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How to Select a Learning Management System (LMS)
How to Select a Learning Management System (LMS)
How to Select a Learning Management System (LMS)
How to Select a Learning Management System (LMS)
How to Select a Learning Management System (LMS)
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How to Select a Learning Management System (LMS)


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Selecting a learning management system isn't easy. Although pundits …

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.

Published in: Business, Technology
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  • The one thing this doesn't mention is Usage Rate. Regardless of what one pays for a software system, it's too much money to pay if the users won't use it. Ask vendors to report (most cannot because they don't even track usage rates) what usage rate their clients report. Many Higher Ed institutions report less than a 40% usage rate for faculty. Edvance360 LMS-SN provides analytics to show a 95% or higher usage rate at all of their client institutions.
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  • 1. How to Select a LearningManagement System (LMS)By Richard Nantel, Co-CEO, Brandon Hall GroupMay 2011The SituationSelecting a learning management system isnt easy. Although punditshave predicted wide consolidation in the learning managementsystem space for years, the number of systems commercially availablecontinues to increase each year. Brandon Hall Group analysts currentlycover more than 130 systems. Estimates exist that more than 200commercial systems currently exist.With so many choices, its critical that the selection process bestructured and disciplined.The ChallengeWith so many systems available, how do you select the right one?Making a mistake in acquiring a LMS can be expensive. Although theprice of learning management system technology has droppedsignificantly over the years, it remains the most expensive learningtechnology acquisition for most organizations. Getting the selectionprocess right will ensure that you are not repeating the process ofacquiring an LMS—and replacing a bad choice—in a few years.The SolutionThe process we propose should be carried out by a selectioncommittee comprising representatives from different divisions,departments, or lines of business that will the most affected by thenew learning management system.Hold a series of meetings and circulate documents that establish theobjectives and priorities of the project. Try hard not to allow thediscussion to lapse into a list of LMS functionality; rather, focus onbroad directives. For example, if your organization is consideringmeasuring employee performance at the competency level, discusswhat you hope to achieve. Answer some basic questions about thefeasibility of doing this. For example, who is going to document jobskills for each position in the company? Who maintains thecompetency lists? How do we verify mastery of a competency? Is itthrough testing, on-the-job performance records, annual reviewinformation, or perhaps all of the above? Notice that these questionshave very little to do with technology and more to do with process. © 2011 Brandon Hall Group. Licensed to Saba for distribution. | 1
  • 2. With objectives in place, youre ready to begin the selection process.Step 1: Create a short list of systemsBegin by identifying 10-20 of your most critical needs. Here are someof 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 systematicallynarrow down the list of LMS solutions to a more manageable size.Even a small number of requirements can significantly reduce thenumber 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. Dont beconcerned if you end up with a few more. The following steps willfurther reduce the number of potential systems. © 2011 Brandon Hall Group. Licensed to Saba for distribution. | 2
  • 3. Step 2: Develop a set of use casesThe most common mistake made by companies at this stage is tosimply invite the LMS solution providers to give a generaldemonstration of their system. While demos are helpful, they wontautomatically tell you what you need to know. The approach weprefer to use is to create well-defined "use cases."Simply stated, LMS use cases are action-based tasks that willdemonstrate the systems ability to meet your specific needs. A usecase describes a "day in the life" of an LMS user. Heres a sample usecase: 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 identifyhow you intend to use the selected system.Step 3: Set up scripted demosInvite short listed LMS solution providers to demonstrate how theirsystems match the use cases you wrote in step 2. Use cases should besent to vendors prior to any demonstration sessions. Instead ofshowing you only their bells and whistles, the meeting willproductively focus on the somewhat mundane tasks and connectivityissues you will be facing with your project — without wasting yourtime, or the time of the vendor.Each use case statement can be more objectively assessed (perhapseven scored) to determine which vendors to include as finalcandidates for the project.Step 4: Talk to current customersAsk shortlisted companies to provide you with customer contacts.Dont be concerned that the solution provider will be giving you thenames of their most satisfied customers. Conversations with theseindividuals will provide valuable insight into their experiences with thesystem and the services provided by the company.Step 5: Write Request for Proposal (RFP)Write and distribute a request for proposal to your shortlisted solutionproviders. Include the use cases and the critical needs identified © 2011 Brandon Hall Group. Licensed to Saba for distribution. | 3
  • 4. earlier in the process. Ask the solution providers for detailed costs andimplementation timeframe.Step 6: Evaluate proposalsIt`s now time to select a system, drawing on all available resourcesand considering all the factors. You now have the information youneed to make a decision. You can compare bid prices, subjectivefeedback from your interviews with customer contacts, proposalgrading, etc., to make that final decision.Grade the submitted proposals to select the one solution provider thatcan meet your critical needs and enable you to perform the tasksidentified in your use case statements.The negotiation and contracting phase can now begin.The ResultIn webinars and workshops related to the selection of learningmanagement systems, Brandon Hall Group analysts often askattendees whether they are shopping for a learning managementsystem. Invariably, between 40 and 60% of the attendees report thatthey are looking to acquire a system.When we ask those who are shopping for a system whether they areplanning to acquire their first system or replace an existing system,approximately 50% reply that they are looking to replace their existingplatform.In some cases, these organizations have outgrown their platforms andnow require different feature sets. In many cases however, theirdissatisfaction was lack of due diligence in the selection phase. Byfollowing the methodology described in this research brief, yourorganization is in a better position to acquire a system that will meetyour needs over time. © 2011 Brandon Hall Group. Licensed to Saba for distribution. | 4
  • 5. About Brandon Hall Group With more than 5,000 clients globally and 20 years of delivering world class solutions, Brandon Hall Group is the preeminent research and analyst organization focused on developing research driven solutions to drive organizational performance for emerging and large organizations. Through the recent merger of Brandon Hall Research and AC Growth, Brandon Hall Group has an extensive repository of thought leadership, research, data and expertise in Talent Management, Learning & Development, Sales, Marketing and Executive Management. At the core is a Membership Program that combines research, benchmarking and unlimited access to data and analysts. The Membership Program offers insights and best practices to enable executives to make the right decisions about people, processes, and systems, coalesced with analyst advisory services which aim to put the research into action in a way that is practical and efficient.The Value of Membership The Brandon Hall Group membership program encompasses comprehensive research resources and an array of advisory services. Our membership program provides the following: • Cutting-Edge Information – Our rigorous approach for conducting research is constantly evolving and up-to-date, providing your organization with current and future trends. • Actionable Research – Your membership includes advisory services that are research driven and provides you a breakthrough approach to addressing immediate challenges and opportunities inside your organization. • Customizable Support – Whether you are a Learning and Development, Talent Management, Sales, Marketing, or C- Level Executive, our research, frameworks, models and tools will provide insight and solutions that you can leverage across the entire organization. • Unlimited Access – Every member of your team has the ability to utilize research, next practices and advisory services wherever and whenever they need it to support critical decision-making. To learn more about Brandon Hall Group, please call us at (561) 865- 5017 or email us at © 2011 Brandon Hall Group. Licensed to Saba for distribution. | 5