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For any organization, moving its training program online can be a daunting task. The need to manage the content along with a robust management system could result in migraines for management. Furthermore, the presence of numerous vendors in the market adds its own little twist to the story. Assuming the training resources are sorted, the major task of procuring a management system to deploy the resources is an exercise one cannot escape from. Therefore, to simplify the selection of a Learning Management System, below is an exercise list, to ensure you procure the best LMS for your organization.

1. Get Your Objectives Straight

Beginning with the process involves asking the right questions. It begins from the basic “4W’s1H”; Who will be using the LMS? Why is the LMS needed? What will the LMS be used for? Where will the LMS be used? and How will the LMS be used? The answers to these questions will go a long way in helping you narrow down the requirements. For an organization, an LMS will be needed for employee training management due to the high complexity and investment in traditional training programs. This will involve the various teams in the organization. The training manager will oversee the operations of the LMS, while the HR department can oversee the evaluation.

2. Identify Your Requirements

Post the needs analysis, further introspection is required for the finer points such as the deployment model of the LMS. There will be a need to accommodate on-site employees. Accordingly, investment in the LMS will be affected based on an in-house system or a cloud based system. Selection of an open-source or closed-source LMS, and provision of support and backup are also important aspects to consider. Moreover, assessing the simultaneous users can help estimate the required licenses for the LMS, which can further advance budget estimations. Get your employees involved, their inputs can help simplify the selection process. They would be the best judge to shortlist an LMS based on the features and usability. Post the data compilation, create an LMS wish list to clarify the features your organization needs in an LMS.

3. Explore and Shortlist Vendors

Once you have all the estimates and requirements, it is time to send out feelers to the vendors. The suggested input here would be to opt for a vendor with a local presence. This makes availing support simpler. Yet, if you feel your requirements are better fulfilled by an off-site vendor, you could opt for one. Evaluate the online presence of all the vendors, including their demo and free trials. Some parameters to judge a vendor includes:

  1. LMS features
  2. Service support
  3. Mobile ready
  4. Form factor and functionality
  5. Case studies
  6. Client testimonials
  7. Vendor employee workforce
  8. Vendor business sustainability
  9. Future LMS upgrade plans
  10. Compatibility with training resources (Applicable to organizations switching to another LMS).
  11. Features to pricing ratio
  12. SaaS availability.

Select the vendors which fit your criterion to proceed further with. The tact lies in finding the right balance. Be thorough in your research for vendors. You can refer to many online directories. But if you are looking for something specific, referring niche sites can be handy. Furthermore, referrals, conferences & events are also good avenues for vendor hunting.

4. Develop and Issue Request for Proposal

Once you have a vendor master list ready, it is time to begin shortlisting. You need to analyze the vendors based on their ability to fulfil the requirements of your organization. Post the initial evaluation and vetting of the vendors, develop and put forth an RPF. Once the vendors revert, you will have talking points for furthering the process. For the RPF demo, involve your training management team, as well as your employees to test the usability. This feedback will be important on judging the LMS based on its ease of use for the employees and the management alike. Test the LMS using your company resources to judge the LMS’s capability for files’ compatibility.

5. Grade and Evaluate Vendors

Post the revert from the vendor, your team will have used the demo LMS and will be in a good position to rate the LMS. Based on the ratings received, you can grade and evaluate the vendors and their capabilities. The shortlisted vendor should be the one whose LMS matches your requirements either perfectly, or else the closest. The basic parameters to consider in rating an LMS include the following:

  1. The form factor of the LMS
  2. Ease of use
  3. Compatibility with your resource files
  4. Vendor support post deployment
  5. Ease of maintenance by training manager
  6. Deployment model

6. Shortlist and Negotiate

On narrowing down your choice post the screening process, it is time to negotiate. Meet with the vendor to reach an agreement that works for both, you and the vendor. You could negotiate on some points to get a better deal or improve your plan for a discounted price. Discuss with the vendor on appropriate timelines for deploying the LMS and providing regular support for the same. It is a good option to agree upon regular updates for the LMS, as and when the vendor releases them. This ensures your LMS is up to date and there are no bugs in the system.

Obtaining an LMS for your organization is a major investment, hence it is imperative to get it right the first time. Proper care needs to be taken to ensure all bases have been covered. Ending up with an LMS which does not suit your organization will result in a major loss in terms of training as well as financial losses.  Precaution is better than cure, and it very well applies in the case of selecting an LMS. Be thorough, be patient, and cover all the bases when selecting an LMS.

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