Implement a Learning Management System: A Roadmap fo Success


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Selecting a system isn’t the end of a learning management system acquisition initiative. This white paper outlines the five key planning initiatives to ensure a successful implementation.

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Implement a Learning Management System: A Roadmap fo Success

  1. 1. Implement a LearningManagement System:A Roadmap for SuccessBy Richard Nantel, Co-CEO, Brandon Hall GroupMay 2011The SituationIn a recent webinar, we asked attendees who were shopping for alearning management system (LMS) whether they were looking toacquire their first LMS or whether they were replacing an existingsystem. More than half—a full 58 per cent—answered that they werereplacing an existing system. When asked to describe theirexperiences with their existing system, they listed the following:  It took a long time to get the system up and running  Implementation involved more than they realized  Getting the system implemented required more internal time and effort than they had envisioned  An LMS may have a specific feature but it sometimes takes client effort to put it into practice  The LMS doesn’t quite do what they thought it would do  The organization underestimated the effort required to maintain the system  The learning department felt caught between the LMS solution provider and its own IT department  Internal support staff spent a lot of time dealing with user service issuesInterestingly, almost all of the observations listed above are related toplanning and implementation rather than capabilities built into thelearning management system.The ChallengeMany organizations mistakenly believe that once they have gonethrough a rigorous LMS selection process and picked what theybelieve is the one system that best meets their needs, their work isdone. In reality, the post-selection implementation phase is as criticalto the success of a learning management system initiative as isselecting the system.Selecting the right LMS, but implementing it badly, will lead to lowusage rates, a strained relationship with the LMS solution provider,and will reflect poorly on the ability of your learning department toget things done. © 2011 Brandon Hall Group. Licensed to Saba for distribution. | 1
  2. 2. Brandon Hall Group research indicates that in about 30 per cent of allLMS acquisition initiatives, organizations underestimated the effortrequired to implement the system.Source: Brandon Hall Group, 2011.Careful planning and realistic allocation of resources are required toensure success.The SolutionThe successful implementation of a learning management system goesbeyond just picking the right system and requires attention in the fivekey planning areas listed below. Five Key Planning Areas – LMS Implementation Strategic objectives Technology considerations Administrative needs and roles Content strategy Marketing and roll-out to users © 2011 Brandon Hall Group. Licensed to Saba for distribution. | 2
  3. 3. Planning area 1: Strategic objectivesBefore considering software features, its critical to have clearlydefined strategic objectives regarding the implementation of alearning management system. What are you trying to achieve? Whatare you expecting the LMS to do? How will you measure the success ofthis implementation?Some common strategic objectives include:  To reduce the cost associated with face-to-face, classroom- based training  To better manage compliance and regulatory training  To extend learning beyond your organization to include partners, suppliers, and/or customers  To provide content to globally dispersed learners in multiple languages  To integrate learning technology into other enterprise applications  To create an in-house environment for social and informal learning without the privacy and security concerns of public social networks such as Facebook  To extend learning delivery to mobile devicesPlanning area 2: Technology considerationsThe strategic objectives identified above will influence your LMStechnology requirements. If, for example, your intent is to bettermanage compliance training and certification, then your LMS selectioncommittee should document—using use cases—how you expect thesystem to improve compliance. Specific features might include theability to manage audit trails, the ability to track certificationdeadlines, the ability to make some learning events compulsory, etc.Planning area 3: Administrative needs and rolesInitiatives commonly fail because roles and responsibilities have notbeen defined clearly. Who will own the learning management system?Who will be responsible for technical support? Who will beresponsible for managing learners? Who will be responsible forcontent management? Who needs to be kept informed throughreports generated by the system?A RACI matrix can be helpful in identifying departmental and individualroles and responsibilities. (See fordetails.)In considering the management of the project, do the individualsidentified have the time required? Are they now expected to do theirold jobs plus take on new duties as LMS administrators? Success inyour LMS implementation will require attention and effort by those © 2011 Brandon Hall Group. Licensed to Saba for distribution. | 3
  4. 4. involved; something that does not occur when team members areasked to do more than they have time to do.Planning area 4: Content strategyThe primary role of the learning management system is to delivercontent and events to learners. Close consideration needs to be givento what this content will encompass and how it will be delivered. Doyou have legacy content you wish to leverage? If so in what format isthis content? Does your organization need to create significantamounts of content? If so who will create and import this content?Subject matter experts? Developers? Are you planning to acquire off-the-shelf courseware libraries? Are you planning to map competenciesto job titles and to learning content?Planning area 5: Marketing and roll-out to usersMany people are extremely resistant to change. They believeinstinctively and passionately that the status quo is the way to go.Since your LMS implementation requires a change in behavior, youshould view the rollout of your new platform as a changemanagement initiative.To gain adoption, your LMS will need to be marketed. Pay attention tothe branding of your initiative. Try to build excitement for the newsystem. Communicate the benefits clearly through channels users aremost likely to monitor.Also, identify and pay attention to the early adopters, those least likelyto be resistant to change. These individuals can become influentialevangelists for the system. Their excitement for the new technologywill encourage others to use it.So how long should a learning management system take? Ourresearch indicates that with proper planning, most LMSimplementations take between three and six months. © 2011 Brandon Hall Group. Licensed to Saba for distribution. | 4
  5. 5. Source: Brandon Hall Group, 2011.Solution Providers’ PerspectiveAs a LMS buyer, you have expectations for what the solution providerwill deliver to you, the client. The most successful implementations,though, are those where both the client and vendor see theirrelationship as a partnership. Both parties work together to make theLMS implementation a success.In the spirit of promoting such partnerships, here’s what yourpotential solution provider expects from you, the client:  Have a clear LMS strategy with measurable success defined  Identify all stakeholders and include them in the implementation process  Have a clear decision-making process  Have an implementation team, with clear roles  Learn from other customers’ implementation experiences  Be ready to make decisions about the system’s functionality versus your workflow  Understand the difference between configuration and customization: o Configuration is setting up and tailoring the system within its existing functionality o Customization is rewriting the underlying codeThe ResultSelecting a system and signing a contract isn’t the end of a learningmanagement system acquisition initiative. Consider it instead the endof phase one of the process. To ensure success, you need to be asdiligent in implementing and configuring the system, marketing thenew technology to users, managing its day-to-day use as you were inidentifying technical requirements and evaluating software featuresets. © 2011 Brandon Hall Group. Licensed to Saba for distribution. | 5
  6. 6. 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. | 6