What has support been like post-implementation?
  • What is something they would have done differently throughout their implementation process?
  • What has user feedback and experience been so far?

Ask About Support Services 

Support is a critical part of any software implementation and LMS is no exception. It’s important to understand support thoroughly for example:

  • Is support hours in line with your business hours? Is there any flexibility in hours?
  • Do you have a dedicated Customer Success Representative? What is their responsibility throughout and post-implementation? 
  • Is support an additional fee or does it come as a part of the packages outlined?
  • Any limitations to hours of support? 
  • How many hours of training do you get? Who all are the training sessions conducted for? Managers, administrators, general staff or is for a limited group.

LMS Buying Guide – The Don’ts

Not Communicating Your Objectives

If you invest blindly into an LMS without preparing a list of objectives, you’re not only wasting money but a lot of time and effort. If you have set up your goals, you must communicate your objectives clearly to the LMS vendor. This will help you in utilizing the LMS properly and your vendor will be in a better position to address your needs. 

Confusing Price With Value 

Learning and development is an essential part of an organization’s ecosystem. Now we all have budget constraints but we should never let price determine the value of a product or service. If you go on to choose the cheapest option available in the market, you may end up with multiple glitches, poor service, and not a great overall experience. Try to outline what you are getting for what you are paying. You can always look at starting with a smaller package and building up from there if needed.

Ignoring Compliance Policies

A training and development ecosystem is multifold; there are several kinds of training programs and they differ based on the industry we operate in. But, compliance training is an essential part of each organization. Educating your employees on company policies and related laws is the best way to keep compliance in check. While talking to LMS vendors, you must focus on courses they have for compliance policies and look at how engaging they are. Since 49% of employees agree to skip-reading the compliance training details, it becomes all the more important to build engaging and interactive training sessions. 

Not Involving Your IT Team 

Since an LMS is a software, your IT team should be involved in the process every step of the way. In fact, they should also be asked to join the demonstration calls to better understand the functioning of an LMS. It will be easier for you to get any roadblocks out early on in your buying journey so that the implementation process is as smooth as it can be. 

Legacy Products vs New Solutions

There are 100s of LMS solutions out in the market. Buyers sometimes confuse vendors being in the industry for 10+ years as a reason to purchase a solution from a specific provider. The technology industry is constantly evolving. You want to look for a company that is “forward-thinking”. 

The challenge with legacy products tends to be that they are not willing to change very much or may not be as open to your feedback as a company. This can become a conflict later in the partnership putting you right back to square one to have to search for a new LMS if they are not being flexible. Try to get a clear understanding of where the business is today, what is their vision, where do they want to be in the market, and where does that align with your business needs.

Investing in your first LMS can be a big uptaking. CLICK HERE for a FREE 30 Minute Consultation with one of Auzmor’s Product Experts to learn more about tips and tricks that can help you in your search for the best solution.

About Auzmor Learn: Auzmor is a leading provider in the LMS industry known for its modern and intuitive user experience, robust functionality, and advanced reporting capabilities. “Most Learning Management Systems (LMS) in the market take months and months to get trained and up to speed. I wanted to build a platform that is scalable for clients, engaging for employees, and helps clients achieve their end goals. Every one of Auzmor’s products are user-friendly and feels similar to using Facebook and LinkedIn.”  

– Darryl Jose, CEO of Auzmor, Inc.