A tablet with an LMS calendar
Learning management systems continue to mature PHOTO: Unsplash

There is no shortage of enterprise learning management systems on the market. In fact, you could argue that there are a few too many — complicating the process of actually choosing and adopting an LMS.

To help smooth out the selection process, CMSWire has taken advice from industry practitioners and experts to figure out what businesses should keep in mind when choosing an LMS.

1. Define Objectives

First things first, you’ll want to outline the goals you want to achieve through your future learning management system. Whether that’s to improve staff knowledge about your product lines, educate partners or inform the public, you need to know what your objective is in order to plan for it effectively. according to Tony Coppa, VP of Product Strategy at London-based AvePoint. “[Before selecting an LMS, brands need to] define clear objectives. For example, [what are your] required features, functions and specific configurations? This will avoid vague requirements and poorly defined success metrics, while also ensuring a properly configured LMS,” Coppa said.

“Understand your organization's needs and nuances; your users' needs and experiences; work functions and roles; and required competencies and training needs,” he continued.

Related Article: What is a Learning Management System

2. Hunt For ML-Driven and Performance-Based Training Features

A great LMS doesn’t just present materials to learners. It takes the learner’s performance and progress into account to let the company identify knowledge gaps that may impact their bottom line. “Platforms capable of automatically analyzing training data for individual users combined with data on their performance can help identify the impact of their training on the company’s business objectives,” said George Elfond, the CEO of Rallyware.

“Choosing a platform with Machine Learning capabilities is critical for the development of a truly individualized, intelligent system — one that learns as the employee learns and keeps up with his or her evolving development needs,” he explained.

3. Make Mobile Mandatory

The usage of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets can no longer be understated. In 2018, American adults are expected to spend an average of 2 hours and 51 minutes on mobile media. “Frustration-free mobile design is a key component of any smart training platform. Mobile design extends the value of training by making it available anywhere and anytime. Mobile design allows for learning across multiple contexts, through both social and content interactions. This not only makes training immediately relevant but also more engaging for workers, especially when they are able to access it at a time that works for them,” said George Elfond, CEO of Mountain View, Calif.-based Rallyware.

Steven Kellow, Digital Marketing & PR Executive at TEFL Org, concurred adding, “The LMS needs to be accessible and just as functional on mobile so that students can access their courses from anywhere and work on them from any device.” But, taking things a step further, Kellow shared, a great LMS isn’t just available on mobile devices, it excels on smaller screens. “It needs to be easy to find what you’re looking for in an LMS, whether it’s your next lesson or assignment, or your overall grades," he said. This needs to be as intuitive for the user as possible to make sure they spend their time actually learning rather than navigating the system, Kellow cautions.

4. Search For Social Learning Features

According to Elfond, learners using an LMS learn more, are more engaged, and retain knowledge longer when they collaborate. Hence, he’s a big advocate of brands searching for social and collaborative features in their LMS. That way, learners don’t just absorb knowledge, they discuss and share it, too. “A smart training platform that facilitates collaboration creates communities within the workplace. Improving engagement among employees – with each other, their managers, and the company. Smart training platforms offer your employees the ability to see and share their activity feeds, to comment on their progress, to give and receive feedback from each other,” he explained.

Related Article: The LMS Guide: 42 Enterprise Learning Management Systems

5. Go Deep With Data & Analytics

On top of the machine learning driven data mentioned previously, Karen Hebert-Maccaro, PhD, the Chief Content Officer at Sebastopol, Calif.-based O’Reilly, called for brands to be braver when it comes to their data collection by pushing past, what she calls meaningless metrics. “Look for learning tools that are able to report on adoption patterns. This goes beyond often meaningless metrics, such as completion and time-spent, and includes learning behavior analysis and outcomes assessment,” she said.

“When selecting an LMS, look for one that measures things like linear and non-linear behavior, whether learners are staying tightly focused on one subject/topical area or bouncing around. The LMS should also provide data about the types of courses or quizzes that learners are completing. These measurements are more valuable and actionable than knowing simply how many hours a certain population spent on an LMS platform,” said Hebert-Maccaro.

6. Content creation and curation

A strong LMS should also help the company in charge, produce and curate content for the benefit of its learners. “When evaluating LMS platforms it is helpful to leverage a solution that allows to you easily create content capture knowledge and transfer expertise across your organization,” said Koreen Pagano, Product Management Director at Kitchener, Canada-based D2L. “Content creation makes it ease to scale knowledge transfer from subject matter experts throughout the organization and across offices. The curation side allows for the centralization of content in one area and in one engagement portal,” she said.

7. Watch Out For Video Learning Features

Pagano went on to explain the importance of video-based learning, too. “Having a component for video is essential in a new learning environment. The modern learner no longer relies on books and texts for information but turns to videos and visuals to truly understand a concept,” she said. This makes total sense when you consider the spike in video marketing strategies, as well as the fact that by 2019, video content will account for 80 percent of the world’s internet traffic. In other words, video content is in.

8. Develop A Training Strategy

You might think that your training strategy should be developed after your LMS has been selected, but it may help to do that before you make a final choice, to ensure your LMS meets the needs of your strategy. Coppa advised brands to, “develop a training strategy, which may include appropriate materials and approaches for different groups of users in the organization to utilize the LMS to its fullest potential. This will maximize the value of time spent on training and informal practice.”