The process of LMS selection through to LMS Implementation covers a bunch of tangible deliverables from the LMS vendor. But beyond these tangible deliverables are a couple of intangibles that surpass the expected levels of service commitments from the LMS vendor and strengthen the relationship.It’s the ‘Ongoing Consulting’ that an LMS vendor offers to its clients post implementation and beyond support.
Going the Extra Mile – Ongoing Consulting
1. Consulting beyond Delivery
The LMS rollout is often considered as a mark of project completion. While technically it’s true, in reality a long term relationship between a client and a vendor ‘starts’ with a successful rollout.
In my 8 years of managing customer relationships, I have seen that implementation and rollout is of course important, but it is just one part of the process. The second part is maintaining this relationship and taking it to the next level.
Post LMS setup, the LMS vendor can help the client in mapping its future requirements to the LMS and see how the learning delivery experience can be enriched for its users.
2. Align with Training Cycle Post Implementation
While it’s a given that the vendor should be involved post LMS implementation, spikes in the involvement can be expected. These could be based on the recurring training cycles, for eg – compliance training. All the users might have to go through a mandatory compliance training within a particular deadline or in a particular month of the year. In such a case, the vendor will be more involved at those specific times as per the pre-set schedules.
On the other hand, clients might also have to undergo specific training activities like Sales training for skills upgrade, seasonal activities or market events like release of a new product which require extensive training internally and for the external users. In such cases too, the vendor will be involved at specific times when the training is being held.
Such training events generally impact the infrastructure requirements, server and system utilization due to the sudden spikes in the LMS usage. Vendor’s awareness and involvement will help the client plan and execute these training activities more smoothly. And a vendor can align its team to cater to such spikes in involvement.
3. Technical Expertise and Shadow Team
To ensure that the LMS keeps up with the customer needs for a long time, the customer should involve the vendor for its future L&D initiatives. Any impact to LMS can then be well planned and taken care of. Vendors can provide their technical expertise to help achieve the client’s initiatives with the current system or perform a gap analysis to identify any modifications required to cater the needs.
This no longer remains a client-vendor relationship alone, but a synergy in which the client starts seeing the vendor as a ‘partner’ that can be reached out at any time. While the vendor is always working with them on new initiatives and suggesting ways to achieve it using an LMS.
For any L&D initiative, a customer can purely focus on their internal processes and leave anything specific to system to the vendor to act as its shadow team.
4. Future Releases Planning
In this ever changing world, nothing can be stagnant; especially learning and training. Every system requires an upgrade to keep up with the technological advancements and clients needs, which keep evolving with the time.
Also the organization level requirements keep on evolving with time. A collaborative environment should be created by the vendor where customers can contribute by their suggestions which in turn becomes the wish list for the LMS.
There are two aspects to designing a future release plan for an LMS. One is by incorporating the vendor’s own roadmap and other is by incorporating customer contributed enhancements. The former includes a list of features/ functionalities that the LMS vendor wants to achieve with its product in line with the emerging trends, while the latter means listening to the client’s needs and bringing it back into the product. In a product roadmap, a balance between emerging trends and customer’s specific needs should be maintained. Combining both of these aspects will lead to a win-win situation as the customer will be benefited from other customer’s ideas and the LMS vendor will be able to offer a product that is competitive in the market.
5. Expected Results from the LMS implementation (ROI)
The success of the LMS can be analyzed by calculating the ROI, which is easier said than done.ROI calculation and analysis should not happen at the end of implementation alone but should be an ongoing process.While the LMS can have all the features in the world, however client should consider the features that they are going to utilize to calculate the ROI. You may define your own metrics based on the business case that was set at the beginning of the implementation.
Many organizations measure the effectiveness of learning on business results. These can be:
- Reduction in errors/accidents
- Time to effectiveness
- Reduced training cost
- Centralized distribution and monitoring of L&D activities
From an employee perspective, it can be:
- Increased productivity
- Meeting corporate objectives
- Ability to perform new tasks
- Increased in role promotions and reduction in skill gap
A vendor, by providing ongoing consulting in terms of providing technical expertise, future release planning, actively contributing in new L&D initiatives and acting as a shadow team, can help the client in using its LMS more effectively, which gradually increases the ROI.
So by going the extra mile and providing Ongoing Consulting makes the client and vendor partnership very strong and ensures that LMS keeps providing great value to the customer.