All posts by Viren Kapadia

Six Tips to Help You Select the Right Learning Management System

Editor's Note: This blog was originally published in KM World in April 2016, and has been reproduced here with permission.

In the digital world, one can turn to a blog, Wikipedia, social media platforms, online knowledge forums, videos, etc. and get informed on just anything. The information available is abundant. You might think if there is a concrete need of a Learning Management System (LMS) versus letting the employees find and learn on their own. 

The second way sounds simple but unless you have just started your business or have a very small workforce, it is not going to be an effective method in the long run. Right from analyzing the skills required, sourcing the right learning material, checking its authenticity, easy access, to measurement and tracking, etc. will be a problem if you just let your employees learn on their own. Using a LMS is the only way through which, you can provide a systematic and centralized learning process for your employees. And, the first and most critical aspect of selecting a LMS is evaluating your own requirements and objectives.

Evaluate Your Need and Requirement: It is important to evaluate points such as total number of users expected, operations structure, learning and training objectives, current IT infrastructure and its limitations, system management, etc. Get as clear and specific as you can. For example, some of your workforce might be working at the client’s office and can’t access anything outside of the client system. How will the LMS work for them? You also must assess the present learning methodology or LMS from all perspectives in order to select the most effective LMS. Think whether the LMS will be used more for classroom training or e-learning and accordingly decide the kind of LMS that you require.

Assess LMS’ Features and Usability: There are multiple Learning Management Systems in the market, each providing a unique set of features and usability. While it is great to have a large number of features, it is more important to understand its usability for end-users. Don’t get fooled by a product demo where they claim to have maximum features. Some of it might not be useful to you at all but will make the system more complex and provide an unfriendly interface. The LMS should have a streamlined interface and work flow for the administrators as well for it to run successfully. Multiple features also tend to increase the maintenance costs. Your selection should be on the basis of key features and usability that you require rather than the features that they provide.

Focus on Scalability and Value: Think from a larger perspective when trying to find an ROI on your LMS. Imagine choosing a vendor for a particular department only to find the requirement to extend it to another department few months later but, only if the present LMS could have allowed you to add more users.  With the changing work environment and compliance requirement, your LMS should scale to meet the needs of larger and varied workforce as well as evolving training requirements.

Understand the LMS’s Support and Security: Your LMS will contain a lot of sensitive data and it is very important to have a robust and secured LMS. Analyze the security settings and keep your IT team in sync to help you identify the right security structure for your organizations’ need. For example, the LMS should provide settings in a way that one set of training or reading material can only be accessed by one level of employees in the legal department and not by anyone else. Also, evaluate the support that the LMS vendor is willing to provide. Will it come as a part of package or only in the deployment phase? Can your end-users contact them directly? 

Know Company’s History and Stability: LMS vendor landscape has seen a major consolidation in the past and is still an ongoing trend. In such scenarios, it is very vital to understand vendor’s history, their future outlook and stability factors. Everything right from your SLA’s, to support, product upgrades, pricing is going to be affected if your current vendor gets bought or merged by another company. You also need to analyze their product upgrades structure and how it gets aligned to the changing training needs. Research suggests that lack of products upgrades and inadequate vendor’s support were two major reasons for 66% of users to look for a new vendor in 2015.

Ask for a Trial Version: A trial version would provide you a real feel in to the interface, features and usability. You may also ask for a sandbox installation where you can explore the top LMS vendors that you have selected. Let a small team of end-users and administrators try it out and give you feedback. You can compare the feedback from all set of users for different products and see which one gets the maximum marks and do a better cost analysis too.

While these tips are most important when selecting the right LMS for your organization.  A bit of research and evaluation on vendor’s clientele, services, customer references can be few additional items to keep in mind.

 

Gyrus Systems Awarded Learning Portal “Company to Watch” 2nd Time

Gyrus Systems, a leading Learning Management Systems (LMS) vendor, announced today it has been selected as a 2015 Learning Portal Companies Watch List by Training Industry.com.

“This year’s Learning Portal Companies Watch List features a group of learning technology companies that can be the foundation of a custom learning solution,” said Ken Taylor, president, Training Industry, Inc. “The companies selected have the potential to become leaders in the learning technologies market through their innovation and understanding of adult learning and development.”

“Learning portal solutions have made significant technological advancements over the past few years,” said Doug Howard, chief executive officer, Training Industry, Inc. “The companies chosen for this year’s Watch List are options when looking for a platform to be at the heart of your next learning initiative.”

As part of its commitment to the industry and as a service to its community members, TrainingIndustry.com has announced today its 2015 Learning Portal Companies Watch List. The watch list features Gyrus Systems amongst 16 other companies which the leading portal for the training industry has handpicked.

