The secret to selecting the best LMS vendor for your organisation

Reading time: 8m

AuthorNatalie Ann HolborowDigital Content Specialist
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Reading Time8 minutes
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You’ve asked the right questions, consulted with stakeholders and written up a definitive list of key challenges you want your learning technology to address.

Surely selecting the right LMS vendor should be easy from this point.

However, step into any learning events exhibition hall or perform a quick Google search and you’ll soon find yourself overwhelmed with too many choices. It’s enough to hide behind the stand of free tote bags or click ‘close’ on your device tab, promising yourself you’ll deal with it another time.

However, unless you stop thinking of features first, that time will never come. Forget everything you’ve been led to believe about jazzy features and disruptive technologies.

The secret is learning first.

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Put learning first and technology second

It’s all too easy to get drawn in by those companies with marketing departments who know how to shout the loudest about flashy features and staggering promises. However, it’s important to remember that your choice should be driven by thinking that puts learning first and technology second.

In other words, the technology should be the enabler for effective learning and pedagogy.

Success in digital transformation is bigger than the learning system and you should be looking for a learning partner who has expertise in both digital transformation and L&D. Software requirements should be borne out of the challenges the organisation is looking to solve.

Keep this one question in mind when dealing with different vendors: “How can your team and product help me achieve my organisational goals?

You’ll need to have prepared your list of requirements linked to organisational goals and needs – however, if you need a hand we have a free expert guide that takes you right through the buying process and makes it simple.

This will ensure you’re able to link your organisation’s unique needs with the solutions vendors can offer.

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Consider the feature set carefully

If one of your first engagements with a vendor is a long and impressive-sounding list of features, then you’ll simply end up letting the tail wag the dog, so to speak. Remember, unless you can get people to engage with the learning, the feature set is largely irrelevant.

Vendors are sometimes geared to have all of the ‘popular’ features to tick procurement boxes, but this is meaningless without a focus on how usable the system is for end users, and without the expertise to advise on the best application of digital pedagogy.

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Say, for example, you are an L&D manager at a well-known retail outlet. One of the main challenges for your organisation is the high rate of staff attrition, with the aim of reducing this by 50% this year. To remedy this, your managers want to create more opportunities for career development through training. For this to be a success, you will need a learning system that provides a central repository for learning content, which can be easily organised for relevance. You will also need the training to be engaging, and for admins and managers to be able to track learner progress. Detailed learner reports, organisational roles, and digital badges to reward and encourage learning activity can all be of benefit for the specific needs and challenges you are looking to resolve.

Make your links between key challenges and the required feature set – and stick to it (no matter how much a vendor tries to convince you that you need every one of those shiny extra add-ons).

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Great digital transformation requires great customer support

While it’s important to select the right features and meet the right budget, don’t overlook the importance of great customer support when exploring options for vendors.

Your unique set of challenges should be addressed by the product and the people from your vendor of choice. They should be working with you towards your vision of success in digital transformation, every step of the way.

Don’t be afraid to ask the following:

  • “Who is my Customer Success Manager?”
  • “Who can I contact on the Customer Support team?”
  • “Who will be assisting me with onboarding?”
  • “What are your hours of support?”
  • “What is the average response time?”
  • “Which channels of communication do you use?”

Don’t forget to do your research via reviews or asking about customer satisfaction results.

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Consider scalability, security and reliability of the learning system

Sometimes, there may be situations which require operations to scale up rapidly at short notice. You may need to accommodate far more learners to meet demand, and it’s important to consider how your learning system will cope should the situation ever arise.

You’ll no doubt want assurance that your vendor has a robust system in place for data protection. Your learning system will contain sensitive information, user data and other content that will need to be kept private and secure.

Ask your potential vendor:

  • “How do you store the data?”
  • “What is the average downtime?”
  • “What recovery plans do you have in place?”
  • “Can you quickly scale up operations if required?”

Next, you’ll need to consider whether you want to go cloud-based or self-hosted. While both options have their unique sets of benefits, you’ll need to carefully consider which one best fits your needs.

  • Cloud-based - This is a good option for organisations that need a scalable learning system without the work and costs involved with installing and managing hardware. This is all handled by the vendor. As your organisation grows, your learning system will be able to grow with it.
  • Self-hosted - If your organisation has network limitations or a strict architecture for the learning platform, this option is probably best to accommodate your requirements. Bear in mind that you’ll need to ensure you have the resource and capabilities within your in-house team to manage a self-hosted solution.

In summary...

By now, you should hopefully be feeling far more confident in approaching vendors and asking the right questions. Selecting the right learning system and integrating a more blended approach paves the way for learning that’s personalised, collaborative, accessible and trackable – and can save your organisation both time and money in the long-run.

Do your research. Ask questions. Try the products first-hand.

The more you ask and explore, the more apparent the perfect choice will become.

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