6 Factors for a Successful Learning Platform Choice
By Kathleen Waid, Senior Director of Client Services, Expertus
If you’re an enterprise learning professional, you’re no doubt facing unprecedented challenges and opportunities these days. It’s not just about keeping pace with an extraordinary rate of technology innovation. It’s also about a fundamental change in the perceived mission and purpose of learning organizations.
“No longer is the L&D function ‘the place’ for learning; instead the role of the L&D team is to facilitate and enable learning.”
This radical shift from a training-centered “delivery” mindset to a learner-centered “empowerment” approach has tremendous implications for the type of technology needed for workforce development and performance support.
As a result, Bersin says that corporate training budgets are roaring back from recent deficits, to an average annual increase of 10% in 2011 and 12% in 2012. Not surprisingly, much of that spending involves the purchase of new learning platforms.
So Many LMS Choices, So Little Time
Although this news is encouraging, it raises a critical question: How can you be sure that you’re choosing the best next-generation LMS technology for your company?
Industry advisors such as Craig Weiss at E-Learning 24/7 offer detailed insights on How to Buy a LMS, as well as self-help tools for comparison shoppers. This kind of authoritative, independent advice is helpful, especially from experts like Craig who continuously tracks more than 500 LMS offerings.
However, as a next-generation LMS provider, we regularly sit at the table with organizations who grapple with tough technology questions. We see similar issues arise all the time. And we’d like to offer our “insider” perspective on how to find a strong platform fit.
Hint: It doesn’t start with the product. It starts with the vendor.
LMS Vendor Checklist – 6 Key Factors
- Objectives-Driven Demo – What does the product tour reveal? Is it only a cursory functional overview? Or is your head spinning from exposure to a vast kitchen-sink collection of features? Ideally, a demonstration will help you envision how the platform actually supports LMS processes and objectives that are directly relevant and meaningful to your business.
- Change Management Policies – Let’s face it, your business is going to change. But does your prospective vendor truly understand your organization’s need for agility? How easily will the platform adjust to continuous change?
- Implementation Expertise – The success of any LMS goes far beyond its core technology and design. Before you select a vendor, take time to clarify how the platform will accommodate existing content, and how your vendor will manage the data migration process. Furthermore, how competent and committed is the vendor’s professional services organization? Is ongoing customer service a primary strength for your vendor, or is it a weak link? When your business performance is at stake, there is no substitute for experience and reliability.
- Integration History – Of course, vendors know how to integrate elements within their own LMS environment. But are they skilled in seamlessly linking those systems with your existing LMS(s), with enterprise systems beyond the learning function, and if needed, beyond organizational boundaries? Also, be sure to research this essential consideration for leading-edge learning initiatives: Does your vendor offer a healthy REST API library, to ensure smooth, seamless integrations across cloud-based systems?
- Customer Referrals – Many vendors offer extensive customer lists – but how accessible are contacts from those lists? The proof is in the pudding. Don’t hesitate to ask real customers how the vendor manages engagements. Every project has unforeseen shifts in requirements, but it’s critical to understand how changes were managed. Was a change control process outlined in advance? Could the changes have been avoided by more carefully defining the scope of work (SOW)? Was project/relationship management clear, consistent and competent?
- Product Roadmap Input - How much input will your company have in the evolution of your vendor’s LMS platform? What mechanisms are in place to ensure that your suggestions will be considered? Will your voice be heard, or is the provider too large or too internally oriented to engage customers, and incorporate their feedback into product development priorities?
Read the full Expertus LMS Success Insights report, “The Truth and Consequences of Picking an LMS Provider: Who Has Your Best Interests at Heart?”
Or to discuss your organization’s criteria for your next-generation learning platform, feel free to contact us anytime. We value your thoughts, concerns and ideas.
Note from Kathleen: To see if a cloud-based continuous learning platform like the ExpertusONE LMS makes sense for your organization, learn more at our website or feel free to contact us anytime for a personalized consultation and demo.