Buying an LMS? Don’t get ripped off!

Marlene Liontis

Marlene Liontis is the director of Lion Global HR Pty Ltd and a member of eWorks’ team of Accredited Consultants. She also founded her first e-learning company in 2009 and learned a huge amount about learning management systems in the process. Now she is keen to share what she learned in an effort to make life easier for anyone getting started in digital learning. With so many LMS models on the market how do we choose the right option for the short, medium and long-term – without getting ripped off?

LMS stands for ‘like my status’. Doesn’t it?

Let’s be honest. At some point in your life you have asked the question – either to a colleague or a search engine – ‘What is an LMS?’ And it’s a big step from knowing what an LMS is to understanding which type of LMS your business needs – even if you regularly use one. Because part of this understanding needs to include an awareness of what your LMS could be doing for you – either now or as your business expands. So you might think you have the best LMS in the world, until you find out that a whole bunch of things that you have been doing manually could easily be automated with the right set-up. And it can be daunting to approach vendors. A little like buying a car, you want them to at least think you know what you’re talking about so that they don’t take you for a – sorry – ride.

Credits: Guy,s Fine LMS 4-6-0 tender locomotive 3, by Les Chatfield

Seven quick questions for your LMS vendor

Fortunately, with only a few key questions you can ensure that an LMS can do what you need it to do and what you might need it to do one day. These questions have the added bonus of making you sound like you know what you’re talking about – an opportunity to fake it until you make it. And since the answers will help you to understand the concept of an LMS generally and each product specifically, the entire process will be part of your learning curve. Here we go, seven easy questions to ask your LMS vendor before committing to a new system:

1. Is it easy to implement?

A system that can be implemented quickly will reduce costs and roll out time and make life easier for you and your staff.

2. Is it easy to configure and customise?

Make sure the LMS reflects the way your organisation works and not the other way around. More time and money saved and staff grumbles avoided

3. Is it secure?

Does the LMS feature in-built security that lines up with your organisation’s policies? You really want to know this before you sign up.

4. Does it provide comprehensive reporting tools?

Consider your organisation’s requirements for concise compliance reports and performance appraisals. Whatever you want to achieve, there is more than likely a product out there that can do it.

5. What about functionality?

What level of functionality does your organisation require and will this change over time? What are the cost implications of these potential changes?

6. How about scalability?

Can the system grow in line with your organisation? Can it even promote your growth?

7. Does the vendor provide other services?

Ask the vendor if they offer content development? Consultancy? Training? Ideally you want a one-stop shop for all of your digital learning needs.

Need more words of wisdom from Marlene?

Take a look at her other blog posts:

Clear as mud? Feel free to get in touch if you’re struggling.