The Business End of Learning Management Systems: What to Look for in a Good LMS

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Learning management systems (LMSs) have been used in academia for years now. Colleges and universities realized long ago that putting courses online could provide flexible and long-distance learning options for their students. Now, in the business world, many executives are beginning to see the advantages of LMS software solutions as well.

Instead of dumping new hires into a conference room to watch a series of training videos they’ll soon forget, LMSs can provide new recruits with the information they need in modules that can be completed on their own schedules.

“An LMS can be a big investment for a company, but there are many benefits to implementing one,” says Kaitie Connolly, director of product research for Capterra, a company that helps connect organizations with business software solutions. “It can help increase the efficiency and effectiveness of new hire training, getting new employees up to speed more quickly with on-demand and self-paced training rather than in-person training.”

The software isn’t just useful for new hires either. An LMS solution can support additional training for existing employees as well.

“An LMS can save your business time and money by ensuring all employees are up to date with compliance regulations,” Connolly says. “And it can be used for continuous education and professional development, something that often gets overlooked at a company but is extremely important to the growth, happiness, and success of your employees.”

What to Look For

Once you’ve decided an LMS might be of value to your company, you need to know what to look for.

“When shopping for an LMS, it’s important to keep in mind that a system that’s perfect for one company, may not be perfect for the next,” Connolly says. “So, start off by clearly defining your company’s needs and wants.”

Once you have that list, Connolly says, you can move on to the research stage.

“I strongly suggest demoing … multiple solutions and asking each software company tons of questions,” Connolly says. “You should also research a company’s track record. A great way to do this is through customer reviews. What are real customers saying? What are they happy about? What concerns them? Real users will give you more insight into the software than any demo ever could.”

ipadAfter you’ve conducted thorough research, you can start assessing prices.

“It’s an important factor, but only after you’ve defined what you need,” Connolly explains. “You’ll end up spending more money in the long run if you purchase an LMS system that doesn’t have everything you need.”

Capterra recently created reports on the most affordable LMS solutions and the most user-friendly LMS solutions that may be good places to start for companies that are at a loss.

While executives in the market for LMS software should conduct their own independent research based on the needs of their businesses, Capterra’s reports do take care of some of the legwork.

“For the user-friendly report, there are three sections that make up the report: usability (50 percent), customer service offered (30 percent), and customer reviews (20 percent),” Connolly explains. “For the usability section, five members of the Capterra team researched and determined eight common LMS tasks. They then tested those eight tasks in LMS systems and recorded the time and clicks it took each of them to complete each task. All systems were tested twice by each tester – the first time with no training to measure intuitiveness and a second time after conducting simple training provided by the software company.”

If your new hires are getting bogged down by outdated or ineffective onboarding methods, an LMS might be right for your company. If your employees seem disconnected or need company-wide training to update their skills, LMS software might also be right for your company. If you want to provide your workers with voluntary training opportunities to advance in their career, then – you guessed it – LMS software may be what you’re looking for. With hosted, cloud, and software-as-a-service options available, finding the right fit for your company is easier than ever before.

Jason McDowell holds a BS in English from the University of Wisconsin-Superior and an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. By day, he works as a mild-mannered freelance writer and business journalist. By night, he spends time with his wife and dogs, writes novels and short stories, and tries in vain to catch up on all of those superhero television shows.