Searching for an LMS

Hello - 

Our association is getting started on the development of an e-learning program, which we will ultimately deliver to our members and customers. We are developing our content in Articulate Studio '13.

We've started the search for an LMS and am a little overwhelmed by all of the options since we have little to no expertise in this area. In a nutshell, we need a user-friendly platform for delivering our content that allows us to brand our content, has an e-commerce component that allows us to sell our content, allows us to designate which users have access to what content, provides customizable reporting options, and provides user support for the individuals accessing the training content. A bonus would be something that integrates into our existing website so that our users can access content without having to go offsite. Our preference is for a hosted solution, but hosting something on our own servers is within the range of possibilities. 

I searched on the boards for LMS recommendations, but what I found was a few years old. Can anyone share your LMS experiences - what you've liked, and what you didn't? Any feedback would be appreciated. 

9 Replies
Julie Stelter
Laura Brumsey

we need a user-friendly platform for delivering our content that allows us to brand our content, has an e-commerce component that allows us to sell our content, allows us to designate which users have access to what content, provides customizable reporting options, and provides user support for the individuals accessing the training content. A bonus would be something that integrates into our existing website so that our users can access content without having to go offsite. Our preference is for a hosted solution,

Hi Laura,

You are not alone in being overwhelmed in choosing a LMS. You will want to add to your list integration with your Association Management Software (AMS). This will be critical in charging different rates for members and non-members, tracking certification, etc. The first step is to contact your AMS and see if they partner with an LMS. There has been tremendous consolidation in this area over the past 18 months. If that doesn't yield a solution, then spread your net wider. Be aware that if you don't go with the partner AMS/LMS, you'll have to pay for an API code to allow your AMS and LMS to talk to each other.

A published Studio file will work on the LMS if it's SCORM compliant. Add that necessity to your list.

Cheers,

Julie

Christy Tucker

I agree that SCORM compliance should be on your requirements list.

 

I also recommend you review this article series on Five Steps to Evaluate and Select an LMS. This starts from needs analysis and requirements gathering and guides you through the rest of the process. This will give you some more ideas on how to figure out what you need.

 

Once you figure out your needs, you can use Capterra's database to filter for systems that meet those requirements. If you still have over 100 LMSs on your list out of the 300+ in their database, go back to step one and refine your requirements. :)

Mohammad  Hassam

Hi Laura,

Hope you are well today,

Christy shared the link that will take you to the list of different LMSs. However, I also understand that since you are new in the LMS world, it will be difficult for you to figure out which one is the best.

I almost worked with 7 different LMSs and based on my experience, I prefer to come up with the following requirements before I take the decision.

1) SCORM Complaint version should be efficient - work with all the browsers
2) Reporting and tracking must be efficient
3) Budget flexibility - Since you are implementing in your own server the cost will increase.
4) What other modules you would like to integerate other than existing modules? For example: some people would like to add Single Signon module that will skip signin process. 
5) Number of licenses (Depending on courses or users)
6) Number of users (Different roles)
7) Customer support 
8) User based training
9) After sales service

Hope it helps.

Regards,

MH

 

 

 

Laura Brumsey

Everyone - thank you for taking the time to provide feedback. 

Finding an LMS that aligns with our member database is going to be tricky - instead of traditional AMS packages, we have a fairly antiquated custom system that has been developed and maintained in house. 

I am going to go do some reading on SCORM compliance and the other areas suggested above. 

Brenda Tyedmers

Hi Laura, 

Having been through an extensive but successful LMS procurement and implementation process, I offer the following:

- Bersin by Deloitte, and Gartner are great research sources on LMS procurement, functionality, support and service. Some reports are free, some are worth paying for. 

- define your organization's needs with all stakeholders, and make sure the needs are prioritized, and agreed to by the ultimate gatekeepers. Keep reminding people of the agreed-upon priorities throughout the process.  Separate NEEDS from WANTS

- define the internal decision-making process and keep the stakeholders up to date (keep reminding them of the business needs, they are all busy and distracted people)

- do a search for LMS RFP templates and make a good composite that meets with your purchasing/procurement department's requirements if relevant

- using sources like Bersin and Gartner (and more) do your research on the market - be aware of what's out there...then

- DON'T be distracted by the shiny stuff (they are ALL shiny with bells and whistles, especially when you are moving from a functional but basic in-house solution)

- focus your request for proposal (RFP), interview/presentations, proposal evaluation, use case scenario development, short list selection, system sandbox testing and final evaluation on your organization's NEEDS and priorities.  Be ruthless about this!  If you discover a new and valid need, excellent.

- again, don't be distracted by the shiny stuff

- get your IT people involved right at the start, more closely if there are any integrations with other systems besides identity management

- procurement will take long than you think

- system implementation will take longer than you think 

- configuring your system will take longer than you think (double it)

- rounding up historical training data and content will take you longer than you think (triple it)

- populating your system with historical data will take longer than you think. (double it)

- training LMS admins, managers and employees will take you longer than you think

- It's all well and good to have a good implementation...but really probe into what kind of service you will get from the LMS provider after the lights are turned on...that's one of the key priorities that made us choose the system we did

- use the procurement process as a test to see what kind of service you are getting, especially from the technical side of their business...the sales people are in a different group

Remember that there are DOZENS of fantastic systems out there that do what you need and more, and you will no doubt hear about new ones throughout the process (and individuals will advocate for them and you will grind your teeth off).  The trick is staying focused and finding a good provider (system and service) for YOUR organization's needs at the time you implement, and at least 5 years down the road. 

Hope that's helpful.

PS, we selected Plateau (subsequently bought by SuccessFactors just as implementation was completed, and then SAP).  

 

Kate Salvan

There are many Learning Management Systems that can be integrated into your eLearning website.
They can be divided into 2 groups:

Learning Management Systems, developed for Content Management Systems (CMS) (JoomlaLMS for Joomla!, LearnDash for WordPress, Opigno for Drupal, SharePoint LMS for SharePoint)
Learning Management Systems that are installed on a web server (Moodle, ATutor).

Learning Management Systems that are developed for CMS are characterized by extended functionality and smooth CMS+LMS integration. Usually, such eLearning solutions are recommended if you are completely satisfied with your current website and are not planning to move to any other platform in the nearest future. By means of integrating third-party extensions and plugins you can add any feature to your eLearning website thus making it suitable for any of your needs.