A rather recent study predicts that the LMS market will grow from $2.55 billion in 2013 to $7.83 billion in 2018, at a CAGR of 25.2%. In terms of regions, North America is expected to be the biggest market in terms of revenue contribution, while Asia-Pacific and Latin America are expected to experience increased market traction during the forecast period.

41.7% percent of global Fortune 500 companies already use computer based educational technology for employee development. It is estimated that by 2019, roughly half of all college classes will be conducted in e-learning form. As the report states: “Major forces driving this market are the increasing adoption of e-learning, businesses emphasizing on continuous learning practices, accountability mandates, and the market trend of employing cloud technology to streamline the learning process. LMS solutions create economies of scale and make learning and development less costly for organizations.”

There is a button for anything

The incredible advancements in e-learning have changed the approach companies take to learning and development. As a result, any serious organization must have a serious Learning Management System (LMS). Basically this is a platform or software that administers everything having to do with e-learning courses – from placing them on learning paths, setting prerequisites, enrolling participants to generating comprehensive spreadsheets with results.

The feature list is most often very comprehensive and the ‘help’ button is probably the most used.

I personally have spent countless hours trying to figure out exactly how to perform a rather simple task. The trouble with most LMS platforms is that usually they are designed in order to be used by everyone, from trainers to CFOs, to generate all sorts of reports and certifications, and it takes a whole training program just to figure out how to use it.

So rather than just going for the LMS version with the most features, you need to figure out what exactly would meet the needs of your organization in terms of learning and training metrics. Keep in mind that it is supposed to make everything simpler, not more complicated.

LMS essentials

There are some pieces that cannot be missing though. First of all, it needs to be able to integrate custom-authored learning content and include various assessment tools to properly evaluate it. Second, you’ll need to integrate data from your human resources information system or from some other source in order to enroll e-learning participants.

For a more advanced diagnosis it should include competency and skill models which can help learners access specialized content to help with their roles within the organization. And last but not least, a good LMS has to generate useful reports on learner progress so you can keep track of who completed what course and how well.

Having all these however, does not guarantee that the LMS platform you choose (and which will probably be a rather costly investment) will be successful right away. It takes time to work out all the tweaks and even more time for the employees to get on board and start using it to its full potential.

Three questions you should ask before choosing an LMS

Once you have picked one LMS platform you need to ask three questions to check if you have made the right decision:

  • Are the managers satisfied?

    Managers are in charge with enrolling members of their teams in specific courses or agreeing to learning paths so getting their buy-in is very important. Ask them what they think about the platform, the content and the results they expect. It is important to manage those expectations and ‘sell’ the LMS efficiently.

  • Are the learners engaged?

    Ask your learners if they believe they are getting value out of the system and content, to increase their skill-set and further their careers. Even if their hierarchical superiors are on board and agree to enroll them in e-learning out of the company time, the learners should also be motivated to complete the courses. Ask them if they find the content relevant to their job and what improvements they would like you to make. Even if you may be very excited about what the platform can do and how great the e-learning material is, don’t go about enrolling everybody in everything. It will not prove that it was money well spent but rather that employee time is not thoughtfully consummated.

  • Does it bring added value for the organization?

    Quantifying training results can be hard but having a good LMS means you can generate all sorts of reports. Simple metrics such as revenue per employee, retention and engagement are important and can show just how good the LMS is for training efficiency and organizational success.

If the managers are happy and the employees engaged and retained, organizational success is a given. A well-chosen LMS platform can be the best investment.

Author: Roxana M

Roxana is a learning and development professional with over 10 years experience in corporate training.