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6 Mistakes to Avoid While Choosing an LMS for Corporate Training

6 Mistakes to Avoid While Choosing an LMS for Corporate Training

Choosing an LMS for corporate training is a big step for any company, as it is aimed to become a part of HR and L&D systems, as well as a part of the company’s software ecosystem in general. This means choosing the wrong LMS might cost you dearly in terms of funds, time and effort spent on discovering the product does not meet the goals set. Making a perfect software choice and taking every little detail into account can be a hard task, of course. However it's always good to know what must not be done for sure. In this article we'll cover mistakes while choosing an LMS for corporate training that you should definitely avoid!

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Head of Sales and Marketing, Raccoon Gang

Sergiy has significant expertise as an eLearning and Marketing expert since 2012. He brings his experience into play to help RG customers to keep pace with the changing dynamics in the Learning indust

6 Mistakes to Avoid While Choosing an LMS for Corporate Training

The LMS market is huge, with more than 190 top LMS’s currently listed on eLearning Industry and up to 800 available in total, which makes choosing the right one quite complicated. Aside from providing the corporate training itself, LMS must become the central storage of the learner data and analytics, integrated with HR and L&D systems, providing efficient and convenient tools for all the parties involved in corporate training. Therefore, in addition to solving the need for staff training you have at the moment, the system should be able to grow with your company, so in 5 years you will not be forced to look for another option.

This is the list of most common mistakes companies can make while choosing an LMS, based on our experience and freely available reports of market experts:

  1. Judging by the price tag

  2. Putting too much faith into established brands

  3. Choosing based on incorrect RFI/RFP

  4. Not testing the functionality in full before buying

  5. Choosing an LMS for today, not for the years to come

  6. Insufficient attention to analytics and reporting features.

These mistakes can make or break the project, so we will discuss them in more details below.

Judging by the price tag

There are many reasons why paying less upfront might cost you more in the long run. Some Learning Management Systems might seem quite affordable, yet they often fail to accomplish their promises and provide the functionality the customer expects. Likewise, they might impose “hidden fees” for things like theme adjustment or custom design implementation. Important features like analytics being provided on a subscription basis or advanced functionality distributed in paid packages are quite widespread practices.

Quite opposite, top-of-the-line offerings might not offer something extraordinary in terms of user experience. However, even if their product’s features are largely the same, as compared to more affordable alternatives, small details make a big difference.

Quite often, there are a lot open-source LMS vendors who provide transparent pricing and clearly state what some particular feature does and how much it costs. This results in configurable solutions, where the buyer can pay only for the features they use or get custom quotes for their particular case. The point is, a customer can get desired functionality with no “brand fees” attached.

Choosing the oldest, most trusted or most popular LMS vendor

Many customers make a mistake of buying a sales pitch, not a software. A good product sells itself yet appealing marketing slogans do not necessarily guarantee full correspondence to your needs. The other side of the coin is that long-established proprietary products have somewhat slower update rates and their evolution direction does not always correspond the needs of the rapidly-changing business landscape.

The other problem is those huge LMS vendors have lots of support requests at any given moment, and time to response might be significant, especially if your company operates in another time zone. Customers inevitably become numbers for large corporations, whose priorities shift from quantity to quality. In addition, the expectations of smaller groups of customers might be ignored. Quite opposite, small and mid-size LMS providers pay much more attention to customer’s needs.

Choosing based on incorrect RFI/RFP

When the company considers a new LMS purchase or swapping the existing one in favor of a new product, they should form RFI (Request For Information) and/or RFP (Request For Product) with a list of features they expect to receive and their costs. The thing is, even after having a negative experience  with their previous system (not to mention the companies that are choosing their first LMS), many businesses and organizations not always clearly formulate what they really need.

RFI/RFP templates might come in handy in that case, as they list lots of features and make it easier to quickly analyze the product offers. The bad thing is, such templates are often created by LMS vendors, and the features listed as necessary might actually not be needed. Alternatively, if the vendor answers “yes” to a question regarding a feature, this does not necessarily mean the feature will work 100% as you expect. For example, setting custom tracking parameters is available in many LMS tools, grouping them for the ease of management  is not always as easy. Therefore, detailed demo and explanation of each LMS feature are needed.

Not testing the functionality in full before buying

As we said above, marketing departments can create convincing pitches, yet it is the software features and product usage experience that matters at the end of the day. Thus said, getting the first-hand experience is essential for evaluating the features each LMS offers. In another case, the learning curve might be very steep and live your employees with a product they don’t really understand, full of features they will never use.

This is what live demos, free trials, prospect onboarding, and consultations are for. All of these activities are in place to help potential customers explore the product features and make a grounded decision. Don’t be an idle listener during a demo and be a very diligent evaluator during a free trial. Have a combined pilot group of your employees, IT, HR and L&R department representatives use the system and ask as many questions on it as possible.

Aside from understanding the full potential of the eLearning solution and how it fits in your business practices, such behavior helps you create a network of eLearning champions. These are the people who promote eLearning in your organization with personal experience. Friendly engagement and competition bring much better fruit than tedious obligatory training.

Choosing an LMS for today, not for the years to come

Every business is supposed to grow and the LMS of choice should be able to grow along. Scalability, mobile eLearning support, new gamification and learner engagement tools, AR and VR support, social learning and personalized learning paths - these are the treats and features the LMS of your choice should already have or plan to deliver in the nearest future. Otherwise, in 5 years your risk getting stuck with an outdated LMS that does not offer the competitive edge and does not provide the same value it used to.

While open source eLearning solutions are dynamically updated, their development might be somewhat chaotic, as it is done by the independent developer community, which might follow the roadmaps or not. On one hand, if you need some custom feature that is not currently implemented, you can request a community to work on it. This cannot involve any strict terms or guarantees, however, which is the downside of open source development. On the other hand, you can just hire some freelancers or contractors to develop said custom feature for you.

On the other end of the rope, we have proprietary software, which is developed according to the provider’s vision and strategy. Common customers have little control over the roadmaps and developing custom modules requires much time and effort. However, vast customer support documentation and 24/7 support availability are the factors that tip the scales for many customers. In addition, new features get implemented eventually, even if not at once.

Insufficient attention to analytics and reporting features

Once the initial demand for corporate education is saturated, a question of analytics and progress tracking inevitably arises. However, the time is long gone for useless paper reports nobody ever read. The board of directors will be eager to know the efficiency of the corporate training process and test various methodologies to maximize the eLearning outcomes and business impact. Therefore, the analytical features should be configurable and able to be presented in a variety of formats (tables, graphs, diagrams, infographics) and through a variety of mediums (printed, digital, real-time). Therefore, having flexible and customizable analytics and reporting tools is essential to be able to monitor the corporate training process efficiently.

In addition, the age of Big Data in eLearning is rapidly approaching, and having old-school built-in analytical tools with limited capabilities is not the outcome you would like to receive in several years. A wise choice would be considering the capabilities of chosen LMS during the demo and/or free trial - does it provide customizable reporting, can it integrate with Big Data tools, can it feed data to external consumers like HR and L&D department systems, etc.

Conclusions

We listed 6 most notable mistakes a company might make while choosing an LMS. We hope this article helps you better understand what questions should be answered — and avoid these mistakes for good.

Do you think we missed something out? Do you have an experience of choosing a brand new LMS for a company, or swapping from an existing one? Please share your thoughts and insights, we are always open for discussion!

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