6 Questions to ask your Prospective LMS Provider
Deciding on an LMS provider for your business is not easy. There are so many options and choices of installation in today’s market that it can be hard to know what features are best to engage your employees while giving you a high return on your investment?
The many learning management systems available can be very different, and each one brings its own set of costs and implementation challenges. With this in mind, here is a list of the top questions we recommend that you ask your prospective LMS provider.
- How long will the LMS take to implement and how much will it cost?
It’s important to determine what type of LMS the vendor provides on initial engagement. The type of LMS they provide will determine the type of system hosting required which in turn, will determine the cost of the implementation and the time to launch.
Cloud-hosted SaaS systems are generally the easiest to implement as they require no on-premise installation, only user access to the system from a desktop, laptop or mobile browser. Other companies who have in-house IT experience or IT departments generally prefer to deploy the LMS on-premise which in turn will have added hardware costs.
The fastest implementation time comes with a SaaS-based system as it is already live and only needs to be configured to suit your training needs. A SaaS-based LMS could easily go-live in one day but realistically, it needs to be configured to suit your business needs, training goals and user profiles. Data would need to be imported into the system also.
On-premise systems generally take much longer as they need to be customised to suit your business. They require server installation as well as system development time which will all add to the overall implementation cost.
2. What support services do you offer to your clients?
The focus of a great LMS should be the learning experience that it provides to your business. This is why it’s important to clarify from the outset, what technical support options are available to your business.
You should be sure that you will have access to expert assistance if and when you need it. And that the vendor will be there to hold your hand during and after the implementation phase.
Identifying how issues will be resolved and seeing a draft SLA (service level agreement) will be crucial. Be sure to ask if and what the added costs will be for your ongoing support before signing on the dotted line.
3. Do you own the LMS or are you a 3rd party provider?
Purchasing from a 3rd party system provider or re-seller can sometimes mean you need to find an experienced partner in order to help you to deploy the system. Even if the re-seller is going to implement and deploy the system for you, you need to be sure that they are not totally dependent on any other external parties as this can lead to delays and often implementation failure.
Sourcing software direct from the product owner will mean a much smoother LMS implementation and a faster turnaround time. They will be with you every step of the way. Direct providers also offer higher levels of support and are much more receptive to client change requests.
Direct providers are much more brand conscious and they understand the need to attend to their customers’ needs and wants in order to protect their brand.
4. Is the system Corporate or Academic by design?
It’s hard to believe but yes there is a difference between a corporate and an academic system. If you blindly pick the wrong type of LMS which won’t suit your business or training style, then you’re going to run into problems.
It will result in bad user experience, low levels of system adoption and it will lead to employees growing extremely frustrated. Training managers will also become frustrated and you will likely burn vast amounts of money trying to reconfigure the system in order to fix the issues that could have been avoided by picking the correct LMS first time around.
Below is a brief explanation of how a corporate LMS and an academic LMS are different:
Corporate and academic systems have different goals and objectives:
Corporate and academic LMS systems are somewhat alike in that they both afford learners remote access to their courses, at their own time, place, and pace. Both can upload and manage content. Where they are different is in their focus on corporate or academic learning needs respectively, as well as their support for the type of integration, monitoring, and administration features needed in a corporate IT setting.
Employee training vs. Academic education:
An educational LMS goal is to produce well-rounded students who are being encouraged to be curious by nature and to explore their field to come up with new findings for themselves. When it comes to corporate training ROI is king, and learning is all about upskilling, compliance or practical applications and needs to be as fast and efficient as possible.
5. How flexible is the system to change requests?
If the vendor in question is the system owner then the answer should be “extremely flexible”. It can be very minor for a product owner to tweak the system and make the changes required by a client as they have direct access to the system code.
For a system re-seller who does not have access to the system code, it will involve meticulous scoping of the required changes in order to communicate correctly back to the system owners on your behalf. These type of changes always incur vast development costs and are never implemented immediately as 3rd party customers are generally not seen as a priority.
6. What level of system training is provided?
You will only achieve your training or learning and development goals using an LMS if you have system administrators who are properly trained and know how to operate the system to its full potential.
Without dedicated one-to-one LMS training, an administrator will have to ‘learn on the job’ which will result in a prolonged period of trial and error that could jeopardise the adoption of the system within your business.
Ask your potential LMS provider about the levels of training that they provide:
- How extensive will the training be?
- How is it delivered?
- is it one-to-one training with a dedicated mentor?
- What type of follow-on training is available after the initial implementation phase?
Whichever type of LMS you decide on, be sure to ask the system vendor all of the above questions. This will help to ensure the system you settle on will deliver exactly what you need from an LMS and for your business.
It’s also extremely advisable to take system demos from at least three different LMS providers as these type of systems can vary widely in terms of features, functionality and most importantly ease-of-use.
Hopefully, this article will help you make the right choice for your staff training solution.