The Dangers of a Good Enough LMS Software
The LMS selection process can be incredibly daunting - choosing the right LMS software for your organization is a time and money-intensive proposition, and despite tips and tricks to help you break this process down into manageable chunks, there's no denying that it takes a lot of effort to choose just the right learning management system. What happens if you don't put in that effort? Maybe you're not sure if all the time and money is really worth it. After all, LMSs must be pretty similar, right?
LMSs have the greatest impact on overall cost of training. But according to a recent study published by Capterra, 26% of people are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their current LMS.
This article will identify the damage that can result from choosing an LMS that is "good enough", and explore what you can do to avoid them.
Damage of Choosing a Good Enough LMS
What kind of damage are we talking about? An LMS that is merely good enough can mean:
A. Poor Learner Motivation
Motivation is key to the success or failure of your training program, as even the best LMS will fail if your learners do not use it consistently.
You may think your chosen LMS is good enough if it offers, for example, an easy-to-use interface and interactive features.
However, is this enough in today's marketplace? It's important to choose an LMS that will give you more than the bare minimum (and yes, a user-friendly interface should be the very least you expect of your LMS!).
To really motivate your learners, you should look at features such as:
- Open Badges: Recognize learners for their achievements with Open Badges, which are embedded with metadata detailing skills and certifications, and sharable across social media platforms. Open Badges have been proven to increase participation, course completion and exam pass rates.
- Gamification: Does your chosen LMS offer a tier system, points, or a leaderboard? Tap into the innate competitiveness of your learners with features that both motivate and make learning fun with gamification, which not only creates competition, it also fosters cooperation, giving both internally- and externally-motivated learners reasons to participate.
- Multilingual Capability: One of the challenges of today's global marketplace is the need to reach learners that speak any number of different languages. You may think your LMS is "good enough" if it offers multiple languages, but nothing will sap the motivation of non-English speaking learners like poorly done translations. Look for an LMS that translates navigation instructions, and uses native speakers to translate content, not automated computer programs.
Of course, there are many more LMS features than these, and only you know which ones are just right for your organization. The point is that it's important to put in the time and determine which ones you need.
Don't invest in an LMS with the assumption your must-have features will be included!
B. Incomplete Reporting
Sure, all LMSs have some sort of reporting capability, but if you aren't able to pull the right reports for your organization, you're going to run into some trouble pretty quickly.
In fact, 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."
Reporting allows you to:
- Improve your training. Tracking completion rates, number of log-ins and assessment data all allow you to see what's working and what isn't. Maybe they would prefer bite-sized learning, or more mobile learning options? How about video content, or access to job aids or cheat sheets? 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. Ensure your LMS is able to show you where your successes are; this will allow you to make the changes you need to maximize the positives in your training program.
- Prove your ROI. Odds are, you had to convince key stakeholders to invest in the LMS. These decision-makers will be very interested to see what kind of return on investment they are getting. If your reporting features don't allow you to show how valuable your training program is, you may not be able to prove the value it brings to your organization.
C. Lack of scalability
A learning management system that can be adapted to changes in training or to future requirements as an organization grows is scalable.
Or, in a recent Capterra study, LMS users stated they had changes their LMS software because:
- The LMS lacked features needed
- The previous LMS wasn't supported
- The LMS didn't support company size
So, scalability is important. When you are talking to vendors about LMS features, ask about the scalability of their product. Find out about how often the product is upgraded, add-ons, ability to deliver to mobile platforms, etc.
D. Integration Issues
A common problem during LMS integration is that the LMS doesn't "communicate" with the existing systems, making data migration difficult or impossible.
In fact, according to a recent study, 49% of LMS users cited integration issues as a main cause for dissatisfaction.
The LMS needs to integrate seamlessly with the organization's existing systems to be effective. These include a Human Resource Information System (HRIS), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or Customer Relationship Management (CRM).
Your LMS should be capable of operating effortlessly allowing users to work through a variety of systems, different browsers, and mobile as well as desktop devices.
How Can You Do Better Than Good Enough?
Hopefully you now have some idea of why good enough isn't really good enough when you're choosing a learning management system software for your organization. What can you do to ensure you don't settle when choosing your new software?
Well, like I mentioned, the selection process can take a lot of time and resources, and there are some important steps you can't skip. You'll want to:
- Do your internal research - identify your business goals, develop a list of nice-to-have and must-have features, and define your ROI metrics.
- Do your external research - find vendors that offer not only the support you need but also the communication style you like, and who have experience working with similar clients.
- Look at your options - take part in demos and trials to test-run a few LMSs and see what is out there before you make your final decision.
Download our LMS Buying Guide for more information on how you can make sure your decision to invest in an LMS doesn't come back to haunt you.
This article has outlined some of the key dangers of choosing an LMS that's just good enough, and shown why that's not enough to ensure a successful training program. By learning some of the pitfalls that arise from making the quick and easy choice, and outlining some key steps you can do to make sure your LMS is a good organizational fit, you should now be better-prepared to go beyond good enough to great. An LMS is a huge investment, and a powerful tool in your training arsenal; take the time to ensure you make the right decision.
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Shauna graduated from the University of Toronto in 2002 with a Master of Arts in English before moving home to Calgary to work in the fast-paced, detail-oriented oil and gas industry. Now certified as a technical writer, Shauna is comfortable writing in a variety of styles, and for a variety of audiences.