Four easy steps to SMS / LMS integration

Debbie Scully

Debbie has direct responsibility for business development and operations at eWorks. She has seen first-hand the impact of SMS/LMS integration and gets real satisfaction out of the positive feedback she receives from clients who have chosen to make this clever move. If you are not aware of the benefits of integration, or you are thinking about it but it all seems too hard, allow Debbie to convince you of the power of this change. She even promises she will never say ‘I told you so’.

Four simple steps to an easier working life

You know you want to integrate your SMS and LMS. Why wouldn’t you, when it offers so many benefits. Integration will save you time, money and headaches by:

  • Automatically rolling over new students from the SMS into the LMS
  • Automatically enrolling students into their courses
  • Pushing student results back into the SMS from the LMS
  • Seamlessly providing evidence for auditors
  • Offering automatic sign on – one password for everything
  • Avoiding errors associated with manual data entry.

But the whole idea seems like too much hard work. At least you know how things work currently – better the devil and all that. But what if it could be done in four easy steps? eWorks employs a proven four-step process to ensure that our integration projects run smoothly and provide maximum benefit to your organisation. No really – it doesn’t need to be complicated or scary.

Credits: Arrows showing up (Blender), by FutUndBeidl

Step 1: Requirements analysis

The process starts with a detailed discussion with you (and your technical partner if necessary) to determine your specific requirements and to ensure that we have a thorough understanding of the system/s with which we will be integrating. When it comes to integration of a learning management system (LMS) and an external database (such as a student management system (SMS), human resources information system (HRIS), etc.), we will start by exploring your requirements around the automation of several elements. This step is all about ensuring as much automation as possible to reduce manual data entry and reporting for you and your colleagues. Part of this step involves a discussion about your data including:

  • users
  • courses
  • enrolments, and
  • automatic sign-on.

This will ensure that we have a full picture of your current data and configuration, and to determine how this data will be integrated with the LMS. All discussions are documented and provided to you for sign-off prior to any development work being conducted.

Step 2: Testing

Comprehensive prototyping and testing enables us to identify and rectify any potential issues prior to conducting the full integration. During this stage we will establish a testing environment and conduct sample integrations of representative data samples. Our technical experts will assess these samples in consultation with you, to ensure that both the technical and functional requirements of the integration are met. If issues are identified, multiple rounds of testing and prototyping will be conducted to ensure that we get it right. The full integration will not take place until you are happy and have signed off on the prototype.

Step 3: Full integration

Once you are happy and ready to go, a timeline is scheduled for the full integration. Depending on your requirements, integration can be scheduled to occur during a period of low usage in the LMS, and we can also conduct the integration in stages if you like (e.g. users, then courses, then enrolments.) A cut-off date is agreed upon for when data creation in the LMS is transitioned from manual to automatic, to avoid any duplicate data occurring in the LMS. Our technical team will review the integration in consultation with you, to ensure both the technical and functional requirements have been met.

Step 4: Post-delivery support and maintenance

Our integration components come with post-delivery support and maintenance as standard. During the first week following integration we will monitor your system for stable and correct performance. For the following two months fortnightly monitoring of the integration performance will be conducted. When updates are made to TrainingVC we conduct testing to ensure the performance of your integration remains stable. In this way, you can be sure that your investment in integration will provide long-term efficiency and savings.

But wait, there’s more!

In the above example, we have considered the integration of a learning management system with an external database. However, our skilled technical team are ready to assist with any other integration requirements you may have, so please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Integrate your business systems with your LMS

Debbie Scully

Debbie has been actively involved in e-learning since mid-1990—when she moved from being a traditional educator into the e-learning space—and never looked back. Debbie’s focus is on the application of quality driven outcomes through stringent project management processes in the development and delivery of online learning. She is a firm believer that digital learning delivery doesn’t need to be difficult. Read on for one, big example of how to keep things clean and easy.

If I had a dollar for every time…

I meet with prospective clients and they ask me whether our LMS will integrate with a business system that is of high importance to them…well, I would have paid off my mortgage by now. Actually the TVC delivery platform offers far more than a learning management system (LMS), but for the sake of keeping things simple today let’s just say we are talking about whether or not we can integrate an LMS and another business system. The short answer? Yes – absolutely yes!

Credit: arrows, by Dean Hochman

Why the need to integrate?

Businesses don’t want important data sitting separately in several databases. It’s messy, a bit of a headache and wastes time and money. Are you nodding in agreement? In the case of registered training organisations (RTOs,) we are usually talking about integrating a student management system (SMS) with our delivery platform (that includes an LMS). This is because the SMS is the place where all student information is recorded when a student enrols, including course name and dates. Without integration into the LMS, clients would need to manually add student names and teachers would need to create courses and add the relevant students to the courses. Not only is this an unnecessary waste of time in a time-poor education sector, errors can be made during such manual processes.

How does integration work?

Integration from an SMS to an LMS usually means that each night or early morning all new students who have been added are rolled over into the LMS automatically. Some integrations include enrolment into courses and, in a few cases, the integration process actually creates the course shell with the students already enrolled.

What about student results?

The next level of integration would be to push the student results back into the SMS. Since the SMS is the key area that auditors review, the LMS seamlessly provides the evidence required as part of an audit. Suddenly your job becomes so much simpler.

What else is possible?

Just about anything really. Our Moodle-based LMS has the flexibility to integrate with many systems. HR systems are an obvious integration option, where the LMS stores business critical information about staff. If you’re not sure, simply ask us.

Contact eWorks to discuss your integration needs.