Selecting an LMS is a challenging task and that’s just because it takes care of an important business function and needs to work well. The web today holds a great deal of information on how to select an LMS, LMS Selection tools, directories of leading LMS systems, sample RFIs, and a whole lot of other very useful and handy information. However it is equally important for the decision makers to know what NOT to do while (before and during) selecting an LMS as many of these things aren’t clearly highlighted elsewhere. More so, the don’ts leave a deeper impression!
- It is not an IT system purchase. First things first. Let us be strong about it. Do not make the LMS an IT system purchase only. You do not need to be any more IT-savvy than you already may be to evaluate or go about selecting the right LMS system for your organization. It is a piece of software and the IT part stops there. From the very first day when you start talking about the need for an LMS with management and internal staff do not involve IT, (unless you need some inputs from them); make sure you focus on the core objectives, perceived benefits, and desired outcomes from the system.
- Do not buy after just a sales demonstration. Go deeper. With respect to salesmen and the time they get to demonstrate a product for the first time, do not buy the system right after. If required, get one or two more demonstrations done; involve more people to ask more questions: to-be-administrators, user groups, the IT team (yes, they can give inputs and ask technical questions but only to an extent).
- Do not delegate ‘dig deeper’ to someone in your team unless he/she is qualified to map requirements to system functionality. There is no doubting your team’s capabilities but the critical evaluation must be done diligently and mustn’t be delegated to someone who may only look at it from a narrow perspective and present an opinion that may not be fully informed or accurate.
- Do not sign the order before a full trial access. While there is little doubt about the demonstrations by the sales team or your team’s evaluation; just as you wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive, you wouldn’t purchase an LMS without trial use either. Involve to-be-administrators and some users and do a full trial. This may take a few weeks depending on your team’s availability and planning, but if ignored can put your learning initiative in jeopardy.
- Do not leave the ‘thinking’ part to the LMS vendor. As one of the vendors ourselves, I have found that a few (ok, I’ll admit, more than a few) customers make assumptions that the vendor would take care of all such assumed items automatically and that they are obvious. However, this can lead to unacceptable situations which delay or hinder the implementation of the LMS. Go through the process of scoping and describing your requirements elaborately pertaining to modifying workflows, expectations from MIS reports (format, structure), automated email notifications (templates, protocols, etc.), the initial data set to be loaded, etc. This exercise takes time and effort but eventually saves time and hassles. While we agree a good LMS provider would know their job and create an implementation process which will enable them to manage such variable, this is not always the case. Ensure the vendor you select documents the scope and requirements before any sort of implementation starts.
These tips are from our own experience of selling, customizing and implementing LMS systems over the years.
If someone has additional don’ts to add to these, please comment.