In today’s fast-paced world, technology has transformed the way we work and learn.
To keep up with the ever-evolving landscape, organizations are increasingly turning to Learning Management Systems (LMS) as a way to train, engage and manage teams. In fact, 9 out of 10 businesses already made the switch to online learning in 2018 in some shape or form – but does that mean you should?
The data suggest that all companies can benefit from it, with 72% of companies reporting more flexibility and adaptability to change as a result of implementing learning technologies. The implementation of LMS technologies can also lead to up to 18% more employee engagement, suggesting that their addition to teams of all sizes can be pivotal to a company’s overall success.
The question then becomes, if LMSs have the power to make my team better, what should I look out for in an LMS to support my team and business goals? In this article, we will explore the key questions you should ask yourself before investing in an LMS. We aim to help you navigate the many LMS platforms out there so you can choose the one that is right for your team, goals and needs.
- Learning Management Systems (LMS) are software applications or platforms used for delivering, managing, and tracking educational courses or training programs.
- Assess your organization’s training problems and determine if an LMS can address issues such as progress tracking, onboarding, training effectiveness, participation measurement, and flexibility for remote or hybrid work environments..
- Clearly define your goals for implementing an LMS, whether it’s certification delivery, innovation, soft skills development, or technical training.
- Understand your organization’s learning philosophy, whether it’s a top-down approach with centralized decision-making or a bottom-up approach with peer-led and self-directed learning.
- Consider user preferences such as digital literacy, learning styles, collaboration needs, and availability for self-paced or scheduled learning.
- Ensure whatever LMS you choose is scalable to accommodate organizational growth.
Learning Management Systems (LMS) are software applications or platforms that help deliver, manage and track educational courses or training programs. LMSs are commonly used in educational institutions, corporations, and other organizations to provide online learning and training opportunities.
The first question you must ask yourself is, “Do I need an LMS right now?”
As much as online learning has transitioned to the workplace in the past years, not all online learning is created equal. For example, over half of the people who sign up for MOOCs (52%) don’t participate in the online course at all. On the other hand, even before the transition to remote work, only 12% of employees applied skills from training programmes to their jobs.
An LMS can help you tackle the following training problems:
- You don’t currently measure your team’s skill development progress
- Your onboarding system is not structured or streamlined
- Your training is a one-way stream of information (such as slide decks and videos) that you send to employees without follow-ups or discussions.
- You aren’t able to track whether employees are actually participating in training. Or if they are, whether they retain and apply the knowledge
- You are looking to set up training programs that drive ROI, engage and support your teams and want to learn how to do that in the simplest way possible.
- Your employees are remote (or hybrid) and need learning flexibility (through online, in-person or a mix of training approaches)
Whether you have onboard employees at double the rate, train a sales team on a specific sales tactic or simply create your first structured training, paint a picture of the first goal. Once you understand this, you can consider the features and technical requirements you need from the technology.
For example, do you need to deliver certification? Make sure the LMS enables certification delivery. Maybe you want to encourage innovation and soft skills like critical thinking and communication or solely focus on building a technical training program. These types of questions will determine whether your LMS should offer different features.
Power question: What processes do I want to improve and what do I want my team to get better at?
In the same way that we don’t all learn in the same ways, we don’t all have the same team cultures. Some teams are remote, others rely on in-person events. Other teams require group training meanwhile others require a 1-to-1 approach.
This will depend on your team’s culture, size, preferences and structure. There are two simple ways to categorize training philosophies:
1. Top-down training
Top-down training involves a small group of top leaders making decisions about training. It suits companies with routine tasks, like retail and manufacturing. An LMS that supports mandatory training, such as compliance, is ideal for this approach.
2. Bottom-up training
On the other hand, bottom-up training is favored by companies focusing on innovation and individual growth. It is beneficial for startups, online and hybrid teams and knowledge-intensive industries. This type of training relies on peer-led and self-directed learning.
In peer-led training, employees collaborate through activities like brainstorming, coaching, and peer reviews. Self-directed learning encourages employees to pinpoint their learning needs, set goals, design their learning path, and assess outcomes with the guidance of a facilitator.
