Do I need a learning management system or talent management system?

AuthorNick DaviesChief Commercial Officer (CCO)

Ever wondered whether you need a talent management system (TMS) or a learning management system (LMS)? Does investing in one mean missing out on vital components of the other?

In a new, hybrid world of work, talent management has moved higher on the agenda as it becomes increasingly challenging to find and retain the best people. No longer does talent development sit purely in the remit of the HR department – it’s now crucial that learning is a core enabler for the overall strategy.

However, this can make things confusing when it comes to selecting the right technology. Sourcing the right learning system is a significant investment in itself – so do we now also need to be thinking about a talent management system too?


“What type of learning management system do I need?”

Before you start despairing over your L&D budget, you need to first consider what type of functionality you need from both systems to meet your goals.

Let’s start with your learning system. It can be overwhelming having to decide between so many different options for learning systems, which is why we recommend using this useful free guide to help you make the right choice first time.

The two main types of learning system you’re most likely to encounter are the learning management system (LMS) and the learning experience platform (LXP). The key difference between the two is that the LXP focuses on putting the learning experience first (e.g. adaptive learning pathways, tracking informal learning, and collaborative spaces for peer discussion and coaching/mentoring), whereas the LMS is based upon learning management. Because remember, there will always be times when you do still need formal learning management. Formal compliance training isn’t going away anytime soon.

Today’s smarter, integrated systems like Thinqi pull together the best of the LMS and LXP so that you can successfully boost employee engagement beyond mandatory compliance training – all while still enabling you to measure and manage formal learning activities linked to your organisational goals.

But where does this leave you when it comes to developing your in-house talent? How can you identify your star performers, assign them to a personalised development pathway and create a robust succession plan?

This is where talent management systems come in.


“What is a talent management system and do I need one?”

A talent management system is an integrated software platform that the HR department uses to support talent management processes in the organisation. This includes:

  • Recruitment
  • Onboarding
  • Performance management
  • Professional development
  • Compensation management
  • Succession planning

A robust talent management system supports the entire talent lifecycle, from recruitment to succession planning, and automates arduous manual processes to create a more efficient and aligned strategy (good news for any stressed-out HR manager too).

It has benefits for employees too – by improving employee onboarding and formalising professional development, you’ll see far better engagement for both employees and managers. Investing in their development says clearly to your employees: “We care about your future.”

Talent management systems often have functionality for compliance training, 360 evaluations, skills and leadership development, as well as peer recognition and rewards. Identifying your ‘ready now’ and ‘ready soon’ talent in your organisation makes it clear to see where resources should be allocated for maximum return on investment.


“How can I make my budget stretch to both a learning system and a talent management system?”

Good news: today, you don’t have to.

In many organisations, talent management systems are within the scope of the HR function. However, as business leaders become increasingly focused on performance and capability outcomes, HR and L&D are looking for a more collaborative approach. The 2022 Linkedin Workplace Learning Report notes promisingly that learning leaders are breaking down traditional silos to collaborate on a more holistic vision for HR.

The trends in learning technologies functionality reflect the increased demand for joined-up talent management processes between the business, HR and L&D. Fosway’s research sheds light on how this wider, talent-oriented view is becoming “a consistent feature of organisations’ buying decisions behind their LMS and other learning systems.”

This means you now have the option of selecting a learning system that has all you need for talent management and succession planning as part of its core functionality.

Say, for example, you’re struggling to recruit leadership talent in your organisation. You’ve held multiple interviews with candidates, but they turn out to be an unsuitable fit or end up taking another offer elsewhere. Your organisation now wants to look to its internal talent as part of its succession planning.

To do this, you need to identify and map existing leadership roles and identify what core competencies are needed for your internal talent to step into these roles.

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First, you would create a competency profile, outlining the knowledge, skills and attributes people need to carry out their role effectively. This is a good way for employees to see what kind of behaviours your organisation values and to evaluate their own current competencies against what they need to work towards. Remember, the competencies you create need to be relevant or your employees will have difficulty seeing why these competencies are required and how they can be applied. It helps to involve HR and others who are already in similar roles.

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So now you’ve got your competency profiles for your leadership roles sorted. Great! Now you need to start looking at success profiles. Think about which competencies each of your leadership roles need. This will be your key to identifying gaps and helping your people move towards the role they aspire to. You could start a pilot project by taking one role you wish to fill and seeing how many people are close to this profile. You can then nurture this talent pool to bring them to a state of readiness to fulfil that role. Giving a clear path for development and a guide for reaching the next step is key for staff motivation and retention.

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Okay, nearly there. Now, using reporting tools, it’s time to run reports across the organisation against the success profiles you’ve created. This will help you identify who is ‘ready now’ (i.e. fulfils all the required competencies) or ‘ready soon’ (i.e. fulfils many of the required competencies, but not all). This is key for determining how healthy your succession pipeline is and how soon you can fill critical roles from within your current workforce.

Finally, you can link any missing competencies to personalised programmes of learning to help fill the gaps. This might include workshops, mentoring or a blended learning experience where the learning outcome is to address that specific competency.

The great news is that all of the above is brought together in one powerful system with Thinqi’s smarter learning system, meaning you no longer have to separate talent management from learning. This is about breaking down traditional silos and joining up processes to create a workforce ready for anything the future holds.

In summary…

By using learning systems that incorporate talent management functionality and powerful reporting capabilities, your organisation can easily plan, measure, prove and plan to ensure the business achieves both short0term and longer-term talent goals. Digital workflows mean many time-consuming and manual processes are also streamlined and automated for greater efficiency, allowing both you in L&D and your HR personnel to focus on your most pressing tasks.

The result for your workforce?

Knowledgeable and loyal employees whose ambitions are nurtured and who are motivated to stay and grow.

That’s smart.

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