Employee training has become a critical aspect for business growth in today’s highly competitive corporate landscape. In this blog I discuss what L&D teams can do to create awareness and encourage user adoption and engagement for successful LMS implementation and sustainability.
Having been a part of the L&D space for over 12 years, I know too well the importance of a Learning Management System (LMS) for an organization’s sustenance and growth. Now, being on the other side of the table, as a Sr. Business Development Manager for the Americas and MEA at UpsideLMS, I can empathize with folks from the HR, L&D and OD functions as they begin their LMS journey. Often on the wrong foot.
It’s not always the case of the learning platform being a misfit, but rather the lack of planning for a successful LMS implementation that mars the overall L&D value. After all, in today’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world, the need for continuous learning and skilling is on the rise, while the HR and the L&D teams s find themselves up against time and budget to put a holistic training strategy in place. Been there, seen that!
Here are some tips and best practices for a successful LMS implementation, collated and distilled from my personal experiences-
1. Manage Expectations
First of all, setting realistic expectations is crucial. An LMS is not a magic potion that will solve all L&D problems and make employees more productive by the click of a mouse. The most critical question organizations need to ask is ‘what are we expecting from the LMS?’ Whether you’re looking at reducing accidents via HSE training or avoiding non-compliance lawsuits by making employees sign a disclaimer through the LMS, your expectations need to be clear and agreed upon from the get go. In terms of the investment, an achievable and quantifiable number should help justify it. For example, a 20% reduction in accidents and 90% compliance in the first year is a realistic start. Other important parameters of ROI measurement like productivity, efficiency, etc. need more complex matrices and each of these will need to be thought of and agreed upon by all stakeholders.
2.Prioritize Content Curation
In the simplest sense, an LMS is like a bookshelf and the (elearning) content uploaded on it is like all the books. The most expensive and good looking shelves can cut a sorry picture without meaningful books sitting on it. L&D professionals must convert the tacit knowledge sitting within the organization and with the subject matter experts (SMEs) into explicit knowledge that can be shared with employees. That’s a great foundation of a successful learning strategy. It needs months of hard work to create content that is engaging and effective. HTML Courses (whether custom created or sourced from Off-the-shelf libraries), Reference Documents, Assessments, Assignments on each training topic need to be carefully compiled and put together. Content creation can happen internally via Instructional Designers and authoring tools or through professional elearning companies. All of this comes at a cost which needs to be factored in before drawing up a budget for the LMS. It’s only when great content is loaded on an LMS that magic happens!
3. Cleanse you Data
Akin to what goes around, comes around, what goes in, comes out. The quality of people’s data held by an organization from years needs a thorough cleansing to check and eliminate duplicates, typos and junk in each master data field. If ignored, this junk data can sync with your LMS and populate it with inferior quality data. The data cleansing can be an extremely time consuming step, the importance of which cannot be undermined. This step needs to be invested in well before an LMS is even shortlisted or implemented.
4. Setup an LMS Team
Most times, a single individual is handed the responsibility of a project manager for the LMS and the LMS’ success or failure is attributed to those single-handed efforts. A company-wide LMS implementation is no small task and needs SPOCs or LMS champions from each department to drive the platform in their own functions and teams. Following up for completions, solving queries and making the implementation a success needs a dedicated and committed team of LMS champions and not just one person who is bound to (eventually) burn out or run out of steam.
5. Plan Trainings
A new tool, however intuitive and user friendly, is expected to draw resistance. A WIIFM (What’s in it for me) approach which informs the users about how the LMS can help them grow, amass new competencies, take on new roles, get a promotion or earn incentives is crucial. LMS trainings need to be carefully thought about and planned in advance through video tutorials, classroom sessions, town halls or using the champion from each function to take up the task of training their teams.
6. Implement Phase-wise
Eating a pie spoon by spoon makes more sense than trying to gulp the whole thing down at once. A common mistake that companies make is to shoot for the stars and go for a company-wide implementation. A better approach is to look at a staggered implementation, targeting the most/ least crucial function or employee group to review and analyze the implementation and improve for the next phase. It could be frontlines first or managers first, depending on the maximum impact that justifies the LMS investment.
7. Incentivize Usage
Appreciation for LMS usage can be a great motivator. Encouraging employee LMS footfalls or content completions by awarding incentives via features like Gamification or CPD points are great ways to draw audiences’ attention. There are certainly many ways to leverage Gamification for a positive learning experience because when the stakes for grabs are high, it is bound to get the workforce excited and inculcate a healthy sense of competition. The incentives could be a coffee or a lunch with the CEO or a certificate that reads ‘Learner of the month’ which employees can proudly display on their desks.
8. Involve the Line Manager
Immediate supervisors or line managers being assigned to each employee ensures that they can view the progress of their own teams. This takes the pressure of clocking completions off the LMS project teams, as ensuring 100% compliance is best left to immediate supervisors who work most closely with employees and can drive them better than anybody else. Incentivizing the supervisors for most compliant team is also a good step to ensure LMS success.
9. Review. Reset. Refocus
Reviewing the LMS implementation each quarter or at regular intervals for achievement of agreed parameters is a good way to measure the things that are going as planned and the ones that need tweaking. This helps avoid a backlash at the end of the year, in terms of ROI, which may cause the investment to be questioned by the management.
10. Continuous Improvement
Keeping the LMS updated with content that holds the attention of the employees and gets them to access and upgrade their skills is a process that is super demanding and challenging. Identifying trainings that grabs eyeballs, planning delivery via eLearning or classroom training or a blend of both and execution of the training and review of its success is a never ending loop, one that needs to happen continuously. When done successfully, it leads to a culture of continuous learning.
I hope the above tips can be great pointers to keep in mind for L&D teams who are considering implementing an LMS or are in the process of LMS switching. These points should surely help make the decision of investing in an LMS a worthy one and avoid common loopholes that can throw the decision by the wayside.