In June and July of 2010, Learning Circuits ran a quick survey on how readers were using their learning management systems (LMSs). LC asked such questions as "Do you build or buy?" "What system do you use?" and "What are the must-have features?" Here are the results (based on 342 responses).

Current systems

First, nearly 90 percent of respondents are using LMSs in their organizations. This is merely an 8 percent increase over responses to the 2009 survey.

Figure 1| Does Your Organization Use an LMS?

The 2010 results find that more than half (52.3 percent) of respondents are purchasing rather than building (11.8 percent) their systems, and nearly one-fourth (23.5 percent) are opting to go with a hosted platform. Choosing an hosted solution was almost double the 2009 figure (11.9 percent).

Figure 2| How Did Your Organization Acquire Its LMS?

And whether built or bought, the majority of respondents claim to be satisfied with their current LMS, with 5.9 percent reporting in at "very satisfied" and 41.2 percent at "satisfied." Although generally satisfied, there was a major flip since the 2009 results in the number of respondents who were satisfied versus very satisfied (22.9 percent were very satisfied in 2009). Likewise, the number of users claiming to be only "somewhat satisfied" saw a 10 percent increase over last year, moving from 25.6 percent in 2009 to 35.3 percent in 2010. Finally, some 15.4 report that they are "very unsatisfied," with an additional 7.8 saying they are "unsatisfied."

Figure 3| How Satisfied Is Your Organization with Its LMS?

Usage and features

Currently, a majority of respondents (81.8 percent) are choosing to go with a strict LMS rather than a strict learning content management system (LCMS), with only 3 percent responding positively. And only a little more than one-tenth (12.1 percent), however, are using an LMS/LCMS combo. This is a significant change over 2009, which had a larger number of LMS/LCMS combo offerings.

Figure 4| How Is Your LMS Configured?

Given this data, it's no surprise that the number 1 reason respondents report for implementing an LMS is to centralize the management of learning activities (57.6 percent). However, this number is down some 10 percent over 2009. All other reasons for implementing an LMS fall a far second. Tracking regulatory compliance did see an increase over 2009 numbers, coming in at second in 2010, with some 33.3 percent weighing in. While measuring training usage and measuring employee performance fell in importance in 2010, with only 21.2 percent reporting in. (See complete list below.)

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Figure 5| Why Did Your Organization Implement an LMS (select 2)?

When asked to rank the most valuable features, assessment and testing topped the chart at 54.5 percent, followed closely by reporting at 51.5 percent. Coming in at third place was compliance tracking at 39.4 percent. This was a decided change over 2009 figures in which content management ranked number 2 and reporting number 3. Surprisingly, collaboration tool integration was one of the lowest ranked features, coming in at only 9 percent. (See complete list below.)

Figure 6| What Are the Most Valuable Features of Your LMS (select 3)?

Challenges

This year there are two main challenges surrounding LMS implementation and usage: system performance and content integration (both garnering 35.3 percent). Perhaps due to the growing number of hosted installations, customization requirements fell more than 20 percent since the 2009 (from 46.6 to 23.5 percent), falling a distance fourth employee buy-in (32.4 percent) and system administration (29.4 percent). (See complete list below.)

Figure 7| What Are the Biggest Challenges in Implementing Your LMS (select all that apply)?

The future

Whether a reaction to the economic upswing, a result of satisfaction rankings, or a combination of factors, it appears that more organizations are planning to acquire a new system. Whereas in 2009, 44 percent of respondents opted to keep their current systems, only one-third (33.3 percent) plan to do so in 2010. However, nearly one-third (30.6 percent) of respondents do plan to purchase a new system, up nearly 20 percent over 2009 (13.2 percent). Meanwhile, only 8.2 percent are planning to upgrade their current system, as opposed to 24.2 percent in last year's results. Finally, a relatively stable number of respondents (11.1 percent) are making plans to build something in-house.

Figure 8| What Are Your Plans for the Next 12 Months?