Any business buying decision has to be rational. It demands you to study about the product more. Many times this becomes time consuming and tedious. We are going simplify selection of an LMS for you with this “Ultimate Checklist for Buying an LMS”. In this checklist we list all the features which you should look for in an LMS to make it a rational buy.
We will classify our rational thinking in THREE buckets,
- Functional benefits from the LMS itself
- Functional benefits from the latest technology used for LMS these days (e.g. SaaS, Cloud etc)
- Generic buying pitfalls one should avoid
So let us start :
1) Can I easily create/enter content?
Content Creation or Content Entry is one of the very basic requirement that your LMS must address. Ask this : Can we upload our existing images, videos, audios and PDFs into this LMS? Can we also easily type in our content here? Can we create our course index easily? Most of the LMS features will normally take care of these problems, what they will not take care of is content management/editing.
Ask your vendor what is their answer to this? Is there some best practice or tool they can suggest for the same?
2) Is the Course Delivery automatic? What features do I have in this LMS?
Content Delivery is the core feature of any LMS. This must be a mature one and should have multiple options. You should have an option to plan LIVE sessions with a zoom integrations. You should also have options to deliver the content fully or partially or as per conditions set by you w.r.t participants passing some test or completing some lesson etc. In short you should have all the online and offline learning options blended together.
3) Is there a community or a group feature? Can I have multiple groups?
Without Community or Groups feature, no LMS is complete. We learn more from peers than from the content or even teachers.
You must check whether the LMS that you are choosing, has a community or group feature in it. This will gives your participants the ability to have forum discussions on different topics, queries, best practices etc. A MUST HAVE feature!
4) Can I track my participants in LMS?
Tracking of students/participants, at least to the basic level, should be there in your LMS. This will help you monitor and steady the sheep. This should tell the % course progress of the participants, their scores in tests, as applicable and certificates delivered as a sign of course completion. This should be accessible to both individual participants as well as the manager/leader who ever is in charge of that learning program.
5) What is the Output I can get?
The basic output from any learning program can be the completion certificate to be delivered the individual course participants. It will be an icing on the cake if you get a technology which can help you Motivate, Track and Share the projects implemented by participants with the wider audience inside your organizations.
6) Do I need to set up and maintain the LMS software?
Now we are moving towards the new technology and whether the LMS that you are looking for using it to the fullest. In this new age of cloud and SaaS, you essentially rent out a software. You neither do any set up not any maintenance of the same. This leads to a lot of savings for you. Make sure that you use a SaaS LMS.
7) Will you get regular LMS software updates?
These days there is an upgradation in technology almost every day. One can not maintain pace on her own with these updates unless you are specifically an expert in that field. One of the major benefits of the SaaS is that you easily outsource the new updates to experts in the field.
8) How much customization am I getting?
While it is accepted that one can not demand too much customization, but most critical branding elements must be customized. See that the certificates that you award, your company profile and content protection under your logo is taken care of.
9) How good is their support?
There is no denying the fact that the product must be excellent, but there is also a fact that an excellent support can make an average product look awesome! Whenever you are looking to by any SaaS product, always look at the quality of support that you will be getting.
10) Is it on cloud?
If your LMS vendor is taking care of hosting all your content on his cloud, you are going to save extremely high amount of time, energy and money. These days LMS vendors offer hosting as well but ensure that they are not charging exorbitantly for the same. Although it is always wise to pay for hosting to your LMS vendor, be wise to select the right one.
11) How much hosting will I get with this LMS?
Hosting is the most important feature when you finalize on the LMS. The more you get the better it is. In learning world, it is all about the data. You will need to create more and more videos, infographics, images, PDFs, audios and what not. All of them will demand extremely high amount of space in the cloud and if this problem of yours is taken care by your LMS, nothing like it.
12) How much can this LMS automate my trainings?
Check out what specific automation options are available in the LMS under scrutiny. e.g. Can it deliver the content as per different fulfillment conditions such as completion of earlier lesson, can it drip the content at a schedule frequency, can it give access to all the content without any conditions or schedule? etc. Check out which similar options are important for your use case/s and accordingly plan the system automation. But remember the basics as below 🙂
13) Can you create Unlimited courses using this LMS?
More the number of courses you can create using the LMS, better it is. This will help you create courses which can be accessed by different groups of people within your organization, without worrying about any LIMIT. You can precisely control who want access to what.
14) How many certificates can be awarded?
