The potential for customer training organizations to increase revenue and customer adoption is enormous. But if your company is like most, you are probably struggling to identify and build the necessary infrastructure to take full advantage of that untapped potential. Read on for insights on the search for the ideal learning management system (LMS).
To dig a little deeper into some of the challenges they are facing as they choose and implement a new learning management system, TSIA interviewed some of its Education Services members. In this blog, we will cover how companies are realizing that not all learning management systems are built with the same capabilities, some lessons learned, and best practices in choosing the right LMS for your organization.
What Was the Original Intent of Learning Management Systems?
Originally, the learning management system was intended to manage student records, registration, scheduling, reporting, etc. When you throw in a pandemic where companies are having to pivot to 100% online and virtual instructor-led learning, companies are realizing that they need more from their LMS.
Not only are companies asking their learning management system to perform the capabilities previously listed, but they also need the LMS to be a digital learning platform, a learning experience platform, a content management system, and on top of all that, the learning management system needs to provide monetization capability (e.g. e-Commerce, decrement training credits, count down months on a subscription, etc.). Unfortunately, there is no single system that is capable of performing all these functions.
Digital Learning Platform
First, let’s talk about the digital learning platform. One of the members we talked to has created a customized learning platform. Recognizing that technology is always changing, they want to stay ahead of the game. For this reason, they didn’t want to be beholden to one specific vendor that might make timely customizations difficult and therefore chose to develop their own platform. This is where the learning experience platform (LXP) comes into play, which we will discuss next.
Additionally, we spoke to a few other members who are using off-the-shelf LMS platforms. If customizations are required, this work is unfortunately handed off to a third-party vendor. You might ask yourself, how is this efficient? Customizations often decrease manual processes, which in turn increases ROI.
One member we interviewed recently implemented a new learning management system that costs just $3000 a year more than the previous system they were using, however, via customizations they cut down on the manual processes they were having to perform. They saw a decrease of 42 hours of manual processing across 13 functional areas. This is providing a huge return on investment not only for their education services organization, but for the company overall.
So, there are options out there, you just need to decide which system best fits your needs.
Learning Experience Platform
Learning Experience Platforms (LXP) are the next big thing in customer training. If you are not using one currently, or haven’t thought about it, now is a good time to put it on your radar.
As technology evolves, users are looking for a more customized learning experience. They want a learning path that is tailored to their learning needs. Such tailoring may include searching for content across the company, not solely from within the customer training organization. This is especially important now as we don’t know if/when classroom training will be available again.
Some members think that the LXP is 3-5 years out, but they all agree that this is the direction that the learning experience is moving.
Content management is another capability many education organizations wish their learning management system provided. Most members use a separate vendor for this and mentioned that the content management system and the LMS are not integrated. Content management systems do not serve up content, they are merely a repository for it, which begs the question: why can’t a learning management system have the capability to be a content management system as well?
Let’s talk a little bit about the monetization functionality of the learning management system. Whether or not you currently choose to use the e-Commerce functionality of your learning management system, it should be ready to go “out of the box.”
Some of our Education Services member companies have used e-Commerce functionality immediately, while others have the capability, but do not currently use it, and instead transact through a corporate e-Commerce system. E-Commerce is particularly useful for individual training purchases that tend to be a smaller dollar amount.
Another thing to consider is the currency you want to transact in. Transactions could become complicated if you choose to transact in a currency other than USD, as currency conversion comes into play.
In addition, something to think about is whether or not you provide training credits or support a learning subscription model. These types of training offers would also need to be built into the monetization functionality of your learning management system.
Lessons Learned and Best Practices:
So how do you go about starting the search for a new learning management system? First you must establish the requirements of the platform. Do you need a system that:
- Manages scheduling/registration/students
- Manages the learning experience
- Manages content
- Manages digital delivery
- Manages e-Commerce
Our members are finding out that their customizations within a learning management system are limited in providing all of the above, leading to the realization that there is no one standalone technology that really does it all.
Findings and Considerations
In our conversations with Education Services members about learning management systems, several key points emerged:
- When you are ready to begin shopping for a new learning management system, one of the first things you should understand is your business model, and what capabilities and functionality specifically are needed to support the business. Can you create different content for internal and external learners? What are the reporting capabilities? Can you track who is attending which class and how far along they are? Did they complete the course? Does the platform provide the ability to ‘nudge’ them with push notifications to complete their training?
- Another thing to take into consideration is the pricing model. Does your platform provider charge you per user if different email addresses are used or must they all have the same email address domain in order to get the best pricing?
- Lastly, another point of consideration is if your company requires the usage of one learning management system company-wide. The challenge with this model is that the system requirements for an external training audience, such as customers, is quite different from the requirements for an internal audience. Ultimately, your platform needs to be geared toward the wants, needs, and desires of your customer facing training organization.
These findings are just a few we have discovered in the conversations that we have had with some of our members. There are many options out there, and ultimately you are the one that understands your business and your business needs. We are still in the process of completing these interviews and look forward to sharing more results in an upcoming research report.
To learn more about how learning management systems fit into the larger picture of Education Services adoption, read the “Education Services Adoption Playbook.”