March 17, 2013 Leave a comment
How to Avoid Costly “Gotchas” When Choosing Your Next Learning Platform
By Kathleen Waid, Senior Director of Client Services, Expertus
Are you paying a fair price for your LMS? What is a realistic cost for technology that supports learning across the extended enterprise?
Good questions. Of course, in today’s world, the answers can be difficult to determine. Gone are the days when it seemed sufficient to estimate the price of a standalone LMS platform, and the content and services needed to deliver formal training programs.
But doesn’t this issue give you a Forrest Gump flashback?
“LMS pricing is like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re gonna get!”
It shouldn’t have to be that way — even in a era where continuous learning is the goal, and requirements for global, networked organizations are increasingly complex. First, let’s take a closer look at how “learning management” is being transformed in several fundamental ways:
1) Innovation is Redefining the Learning Process
Technology is advancing at break-neck speed, along with demand for new cloud-based capabilities that help make learning experiences far more relevant, immediate, engaging, accessible and collaborative.
Meanwhile, the increasing prevalence of social media in corporate environments has opened new channels of informal learning and knowledge sharing that reach far beyond the firewall.
As enterprise innovation advisor Jim Lundy of Aragon Research says, “If you are just on the hunt to replace your existing LMS, you are doing it wrong. The other take is that if you are just buying a standalone enterprise social software platform (ESN) just for social learning, it probably doesn’t do learning well enough.”
2) New Business Context Surrounds the Learning Infrastructure
Lines are blurring between learning and other people-oriented enterprise functions.
According to market advisors at Bersin by Deloitte, “32% of all human resources dollars are now spent on talent-related programs (recruiting, training, leadership, succession, etc.).” What’s more, “Integrated talent management, which is still a new and complex initiative for many companies, is now the equivalent of ‘supply chain management’ in procurement: it’s something any well-run company must do.”
Cracking the Code on LMS Costs – Rules You Can Use
So, what’s a learning technology decision-maker to do? How can you know if LMS pricing is reasonable? Obviously, every situation is unique. However, there are several ways to avoid costly “gotchas” when purchasing a next-generation learning platform:
1) Be Prepared
Boy Scouts get this. They anticipate issues they’re likely to encounter. Learning technology decision makers should, too.
Before you evaluate vendors, take time to create your own detailed list of requirements. This will keep you from focusing on disparate feature lists provided by multiple vendors. It also provides a framework to compare across platforms the level of desired functionality that is included in the base price, while exposing elements that some classify as “optional.” Several red flags:
- RED FLAG: Are important features like advanced reporting treated as “options?” Any vendor who doesn’t consider learning analysis and measurement an integral aspect of today’s LMS environment isn’t focused on delivering value to its customers.
- RED FLAG: Is the data pricing model unclear? Does it make assumptions that are inconsistent with your business goals? How will costs scale with fluctuating demand for content storage? Be sure that the pricing plan supports your learning strategy roadmap, and avoids unexpected costs that are far beyond the standard LMS price.
2) Trust But Verify
Truth is, you’ll never have enough time to prepare for everything, fully. Eventually, you’ll need to rely upon your short list of vendors to fill information gaps and guide you. However, that doesn’t mean you should stop asking questions. In fact, asking questions early and often is the smartest approach. Pay attention not only to the answers themselves, but also consider the way each vendor responds. Several red flags:
- RED FLAG: Is the vendor spending more time pitching a pricing scheme to you? Or do representatives ask clarifying questions and listen carefully to your answers?
- RED FLAG: When you ask questions, are they answered directly, clearly and thoroughly? Do responses consider your perspective, or do they seem to serve the vendor’s interests first?
For more detailed ideas about how to reduce platform pricing confusion, download full Expertus LMS Success Insights bulletin, “Options Options Options – Is Anything Included?”
Our Objective: Avoid Pricing Guesswork
It may seem unusual for a learning platform vendor to disclose “trade secrets” about LMS pricing. Some might think it’s similar to a magician revealing the secret behind a trick. But learning platform vendors are not illusionists. Learning technology is complex enough without requiring customers to navigate pricing schemes that are incomplete, misleading or unintentionally confusing.
Our goal is to take the guesswork out of you purchase decisions.
To discuss your LMS pricing concerns, 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.
Image Credit: Pixabay