In today’s knowledge economy, employee training can make or break the growth of ambitious companies. In addition to fueling the performance and growth mindset of employees, learning and development initiatives are crucial for retention: Over 7 in 10 employees are more likely to stay with a company that offers continuous training.
At the same time, 85% of HR leaders find training beneficial for organizational growth. Against a backdrop of volatile market conditions, the world is going through, offering consistent learning and development opportunities can help your staff thrive in the face of changes, and keep your company on a steady growth path.
The sped-up digitalization has created an urgency to transition from onsite to online training, bringing along a mushrooming number of training platforms. But separating the wheat from the chaff is crucial when choosing the right tool to train your employees. This article will shed light on different types and features of training platforms, to help you choose the one that fits your unique needs.
But first thing first. What is LMS and why is it the most widespread tool for employee training?
A Learning Management System (LMS) is a hub for all your training needs. It is software for creating, tracking, and delivering training — along with measuring its success. You can use it to deliver learning content in many different formats – such as videos, docs, presentations, quizzes, and more. And you can deliver that content to employees, clients, or partners.
You want a solution that is easy to implement, easy to use, and which can scale with your company and teams as they grow. You don’t want to end up with a solution that is difficult to implement, has a low employee buy-in, or is cost-prohibitive to keep in the long run, as this would create unnecessary roadblocks in the learning flow within your organization.
The components outlined in this article can serve as a guide for evaluating an LMS against your needs — to help you reach an informed decision on which one is the most optimal match for your learning needs and budget.
What are the different types of LMS?
There are several different types of LMSs in the market, but the main categories are:
This type of LMS is installed in your company’s server, allowing you flexibility with setup, and has low security risk. However, locally-hosted LMS means that your own team will have to do the system’s maintenance and keep it up to date, which can become time-consuming and end up being a significant cost.
A cloud-based LMS is hosted on a vendor’s server and is ready for use without the need to install any software. Since you don’t have to set it up yourself, it’s cost-effective, in addition to being easily accessible from everywhere. It comes with tech support from the vendors, which saves you a ton of time and ensures it will always be up to date and running smoothly.
What factors to consider when choosing an LMS?
Who is going to use this tool? Different groups of learners have different needs, which is important to consider.
For example, if this LMS is mostly meant for client training, you’ll pay attention to speed and security, alongside integrations with popular communications tools. If you’re selling courses to customers, you’ll need more capabilities like an eCommerce function. And if the LMS is going to be used by your team, then you need to ensure it integrates with video-conference tools, and has gamification features to make it more engaging
Free trial and subsequent flexibility in pricing
Many vendors offer a limited free trial period, but what you need is a free trial without a time limit. This will allow you to try the tool in a variety of scenarios before committing to buy.
Flexible pricing is also crucial when you’re considering an LMS: you don’t want to stump on hidden or additional costs later if your team grows, or keep paying for features you never use.
Setup and implementation time
Not every company can have a dedicated LMS implementation team. That’s why you should consider the setup and implementation time carefully. You want to keep that time spent at a minimum, by choosing a user-friendly and intuitive LMS that will be easy to set up. The ideal solution will allow new users to start learning in just a few clicks.
The success or failure of your LMS lies in how easy, intuitive, and engaging it is for your employees and intended learners to use it. When considering your options, keep in mind some of the features that will make learners’ life easier and the whole process more engaging: gamification features, white label functionality (to customize the look and feel of your portal), Single Sign-On functionality for quicker login, discussion forums, and a mobile app — so that your learners can train on the go.
Integrations with other tools
An LMS needs to be seamlessly connected with the other communication and collaboration tools you’re using. Otherwise, your team’s productivity and workflow will suffer. Ensure the LMS of your choice has integrations with video-conferencing tools, HR tools, CRM and team project management platforms, and calendar and communication tools such as Slack and Google Calendar.
As the graph below shows, ready-made courses are the top-rated feature of an LMS for employees, with 51% who’d like to see them in their online learning platform.
So, when considering which LMS to go for, it’s very important to choose one with an existing library of content that will allow your employees to start learning from day one. Not having to create your own content from scratch saves you time and resources, while ensuring you’re delivering the high-quality content your learners need.
Other key LMS features
While the factors mentioned above are the most important ones, the list is definitely not exhaustive. Some other key LMS features you should be looking for are:
- Mobile-optimized design
- Intuitive UX
- Reporting functionality
- Handy automations
- Customizable certifications
How can you make sure you’ve picked the best LMS?
To ensure you’re making the right choice for your needs, use the criteria mentioned in this article as a checklist when evaluating learning platforms.
Opt for a solution with a free trial, so that you can test the platform and make sure it meets your requirements. Another crucial consideration is reliable and hassle-free cloud hosting, so you don’t need to self-host your training platform. Finally, built-in post-training surveys will allow you to measure the success of the learning program and locate areas of improvement by collecting feedback from learners.
In any case, it’s important to test drive several solutions before you commit, and look at them through the lens of all the different people who will use the platform, from learners and trainers to administrators and managers.
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