Learning is an integral part of business growth. Only companies that have a process to ensure that their employees are continuously learning and moving forward can expect to meet their long-term goals. After all, without a way for employees to progress, it not only limits the potential for growth for the company, but also makes the workplace much less appealing to potential employees because of the lack of opportunities to advance their careers and acquire new skills.
But for small and medium-sized business, employing a comprehensive learning management system can seem difficult.
Training employees requires resources and time that many smaller companies lack, which makes owning a learning management system (LMS) more important. LMS software is designed to help organizations effectively develop and manage their learning programs, providing tools that make the entire process more effective and easier to implement.
When an LMS is used to its full potential, it can help employees acquire new skills and expand their knowledge. This not only helps them grow professionally, but ensures that the company is able to keep up with the ever-changing trends and developments in the industry.
How to Choose the Right Learning Management System?
While there are numerous reasons for implementing an LMS, in order to reap the most benefits from it, companies must first choose a software solution that best fits their individual needs. After all, there’s a wide selection of options available that are catered to businesses of different sizes and requirements.
Once you start breaking down the essential functions that learning management systems must provide, however, the process of finding the right solution becomes much more manageable.
Most importantly, before you even start looking at specific software solutions, you must first identify the needs of your company as it relates to a learning management system. To make that process easier, here are three important questions you must answer before making a decision:
What Skills do Your Employees Need to Develop?
In order to discover which learning management system can provide the most for your business, you must first identify what skills your employees need to acquire.
Make a list of the employees, departments or other groups of people within the company that need training resources, including which specific courses they’ll need. This way, you can match these requirements with a specific LMS (or, hopefully, multiple) so you can see which vendors align best with your requirements.
Additionally, don’t limit yourself to your current training requirements. Your learning needs now might be very different from what they’ll be in five years, so it’s important to have an idea of what your future learning goals might be.
As you can imagine, it’s much more cost-effective for SMBs to choose a LMS software that can accommodate your needs for years into the future instead of changing it once it’s time to scale up your learning programs or implement additional features.
And while many learning management system vendors promise that even features that aren’t available now will become available down the line, you should only consider the software solutions that have all of the features you require today, as plans for an expanded list of features don’t always materialize.
Another thing to consider is the ability to customize the system according to your needs. Each organization has its own practices, and thus may want to present the learning materials in different ways. For instance, you might want to use a mixture of different learning methods, utilizing both online training tools as well as instructor-led training. In this case, you should make sure that your learning management system can accommodate that.
Therefore, it’s wise to think about how you’d like your learning management system to be customized, in order to maximize the learning effectiveness. You should then use this information to look for vendors that can accommodate your needs.
What are the Essential LMS Features?
Once you’re familiar with your own requirements for a learning management system, the next step is to figure out the essential features that you want the software to deliver. While there are numerous features offered by different LMS providers, many catered specifically to SMBs, here are some of the key functions that you should look for in order to get the most out of the software:
Tracking and Customizable Reporting
In order to gain the most out of a learning management system, it’s important to be able to accurately track and monitor its performance. That’s why you should look for a software solution that provides extensive tracking capabilities and customizable reports, allowing you to focus on the metrics that are the most relevant to your company’s training goals.
Implementation of an LMS has its challenges, so it’s important that your software provider offers extensive support to make it easier. You should look into the package that you’re considering to purchase and ensure that it includes support throughout the implementation and training processes.
Today’s learning management systems have to be easy to access anywhere and at any time if they’re to be seriously considered. It’s hard to fit training sessions around the busy schedules of your employees, so they must have access to their training modules at any time and on any device. According to a report by Towards Maturity, 67% of organizations now offer mobile learning in some form, and this number is growing. Therefore, companies that are implementing LMS solutions can’t allow themselves to ignore it as a requirement.
These are just a few features that are very useful when implementing a LMS, but each organization will have their own set of requirements that’ll need to be determined before choosing a vendor. That said, it’s a wise idea to not go overboard when making a list of features. When too many features are present during the implementation process, it can become very complicated, potentially reducing the overall effectiveness of the software.
Another good idea is to try out the software to see if it’s a good fit. With today’s cloud-based LMS solutions, many vendors offer a free trial period, so you don’t have to make a commitment before making sure that the software is what you were looking for.
What is Your Budget?
Finally, in order to accurately gauge your options when choosing a LMS, you must decide on an eLearning budget, as some of systems carry a price that may be hefty for many SMBs.
But even though the initial price may seem high, in the end, a learning management system is almost always a wise choice for small and medium-sized businesses. As shown by a white paper from SumTotal, effective use of talent development and learning initiatives can lead to significant cost savings.
When a clear budget is established, businesses can quickly cross off many of the learning management system vendors because of their cost, which helps you get a clearer picture of what features are available in that price range.
Luckily, there are many learning management system solutions that are catered specifically for startups and SMBs with limited budgets. Many of these vendors make use of a subscription-based model that doesn’t require a big initial investment, instead offering all the functionality that a cloud-based learning management system can offer for a monthly fee.
That’s why cloud-based LMS vendors that use a SaaS model are usually preferred by smaller businesses; they offer the financial flexibility that allows you to start reaping all the benefits of a premium LMS solution without paying the entire sum before seeing any results.