New year, new learners: is it time to change your LMS?

Your existing LMS is likely to have developed into the core backbone of your learning and development strategy, and thanks to its various updates and customisation through the years, it now enables you to streamline your learning delivery one way or another.

But it’s now 2018, and the way we learn is changing.

Learners perceive online platforms differently due to being exposed to best-in-class interfaces across their everyday lives. This change in user expectations and the need to reflect this in the modern workplace is the primary driver for looking to update your LMSOf organisations looking to change their LMS, 88% cite the need to improve the end user experience as the main driver [1]. 

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If I change my LMS, will it bring about real change?

Changing your LMS can be as daunting – if not more so – as choosing your first ever LMS. Although you’ll be more aware of LMS capabilities and your requirements, many L&D professionals still wonder if changing their current system will address their existing system’s insufficiency that sparked the initial interest in changing systems.

Choosing and implementing a new LMS

What question should you be asking when thinking of changing your LMS?

Ask yourself: why do you want to change your LMS? Think about the benefits you expect to see, and whether your new LMS will deliver enough value to make the time, cost and energy in changing providers worth it. You will need to be able to justify the change to stakeholders, budget holders and ultimately the learners themselves as to why you changed your system, and how it will supersede your existing system.

Factors you ought to be considering include:

1. The user experience

The majority of internal company systems lag behind the websites and platforms with which employees engage with outside of the workplace. This is where employee communications come into their own: speak to your learners and find out what they like (or dislike) about your current LMS. Your LMS shortlist should be based on balanced input from end-users and administrators.

2. The desired levels of user engagement

Do not assume your learners’ interest in the LMS! Work closely with them to understand what they want from the system, and document their use and the user journey. Ask prospective vendors to demonstrate how they approach user journeys and how the system reports on this.

3. The administration of learning

Your administrators represent just a small percentage of the actual user base of your LMS, but are critical to its success. Find an LMS that enables you to deliver the management and coordination of your learning activities in the most efficient manner.

Also consider how your learning activities are designed. The more complex they are, the more you will face difficulty in finding an LMS provider that can support your activities. Map out your current activities and look at how these could be simplified.

4. The reporting of learning experiences and impact.

The use of data in business is changing. Organisations are increasingly inclined to see data as a way to predict behaviour and outcomes. Take the time to document things you would like to change and work with stakeholders to understand where they see reporting and measurement leading.

5. The need for mobile accessibility

Look at how your users are currently engaging with your LMS. Do you require accessible content anywhere, anytime, anyplace? Might you need offline capabilities? Is your current learning content mobile-ready? If not, make sure that your prospective LMS vendors can provide the offering that you require for learning on-the-go.

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6. The need to support social and informal learning

It’s likely that your current LMS was procured originally to support ‘formal’ learning. However, more and more organisations are embracing social and informal learning approaches. This may require a cultural shift in your organisation, so consider the weightings that your prospective vendors place on the importance of social learning. This could be in the form of ‘rating’ learning courses, so users can see what has been recommended by their peers.

7. The need to carry over previous learning records

How are you going to manage the migration of data from the old system to the new? Do you want to make any improvements to the quality of data held? Now is the time to consider what to do with your historic records. You will also need to consider if these records will be affected by Data Protection laws.

8. Content creation and curation

If your current LMS was implemented to support the delivery of either off-the-shelf content or custom e-learning content, and perhaps the management of classroom training, you may be looking to increase your options. Do you need the new system to allow you to create content from within it, or are you now looking for administrators to create or curate their own materials for sharing with others?

9. Who is driving the need to change?

Ensure that all interested parties – from users, IT and HR, and heads of the different business units – have had their thoughts heard and can see their requirements reflected in the solution you ultimately choose.

It’s time to change my LMS

To successfully change your LMS, you must allow an equal voice to those in L&D, IT and the end-users themselves. A successful user experience is also routed in the system being able to support the smooth delivery of that experience.

This relies on underlying concepts and processes being made straightforward; consider why you are considering a change from your current system in the first place. Take a look at your current system and compare its published list of features to those that you actually use. Opt to invest in a new system that addresses your particular requirements, having assessed your shortlisted vendors’ approaches against your measures of success.

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[1] “Brandon Hall Group Learning Technology Study”, 2016

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