5 Secrets of Effective LMS Reporting

Jill W.

Congratulations! You've done your research, consulted with key stakeholders and settled on a learning management system that best suits the needs of both your learners and your organization. Now you can sit back and watch the training happen, right? Well, not exactly. Without effective reporting, it's impossible to gauge the effectiveness of your training program or provide meaningful data to decision-makers.

What should you do to ensure you are leveraging your training program to be of the most benefit to your learners? Read on to find out why reporting is so important, and how you can use LMS reporting to maximize the benefits to your learners and your organization.

Why is LMS reporting important?

Reporting functionality routinely appears in lists of must-have LMS features, including the one found in the SkillBuilder® LMS Buying Guide. But while it's easy to acknowledge that reporting is important, it can be somewhat hard to understand why exactly this is the case.

Researchers studying training challenges found that 84% of respondents were dissatisfied with their LMS reporting. Complaints ranged from the lack of standardization and customization options, to issues with usability. Most importantly though, users complained that there was "limited or difficult access to information needed to support their business planning and strategy."

Effective reporting proves return on investment for your organization. Data collected on your training program lets you know how your learners are doing, and informs the way forward. It shows if you are reaching your learning objectives or falling short, and lets you see where changes are needed.

How can LMS reporting help your organization?

Perhaps you have always relied on user surveys and direct feedback from your learners to find out what they think of their training. After all, what better way of getting feedback than directly from the people you are trying to benefit? Keep in mind, however, that the information gained this way does not necessarily tell you everything you need to know (and you cannot always rely on a straight answer!).

This is not to say that the information gained from surveys isn't useful. Instead, think of user feedback as a solid first step that you can use to find out more about what your learners want, and gauge their level of satisfaction with the training program. Maybe they would prefer bite-sized learning, or more mobile learning options? How about video content, or access to job aids or cheat sheets? Would your learners benefit from more practical-based training, or recognition for informal training.

Once you know what your learners want, you can implement required changes to your training program. But, once implemented, it is the analytics gained through reporting that allows you to see where your successes are and where your training program is falling short of your goals.

Similarly, measuring improvement in a learner's job performance, while important, does not capture the full picture, and the results of training are not always easy to see. Reporting lets you dig deeper, and gives you the numbers you need in order to improve your training program.

Think of the implementation of your training program as an ongoing process:

  1. Perform a needs assessment and a needs analysis
  2. Identify knowledge gaps and training needs
  3. Develop highly engaging content
  4. Use reporting to find out what works and what doesn't
  5. Prove the return on investment for learning initiatives
  6. Adjust training program as required

Let's take a closer look at how you can ensure you effectively use the reporting features available to you.

Five secrets of effective reporting

  1. Measure download statistics: What type of documents are of most interest to your learners? Are they taking full advantage of downloads and, if not, why not? Learner engagement is crucial to the success of your training program; if you include a lot of information on downloadable PDFs, but your analytics indicate that learners download short videos more than any other sort of content, you will probably want to reconfigure your training program to ensure that important information isn't being overlooked.
  2. Review online assessment data: Are learners getting the information they need from the course? Online assessments encourage learning and are a valuable way of measuring the transfer of knowledge. Measuring a learner's performance on quizzes and final exams will tell you if there are knowledge gaps that are consistently being missed in the training, which may lead to course redevelopment. Looking at the data will help you discover what changes you can make to your learning program to better suit the needs of your learners.
  3. Track the number of log-ins: How many times per week (or per month) are your learners logging in to their training program? How long, on average, does it take learners to complete a course? This will give you an idea of how motivated and engaged users are to take part in the training program. Similarly, if you have implemented gamification features, look at how many badges are earned and how quickly your learners are progressing through the different levels.
  4. Track online training certification completions: Are your learners staying up to date on their certifications? An LMS can help with compliance training programs and recertification, and tracking this information not only lets you see where your workforce is placed with regards to training, it can also prevent potential fines that may be incurred should certifications lapse. Automate the certification process; set up notifications to remind learners when it is time to recertify, and allow them to download their own certificate once they complete the required course. Make your reporting work for you and remember, if you're selling your courses and certifications, these reports will help you identify how much additional revenue you'll generate with these new certifications.
  5. Track progress and completion rates: Are your learners abandoning their training before they are finished? What is causing them to lose interest? Individualized learning paths allow learners to pursue their own objectives and content, and tracking progress on a learner-by-learner basis allows you to contact individuals directly and find out if they are having issues with the material, the delivery method, or some other factor. Remember, give your learners what they need to succeed, not what you think they need. Additionally, this type of report also allows you to identify learners that are doing well in the training program, and could act as mentors for those who are struggling.

The above analytics and reports will help you fully leverage the benefits of your learning management system and ensure your training program is meeting the objectives and goals of your organization. In addition, these will help measure the level of learner and facilitator satisfaction, which will tell you more about the performance of the training program. But are reports alone enough?

In order to get better metrics, you need to choose the right learning technology. A good LMS:

  • Allows you to customize reports in addition to the ones mentioned above;
  • Exports data to your chosen program;
  • Produces reports that are easy to read; and
  • Includes learning resources, with a support system that will help you gather exactly what you need from your reports

A thorough data analysis based on mindful reports such as the ones described above is one of the most important things you can do, not only to prove your return on investment, but also to effectively develop and improve your training program.


This article described why reporting is so important. It also identified five types of reports you can run to ensure your training program is a success for both your learners and your organization. Most importantly, effective, mindful reporting will allow you to gauge the effectiveness of your training program so that you can increase employee skill sets in your organization.

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Jill W.

Jill is an Instructional Designer at BaseCorp Learning Systems with more than 10 years of experience researching, writing and designing effective learning materials. She is fascinated by the English language and enjoys the challenge of adapting her work for different audiences. After work, Jill continues to leverage her professional experience as she works toward the development of a training program for her cats. So far, success has not been apparent.