The selection criteria for the 2015 Learning Portal Companies Watch List was based on:
1. New and innovative service offerings
2. Unique approach to delivering learning solutions
3. Commitment to improving learning through technology
4. Quality of initial clients

Viren Kapadia, President and CEO of Gyrus Systems, shared his excitement about being featured for the 2nd time. He said, “We’re proud that our dedication to learning management technology and customer service has been recognized by the training industry”

View the complete 2015 Learning Portal Companies Watch List!

Gyrus Systems releases GyrusAim r15.1 – Title 21 CFR Part 11

Richmond, VA, August, 10, 2015. Gyrus Systems, a leader in the Learning Management Systems (LMS) industry is pleased to announce that the latest “15.1” release of the GyrusAim LMS is now available.  This is the second major release of the year and contains many innovative features that help both Learners and Training Managers.  These GyrusAim features include brand new easy-to-use Setup Wizards, Title 21 CFR Part 11 security and eSignature functions, Integration with Skillsoft’s Open Learning Services Architecture (OLSA), as well as enhanced Assessments, Course Catalogs, and Reports. See below for highlights.

GyrusAim Highlighted Features

Wizards – Brand new Wizards simplify and speed up adding eLearning, Webinars, Assessments, and Courses & Classes.  For example, when using the Course & Class Wizard a course can be quickly entered and multiple classes scheduled with just a few mouse-clicks.  Likewise the process of creating Assessments using the Wizard takes a user step-by-step through the process, making this process more streamlined and intuitive for Training Managers. 

Title 21 CFR Part 11 – Data security is extremely important.  With this fact in mind, Gyrus Systems created new technical controls for the FDA's Title 21 CFR Part 11 compliance requirements.  This is good news for FDA-regulated industries such as pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, biotech, and other such businesses because training records are more secure, electronic signatures are validated, and changes made to all data is completely and automatically audited when Part 11 features are configured.  

 My Profile Menu – The My Profile menu has been redesigned to provide metrics-at-a-glance for all learner training data.  Users can access the new My Profile with a single mouse-click and view all aspects of their training progress in a real-time environment that shows their latest statuses.  They can click to drill down into the data for a deeper analysis and to take actions when necessary (like taking eLearning, or enrolling into Instructor-Led classes) achieving a fully-interactive LMS experience.

Assessments – Dramatic improvements to both functions and the user-interface make creating and taking assessments much easier.  Improvements such as shared questions, images on questions and answers, streamlined workflow, and the new Assessment Wizard mentioned above achieve an outstanding level of customer usefulness.   

More – Advances to the Course Catalog, Skills, and Reports round out this release as a very important milestone on the GyrusAim product roadmap.

 

About Gyrus

Gyrus Systems is a stable, privately-owned company which produces the one-stop LMS solution for many clients worldwide.  Since 1987, 450+ companies in 15 countries have utilized Gyrus Systems’ learning management technologies making them more efficient, more productive, and contributing to a greater success of the organization. The company is headquartered in Richmond, Virginia.  For more information, please visit http://www.gyrus.com/.

 

Gyrus to Showcase Learning Solutions at ATD 2015 Conference

Gyrus Systems, a Learning Management Systems (LMS) leader will participate in the ATD 2015 International Conference & Exposition in Orlando, Florida from May 17-20. The annual event is designed to bring training and development professionals together to share insights and best practices on organization learning and development.   Gyrus Systems will exhibit its multi-award winning 5th generation LMS, GyrusAim, and newly released mobile learning app at booth # 349.  

Gyrus Systems is giving away 2 Apple products for free – Winner and Runner-Up Prize.

To apply for the prizes, simply make an appointment for a 10 minute demo at the show with one of our solutions experts.

Make your appointment today. Email sales@Gyrus.com using the subject lineATD 2015″.

About Gyrus

Gyrus Systems is the one-stop solution for the efficient management of any size training program.  Since 1987, 425+ companies in over 15 countries have put Gyrus Systems’ learning management technologies to work making their operation more efficient, more productive, and a greater contributor to the success of their organization. The company is headquartered in Richmond, Virginia.  For more information, please visit http://www.gyrus.com/

Benefits of Skills-Centric Learning Management Systems (LMS)

EMPLOYEE BENEFITS
Employees benefit by a skills management system because they’re provided with:
• A better understanding of quality proficiency related to their jobs
• A clear view of what skills and skill gaps they currently have
• A learning and development plan that takes into account their job-based skills requirements
• A record of their learning and development achievements
• Recognition of their skills and opportunities to use them in other assignments in the organization

MANAGEMENT BENEFITS
Through skills management, managers are presented with:
• A clear picture of the skill requirements of their employees
• An understanding of their employees’ skills strengths and weaknesses
• An informed basis for career development planning discussions
• Ability to develop prescriptive learning and development plans
• A facility to identify subject matter experts for assignment-based work

EXECUTIVE BENEFITS
Executives need to know that their organization has the skills to fulfill business strategy. A well-implemented skill and learning management system provides:
• A view of the capability of the organization
• Proof that the organization is meeting regulatory requirements
• Learning and development plans that are aligned with business strategy

What is Skill-Centric Approach?

