Before jumping headfirst into an LMS update, break down your organization’s needs and establish an execution plan that will guide you through the process. Since updates can affect other people and their productivity, you’ll want to do your due diligence and gather relevant information as it relates to your organization’s goals. To achieve optimum success, it takes research, detailed organization, and a thorough review of various LMS features to see which ones meet your particular needs.
Keep these essential questions in mind while you explore different possibilities for your LMS.
- Is an open source LMS right for my organization? An open-source or a proprietary LMS – one of your most crucial upfront decisions. Excelling in online collaboration and overall communication, open-source LMS gives you the freedom to customize to your unique requirements. Integrate third party add-ons for your needs and get answers quickly by accessing the online support database which saves time and effort. Developers from around the world regularly create, test, and comment on code and plugins. An open source LMS means you can grow with the open source community too!
- How do I want to support my LMS? Some LMS’s are hosted by an outside company while others are self-hosted. According to Unboxed Technology, selecting an open-source LMS and attaining another hosting provider reduces IT operative costs by 40% and increases flexibility by consenting to customization. No matter which hosting plan you choose, ensure it gives you anything you need from storage to performance expectations.
- What are the upfront costs? Decrease the chance of hidden costs by comparing a few different LMS vendors. Do they bundle product features or let you purchase them a la carte? Paying for only what features you need saves time and money. Other considerations include the servers you will use, hosting providers, and types of contracts. Inquire about a trial period to review the LMS hands-on so you can decide if it will meet your expectations.
- What are long-term costs associated with the LMS? Consider future budget allowances and constraints when choosing an LMS. Closely examine recurring charges such as support and maintenance, licensing fees, hosting, upgrades, and renewal fees. For long-term contracts, pay close attention to the small font. As eLearning Industry points out, review the “divorce clause” to see if they will help migrate your content to another system if your company is unhappy with its performance.
- What kind of training and prior knowledge do I need? Depending on who has access to the LMS, think about its ease of use. Understand that it takes time and effort for many individuals feel confident with any system, especially one of this magnitude. An intuitive system with a clean design makes it fairly easy to navigate and helps simplify the learning curve.
- Is the LMS customizable or is there limited capability? An LMS that seamlessly integrates with another software such as CRMs and financial systems requires plugins to meet each of your requirements. For example, Moodle™ offers a massive database of available add-ons or plugins, as well as high levels of customization. Customization gives you the control! Also, as technology continues to play a larger role in people’s lives, look for a responsive LMS that accommodates diverse screen sizes – from desktops and tablets to mobile devices.
- What are the essential features and functions I really need? Define your organization’s LMS objectives early as revise them annually. With these objectives in mind, compile a list of features and break them down into priorities such as needs, wants, and wishes, as EDUCAUSE reports. For instance, mandatory and essential would fall under needs; whereas, any nice-to-have extras would classify as wishes. Remember, take your time and develop a realistic set of requirements. You’ll be glad you did!
- What support services are offered with the LMS? Talk with potential vendors about the level of support and troubleshooting efforts they provide – do they offer 24/7 assistance including online chat, phone, and email? Do they offer courses for administrators? If you have a skilled team, then you may only need minimal assistance rather than round-the-clock. Also, discuss what your vendor’s support entails and how much support you can rely on on-demand, especially if limited to a certain number of hours monthly or annually.
Inquiring about the components that shape an LMS guides you to find one that provides an intuitive and pleasant experience for learners.