You’ve taken the plunge and embraced technology with open arms. Your current LMS has helped you to deliver a number of eLearning courses company-wide. But you’re still feeling constrained, frustrated, disappointed by the results. The truth is, you’re just not convinced that your LMS meets all of the requirements.
Well, today there are over 1000 LMS providers. And this multibillion-dollar market is expected to grow by nearly 25 percent by the year 2020.
This kind of market magnitude means that you don’t need to settle. You have the luxury of choice, and the freedom to find the best LMS for business , your business.
Business Requirements for Learning Management Systems
The range of learning management systems has ballooned over the past few years, and there’s a simple reason , not every business has the same requirements.
Features like detailed reporting or being able to export courses might be important to the business next door. But the type of online training you choose might have a greater need for zero downtime or quick and easy updating.
This is why it’s important to work through your business and training requirements with input from other stakeholders. Once you understand your training objectives, and how they’ll help you achieve your business objectives, you’ll know what you value most in an LMS.
To do this you’ll need to block out the exciting appeal of flashy new features and go back to the basics. When selecting an LMS, questions to consider include, who are you training, why are you training them, and how much can you afford to spend?
Your user base has an existing comfort-level for new technology, preconceived notions about online learning, and a tolerance level for navigating new technology, especially when it’s over and above their daily work.
This means that the latest content format features and theme-able designs may not be as much of a priority as intuitive learning paths and navigation features.
By translating your business objectives into training objectives, you’ll be able to more accurately determine what makes a good learning management system for your eLearning needs. You’ll then be able to arm yourself with a tailored requirement specification to help you decide whether or not to make the switch.
LMS Aches and Pains: An Evaluation Checklist
By now you’re already working with an LMS, but it just isn’t working for you. And you’re not alone.
We know that 88 percent of the time companies are switching LMS to improve the user experience, 74 percent of the time it’s to improve the administrative experience, and 66 percent of the time it’s because of reporting, system integration, or the need for mobile capabilities.
If you’re wondering whether it’s time you made the switch, take a look at this LMS evaluation checklist for any aches and pains that you’re experiencing.
Poor User Interface Design
Do users struggle to navigate through course content? Does the course layout distract users from the learning path? Is the LMS user interface inconsistent across different devices?
If you’ve answered “yes” to one or all of the questions above, then poor user interface and course layouts might be the difference between achieving and failing to achieve your training objectives.
A system that is uncomfortable and confusing to use will always be short-lived. This is because learning is hard enough for busy employees without them having to figure out where the content is and how it fits together.
Your user interface should be designed to be intuitive, clean, uncomplicated, and easy to navigate so that it doesn’t distract from learning. The interface should accommodate a wide range of user needs and accessibility so that employees can learn on the go. This means a consistent user interface across laptops, tablets, and mobile phones.
A variety of user profile types and customizable privileges and access ensure that users get the interface that best suits their use of the system. And single sign-on avoids the frustration of having to log in again, and again, and yet again.
Depending on features, your choice of LMS could greatly influence which methods and modes of delivery you’ll be able to use in your eLearning course design.
Features that support gamification allow you to incorporate gaming elements (such as point systems and badges) to achieve higher training engagement. Features that support multiple types of assessment enable you to get the best information on the progress of learning and retention. And communication features like video conferencing, instant messaging, and discussion forums allow you to reach your users in the most effective ways.
Not having the right features to suit your business and training needs is like trying to bake a cake without all of the right ingredients. The outcome? Less than optimal. This can be an obstacle to effective instructional design.
This is why it’s always a good idea to take a look at the features list before making a switch.
Tricky File Management
A common frustration with LMS systems is file management. This includes accessing, sharing, exporting and protecting important eLearning files.
If your current software doesn’t:
- Allow for sharing files with selected users
- Provide export options (especially using industry standard formats such as SCORM and Tin Can), or
- Offer security measures for protecting your files and user information,
then it may be time to switch.
Difficult Course Maintenance
It’s the usual story. Your eLearning course needs an update, or a feature is misbehaving, but you can’t seem to figure out how to make the necessary changes.
The best LMS platforms shouldn’t require a sophisticated knowledge of web development to be updated and maintained. Course creators and managers should be able to navigate these features easily and without frustration so that courses and content are never in disarray.
And when something does go wrong, you’ll want to know that customer service and technical support are reliable and fast.
ALSO READ: Is LMS Software Worth the Investment?
Poor Customer Service and Technical Support
While an LMS with speedy and reliable servers is critical, technology isn’t always on our side. Every training software experiences downtime. And LMS downtime means putting the brakes on learning.
This becomes even more frustrating when a response from customer service or technical support team arrives days later. Or worse, their response proves unhelpful or even incorrect.
The technical support package and reputation of any software is one of the most important selection criteria. And if you’re considering the switch, you’ll want to take this into account when you start looking for that replacement.
Just like that sweater you used to love in your teen years, your LMS doesn’t always grow with you. What you need in a software today could change when your company grows larger, more specialized, or more diversified.
This means that paying for capabilities that you don’t need today will not give achieve a financial return. Likewise, it’s important to recognize when your training needs have outgrown your current LMS.
The objective? To make the switch while maintaining reasonable costs as user numbers increase and requirements change.
Limited Reporting Capabilities
In order to understand how effective a training program has been, you need information. This includes information on completion rates, engagement, assessment results, and so much more. But without the right reporting capabilities, getting accurate, timely, and clearly presented data can be a challenge.
Reporting features, like custom reports, allow you to dig deeper into your user and reporting data. Limited reporting capabilities is an important reason to consider switching your eLearning software.
Lack of Customizability
We all prefer to browse beautiful, consistently styled sites, and an LMS is no different. But many training systems don’t offer this kind of customization.
A software white-labeled with your business branding adds to the professionalism of your training efforts. So if your current LMS doesn’t offer custom branding, you’re missing out on (at least):
- A custom homepage
- A customizable domain name
- Customizable logos
Making the Switch , Easy as Ever
The bad news is that you’ve related to many of the LMS aches and pains above. The good news is that you don’t need to settle. And you don’t need to be a tech wizard to identify the best platforms either. Armed with a good understanding of your training objectives and an evaluation checklist, you can be confident in knowing when it’s the right time to make that switch.
It’s simple. Just get in touch with an LMS you’d like to try (or sign up for a free-for-life demo account) and ask about the process for moving over any courses you’ve already developed. Remember, not every eLearning software is the same, and you need the best. So make the most of the Learning Management Product Selection Tool to find your perfect switch. You’ll wish you made the leap ages ago.
Nikos Andriotis is an author at TalentLMS. He has a degree in Informatics and close to two decades of professional experience in education, IT and eLearning. His writings have been published in numerous tech industry outlets.
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