The LMS has become a versatile tool, gaining in popularity among many industries since the worldwide adoption of virtual workspaces exploded to cope with the pandemic. But this shouldn’t mean that your learning and development should stop. No one can avoid carrying out day-to-day tasks, no matter what the situation, so then why are many companies and institutions stopping their hiring, training and learning?
Today most organizations, especially educational institutions, are keener to enabling an LMS for course delivery than ever before. There are few key things to consider in the process of LMS adoption. An LMS must be properly implemented to ensure it’s a worthy investment. Aspirants to this technology need to consider their budget and evaluate the technology to make sure it meets their needs before shortlisting it.
This article is designed to help newbies through a step-by-step LMS implementation procedure.
Step 1. Create a task-based team.
List all tasks and requirements to create a workflow and assign key people to oversee that process.
- Assign a key leader familiar with the LMS implementation process who knows the “need to haves vs. the want to haves” to be the point person who interacts with the vendor. This serves to ensure the soundness of the process while avoiding any requirement pitfalls.
- Pick a good project manager or point person to align the scope of project and track the results real time. LMS implementation comes with a lot of multitasking, organization skills, and responsibilities. Someone adept in overseeing projects is integral to a successful LMS rollout.
- Have an eLearning or subject matter expert (SME) within your team who knows your current training needs who can develop and prioritize course content and development. An LMS is only as good as the content you put into it. Asking an SME within your organization to help with course building will speed up the roll out process immensely.
- Appoint a good liaison or learning & development administrator to communicate progress to top organizational directors/managers to ensure alignment of the vision and goals behind the reasons for implementing an LMS. In other words, does your course content reflect the vision, strategy, compliance, knowledge retention, learning plans, and progress tracking goals and requirements?
- Identify and assign a technology expert or your IT department to handle the roll out of your LMS and any necessary integrations to other systems, such as a CRM or other database. While an IT expert is not always required for an out-of-the-box LMS, specific API integrations do require an IT person to make those connections.
Step 2. Configuration
Configuration typically involves a lot of accurate information and detailing of the project between you and the vendor to make sure both the vendor’s requirements line up with your requirements. There will also be security related permissions to set up, number of user accounts, courseware and curriculum structure that needs to be determined with accuracy. Also, the decision of using a cloud based/hosted SaaS solution (software-as-a-service Saas) vs. installing the LMS and hosting it on your own server must be made after discussions with your key stakeholders and on the front end of the process of choosing an LMS vendor.
Step 3. System integration
A good, modern LMS should be capable of integrating with other solutions. That is, the ability to “talk to” or exchange information (such as users) with another system. While it may not be needed now, this capability future proofs the addition of other databases you may want later. Modern and budget-friendly LMS is available in the market to accommodate your needs at whatever stage of adoption you’re at or needs you to have. Just make sure to do an apples-to-apples comparison of features, benefits, and costs.
Step 4. Course and Data Migration
Some LMS systems allow for data and/or course migration. Sometimes this is an existing feature but often, it’s a something that is done on the back end in conjunction with your team and the vendors implementation team. An upfront discussion with your vendor as to your expectations about data imports and migrations will help avoid any frustrations later. Points to keep in mind here are:
- Plan and decide what kind of content you need/want vs. what you have now, including the type of content (SCORM, video, documents etc.). Its faster and easier to use what you already have rather than developing new content unless it is necessary to update outdated training.
- Most LMS’s are not equipped to allow you to export courses which means you need to think about how you want to build your courses upfront. Translated, you typically retain the raw content (such as video or docs etc.) but you’re using the course authoring within the LMS to actually “build” and deliver the course.
- One way to easily transfer courses is to create them in a SCORM format so they are plug and play with any LMS with SCORM compliant capability. See What Is SCORM for more info.
Step 5. User Beta/Acceptance Testing
This critical step involves testing and evaluating both the content and the delivery system to ensure it makes sense and that it works properly. Thoroughly checking and evaluating prior to going live will allow you to make any necessary adjustments. Points to keep in mind here are:
- What have you created in the LMS’s courseware? Time to validate your data, course structure, intended audience, and functionality.
- Does the course curriculum, structure, flow, and certifications meet the learners needs and requirements? Using technology to ingrain learning should never affect the purpose of the training.
- Is the course and delivery system bug free?
- Are there any technical issues to contend with, such as outdated hardware, computers, browsers, bandwidth, mobile compatibility, or operating systems? Believe it or not, most issues are related to this point than any others.
Step 6. Go LIVE!
After all the testing and tailoring is done, it’s time to go LIVE! This is where all the previous steps, planning, testing etc. come together to deliver your online training experience. Make sure to maintain ongoing dialogs with your vendor to meet your needs, expectations and to troubleshoot any unforeseen issues. Also, it’s good to create a contingency plan as a backup in case something goes wrong. It never hurts to have a “Plan B”. After all, this is an investment in terms of dollars and human capital! So, use your new LMS to better engage with your teams, staff, volunteers etc. and to provide the training needed to develop, nurture, and grow your talent pool and organization.