How To Choose the Right LMS Software for Small Business
Nearly 4 out of 10 U.S. companies that use eLearning are not content in their LMS. According to research conducted by Brandon Hall Group of LMS Trends 2015, the data show that 38% percent of companies surveyed are looking into changing their system. We collected information from experts in eLearning and put together a step-by-step strategy that can assist you in discerning the hype surrounding eLearning and figuring out how to select an LMS that meets your requirements.
Step 1. Define Your Needs
With hundreds of educational platforms available to choose from, it is essential to begin with clearly defined search criteria. It’s essential to know what you require to get from your LMS to determine how the platform will assist you in achieving your goals in training and business goals.
Establish the goal of your business that you’d like to achieve using the e-learning system. For this, you must ask yourself: “What do I want to achieve from training?”. Based on the answer you will know what outcome you can expect. Goals should be precise that are measurable, achievable and time bound. It is important to clarify how to achieve a goal and break it down into smaller steps. The result is a sensible plan of action.
Understand who is your audience
When you choose an LMS it is essential to determine the specific individuals you’ll be training. It will assist you in determining how to identify the requirements for your learning strategy within an LMS. To get a good picture of who your intended users are, take five questions.
1. What is the age of your employees? For example, when most learners are younger, they will surely appreciate sharing vital information with their peers as well as participating in social media-based discussions. Then you need to choose an LMS with social learning functions.
2. Does your workforce have different skill levels? If you’re planning to teach newcomers as well as veteran employees, you’ll require a system that can allow you to make different learning paths and tests of the content they already know.
3. What tech expertise is the workforce? If not all your employees are experts in digital technology, choose an LMS that’s easy to use and user-friendly.
4. What are the places your staff members learn? Ask your colleagues which times and locations are suitable for them to attend classes.
5. What number of employees will you educate? If your business is new on the market and you need a lot of employees, you might require a system with massive user registration functions.
If you answer these questions, you’ll be able to find the LMS features that are required to meet your learning goals and to make a welcoming, enjoyable learning environment.
Step 2. Identify Your LMS Requirements
Once you’ve identified the goals and objectives for learning and the demographics of the audience then you need to determine the requirements of the software. The more detailed the list you have of LMS requirements, the easier to identify the most appropriate solution.
It is important to determine your LMS requirements from the perspective of your company in three important categories:
- Functional Requirements: The functional LMS specifications are those of the real LMS features that users and administrators will use.
- Technical Requirements: If you’re deciding on the right LMS be sure to consider which features are essential to you and which aren’t worth your time. For instance, if you’re an academy that relies on regular assessments and grades you will require an advanced LMS that has a solid scoring system and the best security.
- Cost Considerations: If you’re looking for a learning platform, it’s impossible to avoid the financial aspect. To choose the right solution for your budget, be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of various pricing models, and then choose the one you think is best for your business.
Step 3. Analyze the Market
You’ve already identified the LMS features you’ll need as well as the price range. Now, the challenge is to narrow your options down to a narrow list of possible solutions. For a start, try one of these methods to choose a vendor:
- Ask your colleagues and friends which solutions they’re using. If you’re considering an LMS and have a friend who is using it, they’re an excellent resource, since they’ve had hands-on experience and can inform you about what’s happening.
- Review ratings and LMS reviews from LMS users. There are numerous websites, such as Capterra and G2Crowd that can assist you to evaluate different systems.
- Utilize the filtering tool found in Capterra’s LMS software directory to identify the essential features you need and narrow the list.
Step 4. Rate Vendors
If you’ve got your first-cut list, you’re ready to dig deeper and find out more about every LMS. The goal is to reach a “short-list” of 3-5 vendors.
- Visit the websites of vendors. Go through the webpage with details of the LMS description to determine whether the LMS has all the features you need check to make sure there aren’t many alternatives you don’t require. At this point, you should consider features as the primary choice criterion.
- Take a closer look at the seller and the vendor. Be aware of the length of time they’ve been on the market, and who their clients are. It’s always nice to know if the business or products it sells have been awarded any prizes.
- Read about the success stories and reviews from clients or companies who use this LMS.
- Check if there’s an information base on the website that includes the product’s documentation, how-to guides as well as video tutorials.
- Find out what’s happening by contacting technical support. A high-quality tech support service will provide quick feedback, the capability to reach them through various ways of communication, and efficient solution-finding.
- Find out how they manage updates. Ask the vendor whether they update the system regularly, when and how often you’ll receive updates, and if you will have to pay to receive them.
This will likely narrow your list of vendors to 5-7 that can meet your requirements.
However, be careful not to rely on the findings of your initial research to determine your choice, since it may lead to making the right decision. If you decide to select one of the learning platforms, it is necessary to examine them on your own to ensure that they follow the guidelines of the vendors. After you’ve used these tips, your shortlist will likely be reduced to 3 or 4:
- Test the LMS. Demos are crucial to get an idea of the platform and determine whether it can assist you in reaching your objectives. A majority of LMSs offer trial-free trials that typically last for 14 days. In this period, you can test the full range of features.
- Be sure that you are sure that the LMS is equipped with every feature you require and test how they function. For example, invite users, upload your training materials as well as assign content to learners and create your own courses and tests using the editor. Test additional features you might want to utilize.
- Think about selecting an LMS that has user-friendly interfaces from the beginning. If it’s difficult for you to figure out what to do when you add people or add the content they need, you’ll need to spend a significant amount of time learning the system and teaching students how to make use of it.
- Upload as many materials as you can in formats and sizes that you plan to use soon, assign them to employees and ensure the system is able to handle the load.
- Find out the services that tech support can provide and be sure you contact their support staff. Be aware of how fast you get a response, is it simple to get in touch with them.
- Create a Use Case to satisfy all business needs. The Use Case is a situation that is usually executed by users. If you provide them with an example of a particular use case, the vendor can customize the demonstration – for example, demonstrate the way it functions depending on your specific needs.
Step 5. Choose an LMS
It is sometimes the case that you are unable to choose between three or four finalist options, all of which will meet your needs. When you are deciding on the right product, you must create a list of the requirements you want to meet and submit it to vendors. LMS features, user-friendliness, accessibility in the cloud or not, the timeframe to implement along with support and maintenance final licensing cost – all of them contribute to selecting the best LMS. Examine the reviews and choose the LMS vendor whose terms are suitable for you the best.
To sum up
Selecting the right LMS may be a daunting task. However, following this guideline will make it easier to complete the process. Keeping these useful guidelines in mind will enable you to avoid the costly trial-and-error procedure.