According to analysts and industry experts, LMS SaaS solutions will dominate in popularity in the coming years due to a wide range of advantages over standard on-premise solutions.
In this article, we'll cover ten things you should know when choosing a SaaS-based LMS. Without further ado, let’s get started.
Ten Must-To-Know Things about SaaS LMS Systems
Cloud-based LMS working on the SaaS approach is slightly different from those familiar to many standard LMS systems. While traditional LMS systems need to be purchased and installed on every computer in an educational institution, the SaaS approach offers a much more convenient use case.
SaaS stands for Software as a Service, and often it is a cloud-based solution located on a vendor's servers. The user gets access to the service through a browser or via an API, and the service provider is solely responsible for all product support. Simply put, the SaaS model is when a client works with a ready-made solution online, pays for access, and gets the ready-made tool on hand as quickly as possible.
As a result, it’s enough just to license the software by subscribing, and you will have full access to the LMS functionality via the Internet without the need to waste time on installation.
When implementing a SaaS platform in your educational process, you should keep in mind that almost every SaaS LMS system is cloud-based, but not all cloud-based LMS are SaaS LMS. To understand better the distinction between these two types, we recommend getting a professional LMS consultation.
Thing #1. LMS SaaS Systems Are Easily Scalable
Having bought a standard LMS system for organizing online training, you are always bound by the framework of the system itself. The fixed capabilities of the chosen LMS limit you in growth and ever-changing priorities. For example, your audience of students has grown, and the selected system does not support it? Well, you have to put up with it. Did you suddenly realize that you didn't need some functionality? Well, you won't be able to remove or abandon it, and you'll have to pay for features you don't use.
LMS SaaS systems are free from this disadvantage since these solutions are often located in the cloud, which allows these cloud-based LMS systems to adapt to an increasing number of students quickly. Besides that, you can easily request a change to a tariff plan with fewer features, thereby significantly reducing costs. Thus, you do not need to pay for additional services.
Thing #2. Fast Deployment Time
Deployment of LMS SaaS is several times faster than standard LMS. Firstly, you do not need to spend time installing the LMS system on multiple devices since access to SaaS-based LMS occurs directly through the browser. Secondly, cloud-based LMS providers have separate teams of specialists on their staff who are engaged in the deployment and customization of the system for the needs of a particular client. All you need to do is go through a bit of onboarding using the already configured system, and you are ready to start the learning process.
Thing #3. All Vital Data Is Stored at Central Location
As we mentioned earlier, SaaS LMS systems are located in the cloud. This is done not only for the sake of greater flexibility but also for security reasons. All your course data and other files are stored in the cloud, which ensures high data security. And security lies not only in protection against malware and hackers but also against annoying losses due to hardware. Gone are the days when all course data was stored on hard drives that could fail. LMS SaaS systems provide users with maximum reliability.
Thing #4. SaaS LMS Systems Are Easy-To-Learn
Ease of learning is one of the most important criteria for any LMS system, and SaaS-based LMS systems fully comply with this criterion. Most of the systems have friendly and simple interfaces that help a beginner quickly get used to all the functionality and immediately start the learning process. And this simplicity works for everyone involved in learning, be it student, teacher, or administrator.
Also, do not forget that you are always in touch with the supplier of the LMS SaaS system and who will quickly provide you with answers to all your questions and resolve any problems associated with the process of using the system.
Thing #5. Learning Content Is Accessible from Anywhere
The ease of access to the LMS SaaS system provides many conveniences in the learning process. All educational information is available on any device in just a couple of clicks. In addition, you only need constant access to the Internet, and you can use the cloud-based LMS at home, while traveling, in a cafe, or any other place with Internet access.
In addition, some systems have offline access, which allows you to view educational material without access to the Internet. After the connection is restored, course pages are automatically updated to the most recent versions.
Thing #6. Multi-Tenant Architecture Support
Most LMS SaaS systems are based on a multi-tenant architecture that allows multiple managers (for example, teacher and administrator) to manage various students simultaneously. In addition, this architecture makes it easier to update the system by making all updates available to all eligible users.