GyrusAim utilizes a skills-centric approach. This provides organizations with a common language to describe skills in the organization and enables an agile workforce by using skills as the common currency of the business. This approach also helps integrate talent management processes.

Many organizations use disparate language across functions to describe the same skill. This leads to inefficiency—a lost opportunity to share and leverage crucial skills information across the organization. On the other hand, by defining skills consistently, skill mapping systems serve as the glue that helps bind these functions together. For example, by using the same language to define a skill in a job profile created by the recruitment and selection function of the organization, the learning and development department is able to compare the cost of developing a current employee against the cost of hiring someone who already has the required skills.

This approach to skill centricity also allows organizations to:
• Improve recruitment by providing a consistent skills specification for each job and facilitating skill-based assessment
• Consistently manage employee performance by comparing people against known skills for each role and providing a common language for assessment
• Support career planning by facilitating assessment for future roles,identifying skill gaps and learning requirements for future roles and using skill-based jobs to identify future roles for each employee
• Enhance the value of the learning & development function by ensuring that learning and development programs are aligned to business requirements and increasing the effectiveness of  an LMS
• Improve leadership development by defining skills and competencies that are aligned with business strategy

Why Skills Management?

Successful implementation of a skills management within your Learning Management System (LMS) helps organizations to:
A) Execute business strategy by developing skills that support business objectives,
B) Stay competitive by developing and retaining a well-skilled workforce,
C) Reduce costs by identifying real training needs and reducing contractor spend and recruitment costs,
D) Maximize workforce ROI by developing and utilizing employee skills effectively,
E) Mitigate operational risks by identifying skill gaps and shortages and reducing the risk of non-compliance,
F) Develop intellectual capital by developing the capability of the organization, and
G) Retain employees by identifying and facilitating employee development and improving utilization

What is Skill Management?

Skills management is the practice of defining employee skills and jobs and capturing skills assessments for analysis. The results of this analysis are then used to develop and deploy people and their skills.

Skills are defined within a framework in the form of a list of defined skill names. Each skill has a description combined with a numerical proficiency-level scale. Each level provides a detailed description of behavioral indicators.

To understand the skills and proficiency levels that an individual possesses, skill management systems provide a method of self assessment, with the assessment confirmed by an appropriate third party, typically the individual’s line manager.

Benefits of Learning Management Systems (LMS) in manufacturing:

Benefits of Learning Management Systems (LMS) in manufacturing:

Global manufacturing companies, whether industrial, automotive or consumer are continually growing and changing and new regulations and up to date training is constant.  Global manufacturing companies required simpler and more effective LMS which can reducing administrative time, while completely meeting all of the corporate and government regulations and standards.

Key benefits for manufacturing companies include:

  • Allowing employees to build skills and complete certification
  • Reduce production errors and cost over-runs by increasing employees’ skill and proficiency
  • Track, manage, and certify compliance with regulatory bodies, such as the FDA, OSHA, the EPA and others
  • Generate and assess employee learning plans and performance
  • Manage training information from one central location, with data seamlessly populating from one system to another
  • Develop, deliver, and manage all types of training, including traditional classroom training, on-the-job training, self-paced e-Learning, online training, and more
  • Integrates out of the box or via customizations with ERP, HRIS and CRM software
  • Multilingual capability allow manufacturers to easily reach the global business community
  • Accounts for local business rules and processes across multiple states, provinces or countries
  • Increase workforce productivity

Key manufacturing areas where GyrusAim has been successful:

  • Employees can physically show what they have learned through exhibited assessments (OJT)
  • Comply with FDA, OSHA, the EPA and state and local authority regulations
  • Comply with ISO 9001 standard
  •  Six Sigma training
  • CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration)
  • Managing compliance training
  • Current employees stay trained and up to date in their key areas

Manufacturing companies can expect to improved quality, increased productivity, reduced production error, and reduced waste as a result of adopting robust GyrusAim Manufacturing learning management system.

Why Buy a Learning Management System (LMS)?

