Investing in a learning management system (LMS) is not a decision your organisation should take lightly. While a LMS can yield an excellent return on investment, there are many trappings that need to be avoided if it is going to add significant value to your organisation. Here’s five LMS decision making and procurement myths that we think deserve to be debunked.
Myth 1: We need to buy a LMS
Fact: Too many organisations, when they embark on the e-learning road, assume they need a LMS. Many don’t need a LMS, or they need something with far fewer bells and whistles.
Myth 2: We don’t need a list of requirements
Fact: If you do not develop a list of requirements before selecting a LMS, you are unlikely to end up with a LMS that will meet your needs.
Requirements should, at a minimum, address:
- Business needs that drive instructional initiatives
- Learning and performance support needs
- Tracking needs
- Assessment needs
- Reporting and analytics needs
- Content development needs
- Budget constraints
- Security issues
- Who will install, maintain, and upgrade
- Integration with other applications
You should develop your requirements prior to talking to LMS vendors. After developing your requirements, it’s a good idea to create scenarios that describe common and important uses of the system. These become the specific workflows for vendors to demonstrate.
Myth 3: We need to meet with vendors first
Fact: If you meet with vendors before developing requirements, you are likely to be sold a LMS rather than selecting one to meet your needs.
If you invite vendors to come in and do product demos before you know what you need, ‘cool features’ may impress you. At the least, it will colour your requirements and likely increase the cost of purchase, maintenance, and use.
Myth 4: It’s ok to let vendors select the use-case scenarios
Fact: If you let vendors choose what to demo, they will usually show well-rehearsed scenarios that they know work flawlessly.
Instead, insist that they demonstrate the scenarios you developed during the requirements phase.
Myth 5: We can make decisions based on demonstrations
Fact: Product demos should not be the only basis for making a selection decision.
You must weight them with other factors, such as:
- Analysis of the support for and viability of the underlying LMS technology by IT staff or consultants.
- Analysis of vendor’s stability and capacity to be a long-term strategic partner.
- Review of vendors’ software development processes, including how they upgrade their application and how they respond to customer requests and needs.
- Evaluation of support supplied after the sale.
- Review of references and case studies gleaned from customer implementations in the prior 1-2 years (not just the short list of glowing testimonials that vendors are likely to supply).