The availability of learning management system (LMS) options can seem endless. According to Market Wired, ”the LMS market is forecasted to be worth $7.83 billion by 2018.” There are proprietary software options as well as free, and even open source software options. Though remember, price does not dictate quality. Nor does free really mean free. Selecting an LMS can be a daunting task, but is achievable. It is important to identify your business requirements and then apply them through research to narrow down the search. Depending on who you ask, business requirements will vary. However, the five Ws: who, what, where, when, and why are a good place to begin. Here are five broad questions including sub categories to assist in identifying your business requirements.
Who is your target audience?
There are standard LMS features, but certain tools and features cater to different industries. For example one LMS may focus on businesses that want human resource tracking and compliance, where another LMS focuses on delivery of online courses and training. Is your target audience students, employees, or clients?
What is your budget?
Most people start out wanting the “Ferrari” product, but soon realize their budget is more of a “Honda.” Hondas are great products too. However, it is best to determine your budget prior to wasting time on an LMS that is out of the budget range. That said, if your budget is limited do not automatically jump to open source software. Be aware of the hidden costs in “free” solutions including the need for experienced IT people on staff to implement them. Even if your budget is large it is best to identify needs and wants and then select the appropriate LMS that fulfills them, rather than just going for the most popular LMS out there.
Where do you plan to host the software?
Technical requirements are key and can quickly assist in narrowing down options. Most people opt for the software-as-a-service (SaaS) option due the accessibility, reliability, and scalability provided by that model. The SaaS model requires minimal technical support. The LMS provides technical support, maintains the hardware and software and upgrades are as simple as the click of a button. An installed option, however, can offer more customizability and ensure security compliance. When do you plan on implementing the LMS? Obviously, it is best to take time to consider your choices and transition from current to new LMS over time, but that is not always an option. If you need to move quickly ensure that the new LMS is able to accommodate a fast transition. Remember to backup all of the data in your current LMS and keep a copy in case you need it later. Only move what you need into the new LMS. Sometimes it is best to begin fresh and build the course from scratch. Implementing a new LMS is an excellent time to revamp or enhance current content.
Why are you searching for an LMS?
The features and tools are typically the main reason people search for a new LMS. Create a survey and poll your instructors and users on their needs, wants, and desires. Analyze the results and determine the frequency to identify commonalities. It is recommended that you identify a key stakeholder from each area and create a committee to assist in the LMS selection process. Here are a few features the committee should consider:
- Video conferencing
After the business requirements are identified and the survey results are analyzed the next step is to research LMS options that meet the criteria. Schedule demonstrations of the LMS software and request trial accounts for testing. Have your super users setup a course and determine how user-friendly the software is and whether it has the appropriate features and tools. If possible have one of the users review the course and obtain their feedback. Present the information to the committee and schedule a second demonstration to answer outstanding questions. Obtain LMS pricing and then present the information to the committee for a final review and recommendation.
Finally, begin the implementation process and enjoy your new LMS.
Like this advice? Selecting-an-LMS-Checklist to refer to during your process.
Originally published on Capterra blog.
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