How to Select a Learning Management System (LMS): Saba Whitepaper

How to Select a Learning Management System (LMS): Saba Whitepaper



Research shows 25% to 40% of companies—despite investing millions—are unhappy with their current LMS and looking to upgrade or replace it. Unfortunately, many traditional LMS solutions don't meet ...

Research shows 25% to 40% of companies—despite investing millions—are unhappy with their current LMS and looking to upgrade or replace it. Unfortunately, many traditional LMS solutions don't meet critical business needs.

Selecting the right LMS can directly impact your company’s sales force effectiveness, revenue and customer satisfaction. But with more than 200 LMS providers to choose from, how can organizations select the right learning management system without making costly mistakes or wasting time and effort?

In this whitepaper from noted research analysts Brandon Hall, you will learn:

-Best practices to help ensure the LMS selection process focuses on business outcomes
-Step-by-step criteria for creating a manageable list of LMS solutions
-Guidelines for using high-value use cases to drive your selection process and outcomes

Download "How to Select a Learning Management System (LMS)" now and learn how to identify the right LMS solution up front, eliminate wasteful spending and make a positive impact on business results.



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How to Select a Learning Management System (LMS): Saba Whitepaper How to Select a Learning Management System (LMS): Saba Whitepaper Document Transcript

  • © 2012 Brandon Hall Group. Licensed to Saba for distribution. | 1 How to Select a Learning Management System (LMS) By David Wentworth, Senior Analyst, Brandon Hall Group August, 2012 The Situation Selecting a learning management system isn't easy. Although pundits have predicted wide consolidation in the learning management system space for years, the number of systems commercially available continues to increase each year. Brandon Hall Group analysts currently cover more than 130 systems. Estimates exist that more than 200 commercial systems currently exist. With so many choices, it's critical that the selection process be structured and disciplined. The Challenge With so many systems available, how do you select the right one? Making a mistake in acquiring a LMS can be expensive. Although the price of learning management system technology has dropped significantly over the years, it remains the most expensive learning technology acquisition for most organizations. Getting the selection process right will ensure that you are not repeating the process of acquiring an LMS—and replacing a bad choice—in a few years. The Solution The process we propose should be carried out by a selection committee comprising representatives from different divisions, departments, or lines of business that will the most affected by the new learning management system. Hold a series of meetings and circulate documents that establish the objectives and priorities of the project. Try hard not to allow the discussion to lapse into a list of LMS functionality; rather, focus on broad directives. For example, if your organization is considering measuring employee performance at the competency level, discuss what you hope to achieve. Answer some basic questions about the feasibility of doing this. For example, who is going to document job skills for each position in the company? Who maintains the competency lists? How do we verify mastery of a competency? Is it through testing, on-the-job performance records, annual review information, or perhaps all of the above? Notice that these questions have very little to do with technology and more to do with process.
  • © 2012 Brandon Hall Group. Licensed to Saba for distribution. | 2 With objectives in place, you're ready to begin the selection process. Step 1: Create a short list of systems Begin by identifying 10-20 of your most critical needs. Here are some of the questions that should be considered:  Do you have the infrastructure and inclination to have the system installed on your own servers or are you better off with a SaaS, hosted system?  Do you need the learning management system to integrate with another system?  Will the system need to interoperate with off-the-shelf content libraries or third-party content authoring tools?  Do you work in an industry that is heavily regulated and requires certification training?  You require a system that supports different languages for a globally distributed workforce?  Will the system only be used internally or will the LMS also be used to deliver learning content to partners, suppliers, and/or customers?  Do you require talent management features such as succession management? The critical needs statements should be written in terse, unambiguous, declarative sentences. Example: The learning management system must be capable of supporting multi-byte Chinese and Korean font sets in the primary learner interface with a built-in schema allowing non- technical administrators to translate the interface. High preference (not required) will be given to systems that are commercially available (already translated) in both Chinese and Korean. Using the critical needs list as a guide, you can now systematically narrow down the list of LMS solutions to a more manageable size. Even a small number of requirements can significantly reduce the number of systems. For example, the following five critical needs:  Solution provider with 50+% of clients hosted  Experience connecting with SAP  Supports French  Tested with SkillSoft course library  Tested with Lectora Publisher authoring tool …reduces the 130+ systems in our LMS research down to seven. Your goal is to create a short list of three to five systems. Don't be concerned if you end up with a few more. The following steps will further reduce the number of potential systems.
