The Supremes famously told us that “you can’t hurry love”, and while choosing an LMS isn’t quite like falling in love, we can still heed the lessons of Ms. Ross. If you want your training program to be a success, don’t settle for “good enough” when you choose your LMS software.
The Dangers of a “Good Enough” LMS Software
Choosing the right LMS software for your organization is a time and money-intensive proposition. Despite tips and tricks to help you break this process down into manageable chunks, there’s no denying that it takes a lot of effort to choose just the right learning management system. What happens if you don’t put in that effort? Maybe you’re not sure if all the time and money is really worth it. After all, LMSs must be pretty similar, right?
LMSs have the greatest impact on overall cost of training. But, according to a recent study published by Capterra, 26% of people are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their current LMS. Read on to see how you can avoid the damaging trap of “good enough”.
How a Good Enough LMS Can Damage Your Training
What kind of damage are we talking about? An LMS that is merely good enough can result in:
A. Poor Learner Motivation
Motivation is key to the success or failure of your training program, as even the best LMS will fail if your learners do not use it consistently.
You may think your chosen LMS is good enough if it offers, for example, an easy-to-use interface and interactive features.
However, is this enough in today’s marketplace? It’s important to choose an LMS that will give you more than the bare minimum (and yes, a user-friendly interface should be the very least you expect of your LMS!).
To really motivate your learners, you should look at features such as:
- Open Badges: Recognize learners for their achievements with Open Badges, which are embedded with metadata detailing skills and certifications, and sharable across social media platforms. Open Badges have been proven to increase participation, course completion and exam pass rates.
- Gamification: Does your chosen LMS offer a tier system, points, or a leaderboard? Tap into the innate competitiveness of your learners with features that both motivate and make learning fun with gamification, which not only creates competition, it also fosters cooperation, giving both internally- and externally-motivated learners reasons to participate.
- Multilingual Capability: One of the challenges of today’s global marketplace is the need to reach learners that speak any number of different languages. You may think your LMS is “good enough” if it offers multiple languages, but nothing will sap the motivation of non-English speaking learners like poorly done translations. Look for an LMS that translates navigation instructions, and uses native speakers to translate content, not automated computer programs.
Of course, there are many more LMS features than these, and only you know which ones are just right for your organization. The point is that it’s important to put in the time and determine which ones you need. Don’t invest in an LMS with the assumption your must-have features will be included!
b. Incomplete Reporting
Sure, all LMSs have some sort of reporting capability, but if you aren’t able to pull the right reports for your organization, you’re going to run into some trouble pretty quickly.
Users who are dissatisfied with their LMS’s reporting capabilities most frequently complain about usability issues and the lack of standardization and customization. Most importantly though, there is a difficulty in accessing information needed to support their business planning and strategy.
Reporting allows you to:
- Improve your training. Tracking completion rates, number of log-ins and assessment data all allow you to see what’s working and what isn’t. Maybe your learners prefer bite-sized learning, or more mobile learning options; maybe videos, job aids or cheat sheets are downloaded most. Once you know what your learners want, you can tweak your training program to maximize its benefits. Ensure your LMS is able to show you where your successes are; this will allow you to make the changes you need to maximize the positives in your training program.
- Prove your ROI. Odds are, you had to convince key stakeholders to invest in the LMS. These decision-makers will be very interested to see what kind of return on investment they are getting. If your reporting features don’t allow you to show how valuable your training program is, you may not be able to prove the value it brings to your organization, or get approvals the next time you present a training initiative.
c. Lack of Scalability
A learning management system that can adapt to your organization as it evolves is scalable. In a recent Capterra study, one of the main reasons users gave for changing their LMS was because it didn’t support their company size.
So, scalability is important. When you are talking to vendors about LMS features, ask about the scalability of their product. Find out how often the product is upgraded, what add-ons are offered, their ability to deliver to mobile platforms, etc., and make sure this fits with your future vision. An LMS that’s merely good enough may not be able to accommodate changes in training, or future requirements that arise as your organization grows.
d. Integration Issues
A common problem during LMS integration is that the LMS doesn’t “communicate” with the existing systems, making data migration difficult or impossible. Your LMS needs to integrate seamlessly with your organization’s existing systems (which may include a Human Resource Information System (HRIS), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or Customer Relationship Management (CRM)) to be effective.
Your LMS should operate seamlessly, and allow your users to work through a variety of systems, different browsers, and mobile as well as desktop devices.
How Can You Do Better Than Good Enough?
Hopefully you now have some idea of why good enough isn’t really good enough when you’re choosing a learning management system software for your organization. What can you do to ensure you don’t settle when choosing your new software?
Well, like I mentioned, the selection process can take a lot of time and resources, and there are some important steps you can’t skip. You’ll want to:
- Do your internal research – identify your business goals, develop a list of nice-to-have and must-have features, and define your ROI metrics.
- Do your external research – find vendors that offer not only the support you need but also the communication style you like, and who have experience working with similar clients.
- Look at your options – take part in demos and free trials to test-run a few LMSs and see what is out there before you make your final decision.
Download our LMS Buying Guide for more information on how you can make sure your decision to invest in an LMS doesn’t come back to haunt you.
This article has outlined some of the key dangers of choosing an LMS that’s just good enough, and shown why that’s not enough to ensure a successful training program. By learning some of the pitfalls that arise from making the quick and easy choice, and outlining some key steps you can do to make sure your LMS is a good organizational fit, you should now be better-prepared to go beyond good enough to great. An LMS is a huge investment, and a powerful tool in your training arsenal; take the time to ensure you choose the right one.