Choosing a Learning Management System for Training and Development

By Elaine Biech

Learning management systems (LMS) maintain a record of all training and development activities. The two primary types of LMS programs for purchase usually base pricing either on how many learners you have or how much content you have.

If you have 1,000 learners with only a ten-minute video to watch and track, you would want to pursue an LMS that charges by how much content you post, not by how many logins are recorded. The converse is also true, if you have a five-person team who must go through numerous programs, you may want to pay per learner.

Generally, your IT department will play a key role in which LMS to purchase, but your learning and development department and others need to be involved, so it should be a joint decision. Before deciding, consider several features that will be critical for your organization:

  • Customer support: Will the LMS vendor’s tech support help set it up and ensure you can administer it throughout the life of your contract, or do you have an IT team who will assist you?

  • Learning product support: Some LMSes offer free or add on materials with the contract, but you must use their proprietary program to develop and deliver your content. It is easier, but if you think you may want to leverage other e-learning development tools, it may not be the right one.

  • Tracking tools: Remember, this is the primary value of the LMS, so be sure your choice does what you need. Does it allow test-recording options, tracking on time and success of learners while reviewing the training? Can it provide metrics to support continuous learning to meet performance expectations? What reports will be required to meet compliance and audit requests?

  • Long-term training goals: Do you see your LMS as a way to prove ROI for your training or do you just want to check a box that all learners logged in? Do you need to maintain certain records for government or certification purposes? Will you need to run dashboard reports and review learner data to maintain your department’s budgets and ­purpose?

Your LMS can help you with many of the administrative challenges of data and learner tracking, but be sure you know what you want before you sign a contract. Most LMS companies will not only let you test drive their products, but allow you to “play in their virtual sandbox” to ensure you can use their products effectively before you buy.

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