An LMS emphasizing collaboration would be highly valued by employees who embrace a bottom-up learning philosophy.
Power question: What type of learning aligns with my team’s culture?
Put yourself in the shoes of the end user of the LMS. Are they digitally savvy? Do they prefer to learn by reading, listening or watching videos? Will they require collaboration with others to learn the skills they require? Does their schedule allow them to learn at their own pace or can they commit to specific times?
Understanding your team’s requirements and preferences will help you choose an LMS that primes them to engage in training before starting the training. For example, 82% of enterprise workers revealed that interactive videos more effectively retain their attention than non-interactive videos.
Power question: How does your team prefer to learn and what can they commit to?
Regardless of your size, looking out for an LMS that is able to grow with you sets you up for success from the get-go. It is likely that if you are investing in your team, you are looking to grow in some shape or form.
Think about what you need to solve right now, but also what you may need in the medium and long term. This is a good way to make sure your LMS of choice offers guidance and transparency when it comes to scalability. How can they help you today? How will their features shape your growing needs?
Power question: How will my learning requirements change over time?
LMS with interactive features, such as gamification, learning scenarios, and simulations can increase employee engagement by 92%. But whether those features are right for you or not will depend on your goals (point #1). Make a list of must-haves, nice-to-haves, and irrelevant. Then, assess which features you absolutely need, which you could let go of if the tool exceeds your budget, and which ones don’t really matter at all. Here are the three main components of an LMS to consider features for:
- Course authoring: All LMSs have an authoring tool, but there are differences: Stand-alone tools may require compatibility checks when importing or exporting files to the LMS. This can hinder continuous training. For seamless course creation, choose an LMS with a built-in authoring tool, allowing learners to create, upload, and modify learning materials without compatibility concerns.
- Management & interaction: Do you need a continuous back and forth with users or only need to track their platform activity?
- Reporting & Analytics: is this an absolute must or a nice to have? It will greatly depend on your training requirements and the purpose of the training. For example, if you train staff to certify them, completion rates will be paramount. If you are developing a customer training program, you may be more interested in measuring engagement rates to understand what they’re interested in.
Although the delivery of the learning content is straightforward, you need to understand whether your LMS of choice provides a flexible content delivery process or is fixed. Is it as simple as drag-and-drop or a layered process that may confuse non-tech users?
When talking with vendors, make sure you thoroughly understand the following functions: 1. How to upload content, 2. How users can access the content and 3. How easy it is to manage user behavior.
Power question: What is the content upload, delivery and accessibility process of the LMS like?
Most LMSs offer some degree of collaboration. Research shows that social learning has 75x higher ROI than other L&D methods for organizations. This is because it facilitates collaborative learning environments that encourage knowledge sharing, potentially accelerating the spread of knowledge and improving decision-making and productivity.
To understand whether you would benefit from these features, revisit your goals, learning philosophy and user preferences to better understand if it’s something of interest. Then, consider the level of interactivity and engagement you want to incorporate into your learning experiences. Determine if you require features such as discussion forums, live chats, gamification elements, or social learning opportunities.
In tandem with the importance of choosing an LMS that grows with you, considering an LMS integration capabilities is a smart way to plan ahead. Even if you can currently manage without integrations, it is likely that as your team grows and processes are streamlined, integrations will become increasingly important.
Before investing in an LMS, make sure you get a free set-up period to make sure it’s right for your goals and needs. If you’re a small or medium team, look for vendors that provide a fully functional pilot with support, giving you a real-time experience of the training process.
Larger teams may benefit from a no-strings-attached trial, involving representatives from different departments to gather feedback on user experience before making a decision.
At WeSchool, we see technology as a tool to make training simpler, not more complex. That’s why we have outlined these 10 questions as the key decision-makers in selecting an LMS: because every team has unique learning and training needs. Yet also need a tool that helps them achieve their goals in a simpler and more effective way.
As you consider the 10 things to guide your decision in choosing an LMS, why not explore how the WeSchool LMS can help you build and structure training programs that engage teams without having to be an L&D expert? You can book a free personalized demo with our team of experts – no strings attached!