If you want to know how to choose the best LMS for your organisation, here’s your answer…

There isn’t one.

I’m not being facetious either.

I’m willing to bet that, with all information in front of them, no-one in your organisation really wants an LMS. Even L&D, generally, want an LMS – or at least they think they do – in the absence of knowing what they really want, or need. So let’s start there…

Too often, L&D look to buy an LMS because they haven’t got one… or their current LMS ‘needs’ updating or replacing.

But why?

What problem are you really trying to solve with an LMS? Is the only problem that you don’t have one? That you want to create a single destination for ‘learning’? That you want to track learning – and compliance? Or do you want to automate some of the administration around course booking and attendance tracking?

Have you noticed that none of these reasons are for the benefit of the people L&D serve – the employees in our organisations and what they are employed to do? And is that why they all go to Google instead?

Revisiting the initial question: How do you choose the best LMS for your organisation?

It’s the wrong question. That question demonstrates a complete lack of understanding – and ambition – as far as digital L&D is concerned.

Replace this question with two smarter ones:

In my opinion, L&D exists in organisations to enhance performance and organisational capability and, in this regard, plays an integral role. However – and I see this far too often – in many organisations, the L&D online element is no more than just content provision and, with all due respect, Google have already solved the content problem.

The gap that remains for L&D is everything that stems from:

How do we (should we) do things at this company?

Working closely with employees, who really need help to overcome their daily challenges, will determine what they really need help with and how digital technology can support.

And so it doesn’t start with: What’s the best LMS?

It starts with: What are we trying to achieve?

For which you may not know the answer right now because some priorities emerge over time. But that is still no reason to buy a feature-packed system just in case.

A smarter way is to bring in ‘best of breed’ applications for specific purposes. There is zero risk in doing so, as you can run small experiments to see if users will engage and that these applications make the difference you need them to. And if they don’t, you can rip them out and replace them with others, at no significant cost – that’s both money and reputation.

There is no excuse for outsourcing the digital element of L&D, when it has the potential to make a much bigger difference to overall performance and capability compared with the traditional approaches that keep L&D imprisoned within a classroom.

3 Things More Important Than Choosing The Best LMS

  1. A clear idea of what you want to achieve. Not forever but with your biggest priorities now and in the mid-term.
  2. Confirmation from your clients that what you want to achieve is what they want to achieve. Put them first. You will not get any meaningful engagement if you’re not helping them to do what they want to do on a day-to-day basis and in the context of their careers at your company.
  3. And then, you need the most appropriate digital technology tools to help you help your clients. The right technologies will provide friction-free access to the information, know-how and insights they need, when and how they need them, with in-depth analytics to understand how they engage.

Don’t buy an LMS, or any other learning technology, thinking it will be ‘the answer’. Workers don’t need an online destination for learning and they don’t need content. They need help with their work and career-related goals. Choose the right technology to compliment your approach to addressing the specifics of these, and continuously listen to your clients, and experiment with new tools, that address and reduce their friction.

Digital, in the context of L&D, is far too important to outsource to an LMS vendor.

David James is Digital Learning Strategist with Looop and was Director of Talent, Learning & OD for The Walt Disney Company’s EMEA region until 2014.

Now an authority in contemporary L&D practices, David works with businesses, globally, to develop and implement social, agile and digital learning strategies that make learning work, with Looop.

See also:

Next Generation L&D: From ‘Learning’ To ‘Performance’

Why We’re STILL All Trying To Fix The Induction Problem

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