Thing #7. LMS SaaS System Requires Zero Management
Since LMS SaaS systems do not require installation, you are automatically relieved of the headaches of system management on multiple computers and devices in the school. Instead, the entire management of the system falls on the vendor’s shoulders, while all you need to do is log in and start learning or creating your online courses without worrying about the technical side.
Thing #8. Seamless Integration With Third-Party Software
If you have already used standard LMS systems, you may have encountered a situation where the built-in capabilities of the system were not enough to cover all the needs. In such cases, third-party software came to the rescue, but the connection of such software with the LMS system could turn into a real challenge.
LMS SaaS systems have readily available APIs that help LMS and various third-party systems quickly and easily connect and interact with each other. However, integration requirements are often negotiated with the service provider separately, and a separate fee is charged for this service.
Thing #9. Mobile-Friendly Policy
Since LMS SaaS systems are available on any device, service providers work out the interfaces of their LMS to the smallest detail. The main goal of this process is to have the same readability, functionality, and visual component of the interfaces on all mobile devices. By choosing a SaaS-based LMS, you can be sure that your students will get the same high-level experience regardless of the device on which your training course is launched.
Thing #10. SaaS-Based LMS Systems Are Cost-Effective
Using the LMS SaaS system in your training, you significantly reduce costs since you do not need to spend your funds on system management, maintenance, infrastructure improvement, fixing errors, and much more. All of the above expenses are covered by the LMS SaaS system provider. The only cost you need to keep in mind is your monthly licensing subscription.
Downsides of SaaS LMS
Despite all the positive aspects that we have listed, the SaaS systems are not ideal, and they also have their weaknesses that you should know about.
1. Pitfalls With a Pricing Model
Yes, we have previously praised the monetization model of SaaS LMS systems since you only need to pay for a subscription to access LMS features. However, there is a slight nuance that overshadows this form of payment a little.
The subscription and its price often depend on the number of students and subordinates who create courses and work with the system. Different pricing plans require different numbers of students and employees. And as a result, you may have a situation when one person has been added to your group of students, and to continue working with the system, you will need to switch to a more expensive plan. A similar situation may catch you by surprise. Besides that, even if there is only one student in your group and you are doing the courses yourself, you still have to pay the full subscription price, albeit on the cheapest plan.
2. Licence Restrictions
When choosing a SaaS-based LMS for your eLearning process, you should remember that you are only renting this system. All ownership rights belong to the platform developer, and the company only grants you the temporary right to use this system. As a result, you are limited in your use cases, and you can’t modify the system or do anything with it without the owner’s knowledge. And don’t forget that as soon as you stop paying, the owner will close your access to using their software product.
Besides that, since the company wholly owns the system, the developers can change the LMS SaaS as they see fit. Features can be added or removed. The interface can be redesigned, the pricing policy can be changed, and much more. And you have to react quickly to such changes, adjust your learning processes and put up with the policy of the platform vendor.
3. Challenging or Impossible Customization
SaaS LMS platforms are often not customizable. By paying for a subscription, you will be limited only by the internal functionality. However, this does not mean that such systems do not lend themselves to customization. Once your eLearning processes require new features, you will need to pay the vendor to introduce custom functionality into the system specifically for your personal needs. Keep in mind that not all vendors allow you to implement custom solutions into the system.
And the final thing, you are limited in the number of third-party integrations. You may have only those officially implemented in the LMS system at your disposal, and adding new ones may require additional costs or be impossible at all.
If your eLearning processes require maximum customization capabilities from the LMS platform, you should pay attention to open-source LMS systems such as Open Edx. Systems of this type are incredibly flexible, and by hiring the right development team, you can get unique custom solutions and functionality for your LMS system.
As you can see, LMS SaaS systems combine many advantages and exciting features that transform the usual online learning. This mix makes online learning much more convenient and seamless for all participants in the process. However, if your vision of online learning using the SaaS-based LMS requires a custom approach, it’s worth contacting experts in this field.
Raccoon Gang is an experienced online learning solutions provider with a solid technical background and deep understanding of the eLearning business. Drop us a line and share your eLearning needs, so our experts can help you with their realization.