1.    Meeting minimum standards is not sufficient to maintain a competitive edge

2.    Increased, more severe penalties for non-compliance

3.    Need to track/monitor compliance at a significantly more detailed level

4.    Refresher courses due at different times based on employee’s history and role

5.    Different training required for different employees = complex matrix of courses & resources that constantly change due to turnover and organizational changes

6.    Manage cross-functional and cross-enterprise teams across the globe, providing goal alignment to team members and visibility on team effectiveness to senior management

7.    Reliable records that are always up-to-date and available for viewing

8.    Provide education to end customers, creating new revenue streams and improving customer loyalty

9.    Valuable tool to prove safety of a manufacturer, verification of policies/procedures and adherence to laws & regulations

10.  Reduce time-to-market to increase competitive edge

In summary, using a learning management system can help solve many organizational challenges!

Individual Development Plans (IDP) Are Here To Stay

Organizations are made up of individuals working towards a common goal.

Individuals within an organization may share common goals, but chances are, they have goals of their own.

That’s were individual development plans come in.

An individual development plan (IDP) can help employees:

  • Improve skills
  • Gain new experiences
  • Learn about emerging trends and technology
  • Explore unique training and development opportunities
  • Identify resources to keep their career fresh and exciting

An IDP which is a feature of the new Gyrus LMS, GyrusAim. can help employees:

  • Create a list of knowledge, skills, or abilities (KSAs) that they would like to acquire or improve
  • Correspond activities for each KSA to help develop in the areas listed  above
  • Identify specific resources for each activity (i.e.: classes, a mentor, a developmental assignment, etc.)

It is very simple…  employees that can create IDPs are happier and more productive than employees who don’t.

If you are interested in having a happy, motivated workforce, give your people the tools they need to create their own IDP. An LMS like GyrusAim can help.

To learn more about IDPs visit:

http://learning.hhs.gov/career/idps.html

So you’re ready to select Learning Management System

So, you’re convinced it’s finally time to select a real Learning Management System. What was the straw that broke the camel’s back? Was it the latest mandate to develop standardized learning programs company wide? Or is it this year’s directive to incorporate succession planning, career development and pay more attention to employees outside the United States?

Maybe your company is much smaller than the corporate giants with an international presence and it’s just about getting everyone who has a hand in employee development on the same page? Duplicate Excel spreadsheets, new elearning initiatives, redundant training development, managing no-shows, empty seats, training schedules via multiple emails, compiling reports that take hours only to be asked to recreate similar reports at management’s whim each month?

Where do you begin to research vendors and understand the scope of implementing an LMS? How long should the implementation take? Does IT need to be involved up front or should you narrow down your search before putting in a request? What type of services do vendors offer? How much or how little can you do yourself?

These and many, many other questions are fair game for anyone taking the LMS plunge. From the vendor perspective, we want to help you through the research and evaluation process and we want to help set the right expectations. Ultimately, it’s your success that makes us a success.

There are several free resources available for LMS researchers. I recommend this free digital ebook, 339 Tips on LMS/LCMS Implementations, published by the eLearning Guild. Implementing a Learning Management System with the right expectations can make all the difference in your success. Armed with the right tools, you can make a difference in establishing an effective workforce development program.

Using technology to create a high performance learning organization

New technologies are a vital component of delivering high performance learning in a way that is cost-effective and that results in measurable improvements in workforce and business performance.
 
There is no shortage of compelling technology-based learning approaches today, from e-learning to web-based seminars to podcasting to simulations. The challenge most organizations face, however, is in incorporating those specific technologies within an integrated and holistic infrastructure, in a way that makes sense both economically and from the standpoint of learning effectiveness. That’s not an easy job.

A comprehensive high performance learning transformation recently executed by Gyrus Systems also included a transformation of the company’s technology infrastructure for learning. Its existing technology base was in a shape similar to many companies today: it was fragmented, with information distributed over hundreds of databases.  That situation raised distressing data integrity issues, and it also made it difficult to run centralized compliance reports or assess the value delivered from internal training. Managing any of the information centrally was time consuming and needed a great deal of manual support, so the learning infrastructure had also become very expensive.

The transformation path was to Use technology in the most effective way possible to provide exceptional learning experiences, track learning delivery and results, and provide the information needed to support effective decision making about how to steer the learning function in the long term.


Some of the key deliverables for the projects were:

1) Key requirements with metrics for success

2) Team formation

3) A comprehensive learning infrastructure – Gyrus's On Demand cloud

4) Product configuration based on key roles

5) Implementation

6) Training


The proper application of technology to Gyrus’s learning design and delivery capabilities has resulted in more timely and relevant support for the company’s different workforces across the industry. The training team can more effectively plan courses that meet business needs, in ways that also create compelling learning experiences for the company’s employees. Training delivered via e-learning or online seminars can be integrated into the holistic picture of career development and learning for the company. And executives can use reporting from the learning management system to make more informed decisions about helping employees work together toward the common goal of achieving high performance.