Learning management software provides a framework through which learning content is delivered and managed. There are many choices for LMS software, but each of them offers an online training workflow to handle functions including recording, storage, delivery, tracking, and certification of training activity. Some LMS choices also provide learners with certificates of completion and track expiration of certifications. In addition to these functions, an LMS should be able to help L&D identify gaps in skills and training and different sets of requirements including onboarding training.

Searching for a learning management system is a frequent task for learning and development organizations, whether as a new implementation or as a replacement for the currently adopted system. There are many factors affecting the choice of an LMS summarized in this article.

Which of these cases describe your situation?

Begin the selection process by identifying some of the major requirements, before you actually start looking at the choices. Do you have:

  • A stable number of learners who must receive specific required training?
  • A lot of turnover among learners, or a lot of one-time training requirements?
  • Learner cohorts that you can train at regular intervals?
  • Training requirements that vary a lot throughout the year?
  • Specific features needed for specific situations, or tailoring for different groups within the organization?
  • Staff who can customize the LMS, or do you need IT or an outside contractor to do this?

Features needed

Are there specific requirements that the LMS must be able to handle?

  • Customization of reports
  • SCORM compliant, SCORM conformant, or SCORM certified by ADL
  • Support for xAPI
  • Support for multiple languages
  • Analytics, including learner behavior, learner proficiency, learner satisfaction
  • Special delivery needs; such as managing podcast or video materials
  • Features matched to your industry or regulatory requirements (many if not most organizations find it necessary to adopt more than one LMS in order to cover a range of requirements)


What options are offered for paying for the LMS? Do these match up well with your situation (the beginning of this list)?

  • Pay per active user
  • Pay per learner
  • Pay as you go
  • License fee/subscription
  • Open source

Finding vendors

There are hundreds of LMS products available, and the number changes constantly. These three 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.

Ratings and RFPs

The sites listed immediately above this paragraph will help you locate information and user ratings of LMS offerings, but you will still need to pare down the list of candidates. The Request for Proposal (RFP) is the best way to approach getting the specifics you need in order to make a decision.