A learning management system (LMS) is software that manages learners, instructional content, and the relationship between the two.
This article presents information about LMS software that should help you find a learning management system that matches your business needs. The article also includes links to three reliable, unbiased software review sites so that you can do side-by-side comparisons of LMS products. There are over 700 such products, so finding a short list of candidates that match your business use cases can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. I wish I knew an easy way to come up with that short list, but I haven't found it.
There are systematic ways to push the decision through a funnel and a couple of them are included here. They all require a lot of work (three months to over a year and probably a bit of negotiation), along with good information about the LMS products and a systematic approach. That’s what you will find here.
What is an LMS?
Learning management systems have been a key part of eLearning for years. They are still important, even as new technologies and approaches continue to evolve.
Beyond what I have already promised in this article, there are at least three reasons for going through a systematic approach. First, being systematic will save you time. Second, being systematic will give you assurance that you are using the same process that experts and professionals use. Third, when the process gets stalled over the price of your recommended solution, you will be speaking the language of the senior business leaders in your organization and the language that the LMS salespeople understand. Those three benefits will take weeks or even months off of your project.
There are many kinds of LMSs but they all have the same fundamental job description: they manage, distribute, and track employee training.
And there's more
The differences between the 700+ types of LMS software are the specific use cases that each was designed to support. Of course vendors enhance their LMS software so that it can perform other tasks, mainly repetitive administrative functions. These functions would include organizing the content, recording and reporting data, and enrollment, completion, and evaluation of training. In addition to eliminating the manual work involved in those functions, an LMS saves time as it measures results, documents compliance with regulatory requirements, and forecasts demand.
Systematic approaches to solutions
Learning Solutions has published a lot of content that addresses systematic approaches to the job of finding software that matches your needs. Here are three sources by experts (and a bonus) that are fundamental to understanding the strategies.
This is a Learning Guild Insights report by Jane Bozarth, the Guild’s director of research. It contains the results of a survey conducted in June 2023. 644 learning professionals responded to questions about which learning management system products their organizations are using, how long their selection and implementations took, and whether they are satisfied with their selections. They also told the Learning Guild about their favorite features, those still needed, and how the organizations are using the data generated by their LMS. Finally, respondents were asked to share their advice to those shopping for a new LMS (maybe their first).
This is a Learning Guild report of a survey conducted in 2013 by Steve Foreman, president of Infomedia Designs. 700 learning professionals participated. Steve Foreman analyzes the changing LMS landscape, critical evaluation and selection activities, how they are hosted, satisfaction measures and what features are most desired today, and discusses findings that indicate what’s needed to achieve the best results.
This article by Steve Foreman has been a very popular download since the day it appeared in Learning Solutions. Steve gives a blueprint of the five major steps in the evaluation and selection of an LMS. The article was selected as the basis for a Guild research report, Evaluating and Selecting a Learning Management System
If you are looking for a quicker read, you can find that in Learning Solutions with this summary for busy managers.
There are hundreds of LMS products available, and the number changes constantly. These websites provide comprehensive coverage of what's available, and they also provide ratings and different ways to sort the offerings so that you can match them to your requirements.
You will hear (have probably already heard) a lot of misunderstandings about the experience of finding and adopting a "good LMS." Don't be one of the mistaken ones. Use the systematic approaches here and keep your chin up. That will make you a winner in the LMS decisions to come in your career.