The key questions any L&D manager should ask before buying a learning system

Reading time: 6m

AuthorNick DaviesChief Commercial Officer (CCO)
Date
Reading Time6 minutes
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Sourcing the right learning system for your organisation is no easy task.

With so many options, all using different terms and touting different features, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by a dizzying array of flashy features, disruptive technologies and huge promises.

Your learning system is a strategic investment – and while the right choice can help you upskill your workforce and provide an impressive return on investment (in fact, 72% of organisations report gaining a competitive advantage through use of a learning management system), the potential losses incurred by getting it wrong can weigh heavily on any L&D manager’s shoulders.

It’s no wonder you’re feeling the pressure.

However, by asking the right questions and gaining a full understanding of your organisation’s unique requirements, you can begin to uncover the right choices for you.

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1. “LMS vs LXP: which one is right?”

Before investing in learning technologies, it can be a real headache trying to work out which one is best. Is the traditional learning management system (LMS) essential or outdated? Is the learning experience platform (LXP) the learning technology of the future or no more than just the latest technological fad?

If you’re unsure of what each technology does, take a look at our blog post designed to give you a comprehensive overview of what they are and how they compare.

In essence, the key difference between the LMS and LXP is that the LXP is designed with learning experience in mind, whereas the LMS is based upon formal learning management such as compliance training.

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New, integrated learning systems such as Thinqi now allow you to do both, which is helpful if your requirements cover both options.

It’s not the case that one form of learning technology is definitively better than the other – instead, you need to find the right solution that meets the unique needs, aims and budget of your organisation.

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2. “What challenges can I expect a learning system to solve for me?”

Without being clear on the organisational goals you want your learning system to help you achieve, it’s going to be near-impossible for you to convince stakeholders or fully consider the pros and cons of different options according to your unique organisational objectives.

Ensure everyone is clear on your objectives and start by going beyond your department, ensuring you’re speaking the language of each of your stakeholders. Gather feedback from learners, stakeholders and any other relevant people.

After all, in high-performing organisations, success is a team effort.

Next, create a list of requirements aligned to the aims of your organisation. Your organisational objectives will help you decide what you need the technology to do. The right vendor will have the right analytics and the right customer success support to align the learning to tangible outputs. For example, your organisational aims could be as follows:

  • Increase percentage of staff retention
  • Increase percentage of customer retention
  • Improve percentage of sales growth

Remember: your technology will serve as a tool to help you achieve success and should not be looked to as the overall solution.

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3. “What are the challenges of my stakeholders?”

While stakeholder collaboration is an essential skill for any L&D professional, and you'll most certainly want to align your plan with the overall needs of the business, just asking your stakeholders to research their top requirements risks ‘groupthink’ occurring.

Your approach shouldn’t ask stakeholders to prescribe the solutions, but to represent their challenges. You can add these challenges to your list of requirements to further help find the most tailored solutions.

Different stakeholders will have different challenges. For example, your business leaders might want to see return on investment and greater clarity on business succession planning. Your IT department might want to know about potential challenges they might face when implementing the learning system and whether specialist training will be required.

Of course, you can’t consider your list of challenges complete without considering those faced by the people who will be using the system for their own learning.

What do modern learners need from a digital learning experience? They may want learning that’s accessible and trackable in terms of progress. They may also want the learning system to surface learning content that’s personalised to their own development.

Getting the bigger picture on stakeholder challenges will help you find the most suitable fit.

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4. “How can technology support a more modern blended learning approach?”

Organisations are now adopting a more integrated learning approach which blends training courses with workplace-based, informal learning.

Think about your own list of priorities when it comes to the skills you most want to develop in your organisation. What are your top five?

For example, a survey by Towards Maturity has revealed that 75% of organisations now consider ‘facilitating collaboration’ as the L&D skill they most want to develop.

Are you one of this 75% who want to bring people together on their learning journeys? Often, working through topics with others can provide fresh ideas and perspectives. If so, what will you need to achieve it? Some key factors might include:

  • Coaching for employees to become more independent
  • Tools that enable collaboration (this is where an effective learning system such as Thinqi can really work)
  • Learning that’s measurable in order to inform the curriculum
  • L&D managers who can drive learner engagement
  • Greater use of informal content libraries

Always keep your priorities and goals in mind to ensure the features you choose have a clear role in helping you achieve success.

In summary…

Knowing what questions to ask before engaging with vendors will help you condense your choices to those that align with your objectives and budget. Remember: every organisation will have different requirements and there’s no one-size-fits all when it comes to selecting the right learning system.

Still need more guidance? We’ve put together the ultimate guide to sourcing a learning system for you to download for free: your go-to resource for every step of the process.

Now ask away.

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