Access to such a document is very important for prospects prior to signing a contract. An ongoing history of software releases provided by an LMS vendor proves that they invest resources into developing the product by adding new features and fixing problems. If a vendor cannot or will not provide such a detailed history, it can be a warning to steer clear of their Learning Management System. (An exception is a start-up vendor that is so new that they really don’t have a release history, other measures must be taken to validate such companies.) Providing such a history is not a problem for Gyrus Systems since we’ve been in business since 1987 and update our GyrusAim LMS several times per year.
A meaningful detail to examine when Release Notes are provided is to ensure that it contains product information up to the current date. As an example, Release Notes are provided to you by a vendor in December, 2015 with history that ends in 2013. Questions should be raised with the vendor about why they have not improved their product for such a long time. It may indicate a loss of product focus or worse. Perhaps the company is trying to be bought (mergers & acquisitions have been common in the Training & Development Software Industry) and has cut development staff to save costs and make the company more attractive to a buyer. Most such reasons are good indicators to avoid a vendor.
Revision numbers may be another clue that the software product is not the primary focus of a business, especially if the product has been around for a while. If the product has been in production for several years and is still a “Version 1,” then there’s a good chance it’s not being developed and a reason to avoid it. Gyrus Systems is preparing to release its sixth-generation “Release 16” version of the software which means there are many years of development invested in it that translates into a tremendous number of features that help our customers manage their learning environment.
Whether the LMS you are investigating is designed to be installed at your location, is cloud-based, or SaaS, the vendor should readily provide Release Notes when asked for them. Examine the document in detail and ensure you ask the vendor about gaps or other problems.