Although the systems are getting easier to configure and the SaaS fees continue to fall, you still need to train the Administrator and get the system configured.
Most of the training has nothing to do with “Go to this screen and fill in this form and press Save”. It is more at the strategic level and making the client’s system administrator, IT staff, compliance teams and senior managemt comfortable with the choices that have to be made.
This system will become the companies first or second most-used employee application and should become the central way that the company communicates with its employees and possibly its partners and customers.
The project is often the first time that the implementation team from the user side has worked together. You have IT people who have not given much thought about competencies, SCORM, support for external users, etc. working with people whose computer knowledge ends at MS-Office and have never gone through an implementation of an LMS.
In some cases, none of them have been involved in the requirements and selection process.
The first meeting just walks everyone through the project organization – goals, plan, team introduction and roles.
There are meetings on each of the major functional areas and out of these meetings, there may be mini-projects about SSO, sources of user profiles, transformations and error removal in existing records, validation scripts for acceptance tests, integration of third party content, SCORM problems caused by authoring tools and publishing choices, VLE integration, catalog loading, transcript conversion, reporting, etc.
There can be discussions about eCommerce strategies – discounts, coupons, pricing. Often the customer has not yet fleshed out the business case and is seeking an education about best practices more than technical capability.
The handling of internal users, consultants and external users may also come up.
You often have to go through a long discussion about alternative ways to structure things before clicking a small set of checkboxes. This may involve multiple meetings with different stakeholders being brought into the discussion.
It is not the clicking on the checkboxes that the client is paying for.
In a SaaS environment there is coordination with SaaS operations to make sure that test environments are set up, backed up and refreshed when required.
Configurations that require SaaS operations involvement has to be coordinated.
For the customer, the implementation is usually a once in a career activity and it is important for it to be successful since it has high visibility.
For the vendor’s installation team, each project draws upon the experience of previous projects and we bring the “lessons learned” from those projects.
At the end of the process, we have transferred as much of this knowledge and experience as possible to the client.
As SaaS with per-user pricing makes the on-going cost of the SaaS service affordable for every company – who can not pay $20-$30 per year per employee? – and the top LMS products are going to be adopted by companies that could never have thought about this before.
With respect to consulting costs, the improvement in LMS configuration functionality is offset by the growing complexity of the environment and the increased client expectations.
The cost of the implementation may be a barrier at the small end.
The ROI calculation has to be made with all of the costs in mind.
On the other hand, the cost savings in a single area such as compliance management or risk mitigation can be compelling even for a small company.
Artifact Software has developed a flexible implementation plan based on the user’s requirements that we can determine during the sales cycle. This removes the cost associated with optional items that the client does not need.