Any learning is incomplete without a proper recognition. Certifications are a proven way to motivate your users and increase the course completion rates. The more certifications means more guarantee that your users will complete your courses and it helps for easy tracking as well.
15) How many users can this LMS handle?
Remember that you are buying an LMS to address the scale issues in trainings. Without your LMS handling as many users as you want, there is no point in using that technology. Most of the LMSs can handle more users for you but keep in mind the cost of doing that while finaizing on any one.
16) Can this LMS support multiple languages?
Many times you need to create content in specific local language. If this is your need, then check out which languages you can create content in the LMS in question. As an alternative to typing in different languages, if you can upload any PDF in the LMS, that itself can solve your requirement. Choose the options accordingly.
17) How much can this LMS Gamify?
This is the most important thing you should never forget to check. Gamification can be used to any level.
The basic gamification starts from simple certification to one whole course to individual certifications to each of the multiple quizzes inside one course to awarding points per course to leader board to monitor the top performers in the course to having activity feeds (just like facebook) which informs the participants about specific lesson being completed etc and can be extended even further to any stretch of your imagination.
The most important point here is to check the practical usability of the gamification.
Gamification should not be too complex, because in those cases it becomes too much to handle.
One of the thumb rules to be noted here is “Prioritization leads to Simplicity.” The ideal way should be to prioritize and start with the basic simple gamification and stretch it as you go ahead in your learning programs as per the culture of your organization. But one needs to check the capability of the LMS to handle whatever you plan to do in the near future as well as the long term.
18) Does it have Randomization of questions and answers? Can I check the number of attempts of the users to pass the quiz/es? Can we also track user logins in detail?
These are very special and in detail requirements. If you are from a specific industry which has extremely high amount of regulations in the trainings, you should think of them. Otherwise you can skip such in detail requirements.
19) How secure is this LMS?
This is a MUST HAVE thing. The security of your data from getting hacked is extremely critical these days. Do check out these all important features in your LMS.
20) How scalable will it be?
This is another must have LMS feature. The ultimate goal of any software should be scalability, otherwise no software is ideally needed. Do check out how much your LMS vendor canscale it up in terms of storage of data, number of users, gamification features and each and every important element that you are looking for.
21) Will it take care of the privacy of my users?
Privacy is going to be the focus on the internet in the next decade. It is going to be a must have, rather it has already started. If you are from European Union (EU) or have users from EU, you must follow GDPR guidelines which is a legal framework that sets guidelines for the collection and processing of personal information from individuals who live in the EU. Since the Regulation applies regardless of where websites are based, it must be heeded by all sites that attract European visitors, even if they don’t specifically market goods or services to EU residents.
22) What is the pricing? Will it save money for me?
It is important that pricing not only leads to substantial savings but also meets the cash flow related requirements. If you are going for (rather you should) SaaS LMS, the pricing in terms of pay as you go model will ensure that you don’t spend much (rather nothing ) on capex (Capital Expenditure) but more on Opex (Operating Expenses). The another flexibility you can have is anytime exit. If you don’t like the LMS, you can exit anytime. The new pay as you go pricing also takes care of scalability, making you pay more for more usage.
23) Do they have ready made courses?
Sometime you would like to get ready made courses to train your people. Although they might really not solve all your problems (as highlighted in the images below), but still it is good to ready made course library from your LMS vendor.
But always check out how much you pay for it. It should not happen that you pay too much for something which is not going to help your people perform better on the ground.
24) Is there any other benefit from this vendor?
Few LMS vendors can offer you more features/functionalities which might be adjacent to L&D function (e.g. Content Creation tools, Consulting related to L&D BEST Practices, Ready made templates for onboarding or specific industry specific needs, advanced social learning platforms etc. Do check out what suits for your organization and decide accordingly.
25) Will this vendor remain in the long run?
This is the most important question to ask for yourself. Look at the pedigree of the vendor, look at their commitment to learning field, look at their financials (don’t just go by the team size or jazzy offices or salesy pitches, many times in today’s open sourced and free world, the smartest companies are extremely lean), in short, try to find out their longevity.
26) Can I get easy exit, anytime?
Last but not the least, the exit options. This is your fall out plan. If something goes wrong, what is the cost of exit? First of all, can you get it? If yes, how easy it is? How much time and energy it demands? If you get satisfactory answers to this, you are good to go.
We hope this “Ultimate Checklist for Buying an LMS” is useful to you. At GetAConnect, we have built an LMS platform which takes care of almost all of these features/requirements. Do check out more here and book a demo call with us to know more.
Thanks for reading and our BEST wishes to you for your future!
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