The constant disruption of the business landscape has entailed organizations' restructuring the way they work. The rise of automation, technological evolution, and the accelerated pace of digital transformation have significantly impacted the world of work. Workforce roles are changing, as are the skills needed to perform these jobs. Organizations are no longer unaware of the growing skills gap and the need to up-skill and re-skill their workforce to become future-ready.
Organizations also have to pay attention to employee engagement and the influencers of employee experience in the wake of trends like the Great Resignation. One of the main reasons cited for employee attrition has been career development. There has been an overall increased demand for learning and development opportunities, and HR leaders across the globe are looking at increasing L&D budgets. Among other things, this trend has forced organizations to reimaging employee engagement to retain existing talent and attract the right ones.
A strong learning and development initiative has to be backed up by an equally robust Learning Management System (LMS). As it stands, the LMS market is projected to grow to $37.9 billion by 2026 at a CAGR of 19.1%.
LMS are critical for promoting a culture of continuous learning and enabling L&D teams to deliver effective and impactful development initiatives aligned with the organizational goals. However, just like every other piece of technology, traditional LMS systems need an upgrade to capably function and deliver value in this new world of work.
It's noteworthy that LMS are available in all shapes and sizes. However, organizations must evaluate the system and vendor capabilities to ensure that the LMS is aligned to their learning needs, delivers capable support and value to L&D teams, and can converge and deliver critical insights to improve L&D initiatives.
As such, asking some of the hard questions to LMS vendors becomes imperative owing to the impact that these systems have on L&D initiatives. After all, LMS vendors are nothing short of partners for success.
Here are some of the questions that need answers to make informed decisions regarding LMS systems.
Ensuring that the LMS is compliant with all government and regulatory bodies becomes critical as the compliance and regulatory landscape gets stricter with every passing day. The LMS must comply with industry standards and deliver a secure learning environment for everyone involved. Using compliant LMS platforms also shows the organization in a good light, reflecting that it follows regulations and promotes a safe learning environment.
When speaking to vendors, check their compliance status, especially for industries such as healthcare and pharma that are heavily regulated. SCORM, AICC, Tin Can, XAPI, and 21 CFR Part 11, etc., are some of the compliances to look out for.
Gamification employs game mechanics to capture and engage an audience. Elements like badges, certifications, fun competitions, gifts, etc., give any learning program an extra spark and provide positive engagement.
It enhances learner experiences, drives engagement, and promotes greater retention owing to the lower cognitive load. That aside, gamification also helps create a positive and more modern learning experience and enables organizations to uphold a culture of continuous learning.
Thus, looking at vendors who have in-built, easy-to-use gamification features becomes vital to delivering engaging learning content to users.
Most LMS vendors do not offer comprehensive/proactive support. However, the importance of the LMS and the fact that it is a technology system demand robust support to help users on their learning journey when needed.
The vendor should be able to deliver support and technical assistance and ensure proactive objection handling via both offline and online means to the organization. People should be able to self-support and troubleshoot easily by leveraging live chat, email, and a telephone support line. LMS vendors who build this cost into the pricing plans definitely stand a notch above the rest who don't.
The days of aging content that was delivered over and over to learners are behind us. Organizations now need the agility to create relevant training programs and learning content and deploy it in a few clicks to the LMS.
The LMS system should be intuitive and customizable and make life easier for the learners and the learning administrators. The vendor should provide industry-leading and engaging content and authoring tools. Partnerships with leading providers of online courses are an important capability to possess.
Easy file conversion, multilingual GUI (Graphic User Interface), and a comprehensive enterprise-grade feature set are not bonuses but must-haves.
The vendor must have an in-house implementation team that thoughtfully analyzes the unique needs of the organization and then delivers a robust LMS system that can take care of the fast-evolving learning needs of an organization. Asking the vendors about their integration capabilities is also essential when selecting an LMS.
Having an in-house implementation team makes the LMS implementation process simpler and more dependable. This ensures that all critical integrations are departments, teams, or courses are correctly dispensed to reduce administrative load and ascertains that all the data and channels are appropriately plugged in for detailed insights.
Evaluating the LMS vendor on their automation capabilities is essential when selecting an LMS platform. Those vendors who allow ease of automation make LMS administration easier and more robust.
Be it linking the employee directory to the LMS to enable ease of use from the employee side or sending out automated reminders to the right employees for courses, automation makes the life of the LMS administrator easier and their work more efficient.
LMS platform should also allow automated updates to ensure that the system runs on its most current version for consistent performance and security and that the functionalities are always updated.
Without data, we are all deer on a highway. L&D programs need deep and clear insights into their effectiveness for proactive management and improvement. Learner and course data are key sources of learner and course data. As such, assessing the kind of insights and analytics the LMS vendor provides is an important area of consideration.
Gap analysis capabilities become important here. More importantly, the LMS should facilitate real-time data visualization and reporting to demonstrate learning effectiveness and alignment with priorities for skills development and compliance.
In the age of hyper-personalization, can learner journeys be anything but so? Intuitive user design, device-agnostic accessibility, and data security considerations are essential capabilities of any LMS.
The LMS should also allow organizations to easily curate and customize learner journeys according to their skill needs, career path plans, and aspirations and deliver these anytime, anywhere, and on any device.
Ease of scalability is a key differentiator between an average and a great LMS platform. LMS platforms offered in the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model are easier to scale since the cloud delivers infinite flexibility and scalability.
The platform should allow organizations to accommodate their needs with ease and confidence, be it adding or reducing users, departments, languages, or geographies.
Asking for the laundry list of clients is essential when evaluating LMS vendors. The client list provides a clear insight into their implementation capabilities, breadth of experience, and capacity to handle your business. Organizations must also evaluate if the LMS vendor can scale their solution to operate at a global level while keeping localization, regulatory and compliance, and demographic needs in place.
Those with the right depth and breadth of experience working across geographies, industries, domains, and organization sizes can customize the LMS platform to deliver consumer-grade learning experiences.
Along with these questions, organizations must ask LMS vendors if they provide capabilities such as multi tenant environment support, exceptional user experience, holistic features, flexibility to create customized workflows, multiple languages, and whether they can consolidate multiple learning programs under one LMS.
Assessing these capabilities can help organizations differentiate between the bells and whistles and the actual features and functionalities that create and generate value.