Finding the right LMS for your company can be quite a hassle. In an industry filled with so many “experts”, “thought leaders” and “visionaries”, it is quite challenging to separate the real deals. Nearly every company you interact with will claim to have the best Learning Management System ever, ready to solve all your worldly problems. That is certainly not so!
Even though there are some Learning Management Systems better than others, they all have their strengths and limitations. That’s why I have always found the “Top 10 Learning Management System” and “Best Learning Management System” lists out there as being unfair, or in the best case, very simplistic because there is no “one size fits all” LMS out there and any one that indicates so is making a mistake.
It is necessary to take an objective view of the LMS market and align it with your company’s requirements so as to choose the right Learning Management System.
Choosing the Best LMS
At Udutu, after ten years, 70,000 customers and 4 million users with a 96% retention rate in the business, we have compiled a list of things for you to think about so that you are not misguided when considering an LMS for your audience.
- Be Clear on Your Learning and Training Objectives.It is not a good idea to hunt for an Learning Management System before you are very clear as to what your learning and training objectives are. A lot of companies make the mistake of starting their search before they themselves are clear as to what they want to actually achieve from their learning and training sessions. The result is that a lot of companies get lost in the plethora of options that are thrown at them and end up making the wrong choice that they only figure out when its too late. Don’t let companies guide you as to what your needs are; come into the market knowing your needs and then find a suitable vendor to fulfill your requirements.
- Don’t be fooled by the High Costs of an LMS.Unlike other industries, the Learning Management System market does not have a correlation between price and quality. Some of the better Learning Management System’s out there are very fairly priced whereas some very poor products are costly. The e-learning industry like the pharmaceutical industry spends heavily on marketing resulting in some poor products getting a lot more visibility than some genuinely good products and solutions. So don’t assume that just because you are paying a lot that you are getting a good deal!
- Know the limitations of your internal team and users.A Learning Management System is like a car. You can buy a great car but you still need a driver to drive it. You will get the best driving experience based on the skill and expertise of the driver. Remember this when shopping for a Learning Management System. Some Learning Management System’s are like sports cars; really fast and responsive but they need a skilled driver at the wheel. Others are like family sedans; stable and resilient but they can’t be pushed much. Features like user friendliness, creative control and functionality all define a Learning Management System. If you can correctly identify as to what kind of experience your internal users and team want, you will find it easy to shop for an LMS. You don’t want to end up buying a Lamborghini for your grandma! Yes, it’s a great car but not for your grandmother.
- Pay for the features you need, not for what you MIGHT need.Think about your microwave. How many buttons do you actually use on a microwave? Do you care if it has built in thermal detector, the worlds best metallic body or the shiniest glass cover? No you don’t and neither did your grandfather who used the same microwave for thirty years. Because the job of a microwave is to heat your food, that’s it. The LMS industry is filled with products that shine a lot. To be honest, some of the extra features might even be good but do you really need them? If you think so, then go ahead and get that shiny new product but only do so if you know you will use it. Market research shows that 90% of all LMS buyers pay 70% more than they need to for features they never use. That’s why it is necessary to be clear on your objectives (Point 1)
- The latest new technology is not necessarily the Best one.Quite simply, go with technologies and protocols that are tried and tested over newer technologies. For e.g. SCROM over Tin Can API for now! Why so? Because it has been around a while, has been debugged, fixed and now is picture perfect. Newer standards and protocols in the LMS market take time to be streamlined and optimized. So don’t be too impressed when someone starts telling you how they have the latest and the best protocol! The truth be told they have the potential to fail you in the middle of an important project. Because standards work on the backend and don’t effect the user experience directly (like Tin Can API can do nothing for the appearance or the content of the course), it is much better to adopt reliable ones like SCROM over the “latest and greatest” ones. Wait for a standard to mature before being impressed by it.
- Customer Support is Everything.In an industry plagued with poor customer service, it is crucial to choose a company that puts customers before everything else. Remember that no matter how awesome your new LMS is, you will still run into issues. That’s just the nature of the learning curve for an LMS. In those moments you want a company that actually listens to you and addresses your problems. For a lot of companies your company is just an invoice; so talk with current customers (especially smaller clients) to get an idea of the kind of treatment you will get after you sign the contract. As a marker, ask to directly speak with a high ranking individual such as the CTO or CEO and see how quickly he/she responds.
- Trust Demos and Trails over Reviews, Ratings and “Industry Experts”.As previously mentioned, the LMS industry is inundated by marketing. The result is that the information out there can be quite deceptive. The solution? Ask for a live demo and test out every feature before making a decision. If you are not sure, then delay your decision and wait till the time you are 100% sure. Remember that making the right call can save you from hours of misery later on. So set up live demos and trails and see first hand as to what you think about the Learning Management System. Never ever take a “leap of faith” based on reviews or ratings in the Learning Management System industry. Experiencing the Learning Management System yourself in an extended trial or demo is the best way to go about making a decision. Thats why a lot of companies have 14 day trial periods , because they want you to quickly make a decision and commit. If you are not sure, simply ask for an extended trial ; if they dont respond , then read Point No 6 about Customer Service again.
Keep all these things in mind when you are searching for a new Learning Management System. Take your time and test your options before settling on one. An LMS can be a big investment for your business and you want to be sure that you are making the right call.
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Here at Udutu, we take great pride in helping our corporate clients avoid these mistakes and implement cost effective, undisruptive and engagement based learning solutions that actually make a difference. Contact us to help us help you make this transition.