How To Choose The Right Learning Management System (LMS) for You

Your organization has decided to invest in a learning management system (LMS) to deliver and track online learning resources to learners. You’ve done the obligatory Google search. You’ve seen the Wikipedia definition and the options. But now what? How do you decide which one is right for you?

If you’re leaning toward a free LMS, check out this article, which includes tons of information about selecting a free LMS.

But if you’re looking at a paid LMS, you’ve come to the right place. With a little money to spend, you’ll have a much broader selection of LMSs to evaluate, but there are also a few more things you’ll want to take into consideration.

Here are some key features to consider when you’re looking at a paid LMS:

  • Pricing: How does the pricing work? Does it work well with how you plan to use the LMS? Is it flexible? How well will the LMS scale with the needs of your growing organization?
  • Branding: Do you need to be able to customize the look and feel of the LMS? If so, will the LMS let you do that? Will it cost more to create a custom UI?
  • Gamification and Social Learning: Do you want your learners to be able to connect with each other? Are features like badges and leaderboards an important part of your learning strategy? If so, you’ll want to investigate the LMS’s gamification and social learning features.
  • Hosting and Security: Make sure you loop your IT department in on the evaluation. You’ll want to find out whether your IT department allows cloud-based deployment or wants everything hosted behind the firewall. This is important, because some LMSs cannot be hosted locally.
  • Interoperability: Do you need the LMS to integrate with any other systems, such as HR software? For example, if your company is implementing the xAPI standard (also known as Tin Can API) for tracking learning, you’ll need to make sure the LMS supports xAPI standards.
  • eCommerce: Do you need to sell access to courses, either per course or by subscription? If so, does the vendor integrate with eCommerce solutions and how are these integrations supported?
  • Customer Service: Is customer service an add-on or is it included in the cost of the LMS? How much support do you think you’ll need? Does the vendor offer service level agreements (SLAs) for responding to outages or downtime? If so, what are the levels and how much do they cost?

Want to know more about how to evaluate and compare learning management systems? Check out software review sites such as Capterra, G2 Crowd, or TrustRadius, and, of course, ask the experts in E-Learning Heroes! They have a wealth of information to share. This compilation of forum threads about LMSs is full of great tips.

And if you’re struggling to train some learner groups with your LMS—like contractors, partners, franchises, or deskless workers—then try Reach 360, a premium add-on to Articulate 360 that lets you quickly distribute e-learning to more learners.

Mindy Smoak

I implemented an LMS for my company and the most important things we did: *Created an advisory committee to define all the needs and wants *Created a small RFP regarding what we were looking for and sent to 10 potential companies to respond - it focus on the needs and included some wants and potential future needs *Narrowed down to 4 and gave them use case studies to do a demo *Created an evaluation tool/spreadsheet to use for the demos *From the demos narrowed down to 2 that gave us sand boxes *Tested the sandboxes using the use cases I didn't do it in isolation, I ensured teams from customer service, training, marketing, Sales, the operations side, and IT were all involved. The biggest mistakes - we didn't identify a few key needs at the time, they came up later. I don't thi... Expand

David Glow

I wanted to chime in, because I have been through several LMS implementations, and I have consulted to help companies find the best LMS for their needs. Invariably, poor fit comes from one source- the purchasing company not defining it's requirements deeply enough before seeing vendor options. The company really needs to define exactly what they need the LMS to do and then ask the vendor to SHOW how it is done in the system. Why SHOW? Simple. If asked "can your system do X?" the answer is almost invariably "Yes", because it is almost always possible (technically speaking). HOW the task is done varies significantly platform to platform. In some it's a click or two. Others, it's additional tools (ka-ching!) and others it is a process that takes code and processes that would make a NA... Expand