Some strategic ideas on choosing an LMS

This article was prompted by a LinkedIn discussion about choosing an LMS. There are a lot of choices for LMS solutions that range from open source to the top-of-the-line commercial products. To make the right choice, you need to look at a lot of factors. Price used to be a big factor but with SaaS hosting offerings becoming the norm, the cost per student is well within the budget of almost any organization. Implementation is still an issue for small organizations but as the top systems get to be more user-configurable it becomes easier to develop an implementation path that is rapid and cost-effective while leaving the door open for tweaking and turning on new features after the system is up and running. I would suggest looking at the use case first. Is it for a one-off training event or is it the start of a project that will lead to an integrated L&D program that covers training, assessment, certification, talent management and succession planning? Do you only need to support a small catalog of on-line activities or do you need to support a full catalog that includes blended learning course where a course consists of a number of resources such as books, downloads, WBT, webinars, classroom offerings, on-the-job training or mentoring and manager/mentor assessments. Do you need to synchronize with an HRIS system? Do you need to feed data back to a workforce planning/scheduling system? Do you need to support people who are off-line when training is most convenient? Do you need to support mobile devices? It is also important to look at the vendor’s ability to support your regulatory and industry environment. These will have an important impact on your choice of an LMS. Do you have industry-specific regulatory requirements that require excellent audit trails with electronic signatures for all activities including L&D? Do you need to track course versions and version-specific certification to implement certification policies? Do you have IP or privacy concerns and need a hosted solution that is EU Safe Habour or SAS-70 certified? If you are looking for an LMS, you should find out if your organization (usually IT department) has a subscription to any of the research companies such as Gartner, since they have feature checklists, RFP templates and product analysis documents that can be very helpful. More specialised HR research firms such as Bersin can also be a source of useful information and checklists. Artifact has been at the forefront of LMS implementation in the small organization and can help organizations get the solution that fits their needs, at a total price that makes sense for their situation.

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