  • © 2012 Brandon Hall Group. Licensed to Saba for distribution. | 3 Step 2: Develop a set of use cases The most common mistake made by companies at this stage is to simply invite the LMS solution providers to give a general demonstration of their system. While demos are helpful, they won't automatically tell you what you need to know. The approach we prefer to use is to create well-defined "use cases." Simply stated, LMS use cases are action-based tasks that will demonstrate the system's ability to meet your specific needs. A use case describes a "day in the life" of an LMS user. Here's a sample use case: Create an ad hoc report showing usage for the last 30 days, including:  Courses completed  Courses started, but not completed  Courses completed by department  Total time used by all learners Set up a distribution list for the new report and a time for automatic generation and distribution. Aim to write approximately 20 to 25 use cases that will clearly identify how you intend to use the selected system. Step 3: Set up scripted demos Invite short listed LMS solution providers to demonstrate how their systems match the use cases you wrote in step 2. Use cases should be sent to vendors prior to any demonstration sessions. Instead of showing you only their bells and whistles, the meeting will productively focus on the somewhat mundane tasks and connectivity issues you will be facing with your project — without wasting your time, or the time of the vendor. Each use case statement can be more objectively assessed (perhaps even scored) to determine which vendors to include as final candidates for the project. Step 4: Talk to current customers Ask shortlisted companies to provide you with customer contacts. Don't be concerned that the solution provider will be giving you the names of their most satisfied customers. Conversations with these individuals will provide valuable insight into their experiences with the system and the services provided by the company. Step 5: Write Request for Proposal (RFP) Write and distribute a request for proposal to your shortlisted solution providers. Include the use cases and the critical needs identified View slide
  • © 2012 Brandon Hall Group. Licensed to Saba for distribution. | 4 earlier in the process. Ask the solution providers for detailed costs and implementation timeframe. Step 6: Evaluate proposals It`s now time to select a system, drawing on all available resources and considering all the factors. You now have the information you need to make a decision. You can compare bid prices, subjective feedback from your interviews with customer contacts, proposal grading, etc., to make that final decision. Grade the submitted proposals to select the one solution provider that can meet your critical needs and enable you to perform the tasks identified in your use case statements. The negotiation and contracting phase can now begin. The Result In webinars and workshops related to the selection of learning management systems, Brandon Hall Group analysts often ask attendees whether they are shopping for a learning management system. Invariably, between 40 and 60% of the attendees report that they are looking to acquire a system. When we ask those who are shopping for a system whether they are planning to acquire their first system or replace an existing system, approximately 50% reply that they are looking to replace their existing platform. In some cases, these organizations have outgrown their platforms and now require different feature sets. In many cases however, their dissatisfaction was lack of due diligence in the selection phase. By following the methodology described in this research brief, your organization is in a better position to acquire a system that will meet your needs over time. View slide
  • © 2012 Brandon Hall Group. Licensed to Saba for distribution. | 5 About Brandon Hall Group With more than 10,000 clients globally and 20 years of delivering world class research and advisory services, Brandon Hall Group is the most established and well-known research organization in the performance improvement industry. We conduct research that drives performance and provides strategic insight for executives and practitioners responsible for growth and business results. Brandon Hall Group has an extensive repository of thought leadership research and expertise in our primary research portfolios— Learning and Development, Talent Management, Sales Effectiveness, Marketing Impact, and Executive Management. At the core of our offerings is a Membership Program that combines research, benchmarking, and unlimited access to data and analysts. Our members have access to research and connections that help them make the right decisions about people, processes, and systems, coalesced with analyst advisory services tailored to help put the research into daily action. The Value of Membership The Brandon Hall Group Membership Program encompasses comprehensive research resources and an array of advisory services. Our Membership Program provides:  Cutting-Edge Information – Our rigorous approach for conducting research is constantly evolving and up-to-date, providing your organization with current and future trends, as well as practical research insights.  Actionable Research – Your membership includes advisory services and tools that are research driven and provide you a breakthrough approach to addressing immediate challenges and opportunities inside your organization.  Customizable Support – Whether you are an executive or entry-level practitioner our research and analyst insights can be leveraged at an individual level and across the entire organization. We realize that every organization has unique needs, so we provide multiple analyst and research access points.  Community of Peers – We realize the value of connecting with your peers and being part of a community that is focused on continuous improvement. Your membership provides you with personal connections to fellow professionals.  Unlimited Access – Every member of your team has the ability to utilize research, best practices, and advisory services when they need it most. To learn more about Brandon Hall Group, please call us at (561) 865- 5017 or email us at