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7 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About LMS Implementation

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Thu Mar 31 2016

7 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About LMS Implementation
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You have selected your new learning management system. Now what? Here are seven things I wish someone had told me about implementation—before I implemented my organization’s LMS.

#1: Users Don’t Differentiate Between LMS and Content

The actual LMS contributes to just 50 percent of the user experience; the remaining 50 percent is content. Just because you are replacing your legacy LMS (or are adopting an LMS for the first time), you don’t have to migrate every single course that exists. Instead, establish the scope of your migration (number of courses that you want to add to the system). Evaluate what is required, and get a formal sign-off from your business stakeholders.

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Once you know your scope, prioritize how you will migrate the courses to the new system (now? later? never?). To prioritize content migration, answer two questions: “How many courses have had the maximum enrollments and how recently?” and “Are there courses that have not been used at all (zero enrollments) in the last six to 12 months?”

Next, you will need to consider course compatibility with the new LMS. Every course must be played and tested end-to-end—from launch to successful completion. Be prepared to shell out extra (I mean a lot of extra) money to either fix or recreate courses that are not compatible. This is a great time to clean up your course catalog.

#2: Prepare for the “Free-Text” Fields

Administrators will be required to fill out and update fields. No surprise, free fields can prove a major stumbling block for LMS implementation. Given the complexity (variety) of most learning offerings and reporting requirements, it can take a long time to standardize naming conventions, for example. Keep in mind the phrase: “Garbage in; garbage out.” If you fail to determine standards for individual fields, your future reports will need constant clean-up.

#3: Gather Reporting Requirements from All Stakeholders

Be sure to look outside the L&D team for input on reporting requirements. You will want to connect with cross-functional teams for these requirements. For instance, your IT team may require a list of certification courses you offer, paired with the names of certified professionals in the organization. Your sales or business development group may have a special list of requirements to gauge the leadership readiness of your talent pool; you will likely need to incorporate this list into your search parameters.

#4: Keep Security Roles and Rights Simple

The LMS administrator is a powerful role. This person has the capability to add, modify, and delete user records and course data. In my experience, it’s best to limit your admin groups. You will, of course, need a super admin, who manages info at the organization level. Next, there will be specific group admins for L&D, frontline business teams, or regional areas, among other specified admins. These admins will need access to such features as sign-ups, completion rates, surveys, and more.

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Smart implementation will develop a role-based access matrix or grid to help make access-related decisions. For any new admin access request, ask the business to define the role and purpose. Never expose the entire grid to the business; if you do, they would obviously want everything.

#5: Develop Internal and External Audit Requirements

Even if your LMS is not going to be in-scope for an external audit, you must have governance and internal audits to track changes, addition, modifications, deletion of users, system configuration, system access, and so forth. Consider the following questions (not an exhaustive list):

  • What is the process of granting admin rights? 

  • Who can request for admin rights and who all can grant access? 

  • Is there a formal admin training and certification process? 

  • What is the process of requesting any system-related changes (customization, enhancements, and configuration)? 

  • Who can make the system-related changes? 

  • How is a user added to or removed from the system? 

  • How do you keep a track of changes made to the system?

#6: Take User Experience (UX) Seriously

How do you present a learning ecosystem that is easy to use and intuitive—and addresses geographies, domain/function, roles, experience, competencies, training needs, and so forth? First, don’t designer your user experience (UX) solely for learners; consult with learners, admin, and managers. These various cohorts need to decide—and define—what they want to experience rather than the L&D implementation team.

Also, keep in mind that UX is an iterative process. Obtain user input via surveys, focus groups, and so on. Then, you need to launch beta versions. Rinse and repeat. Trust me: UX is a science in itself. You might need to engage a consultant to avoid spending too much time (and money) solving user problems later.

#7: Structure a Complete Implementation Team

Although the size of your team will depend on the number of users the LMS will support, you still must plan for several specific roles:

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  • Social/Mobile Learning Strategist: A social platform to connect learners is a common feature of any best-in-class LMS. A specialist in these areas can help gauge whether your organization is ready to add these options to your learning portfolio.  

  • User Experience Specialist: This person on your team will work with users on a continuous basis to seek feedback on how to make the learning process easy and content user-friendly.  

  • Content Hosting and Management Authority: A leader in this role will oversee content creation and curation, as well as maintain the content life-cycle (relevance, revise, recreate or retire). For example, this role will conduct thorough testing before publishing content to the LMS.  

  • Daily Operations and Maintenance Manager: You will need someone to manage daily help desk calls, technical issues, and query resolution.  

  • Governance and Audit Expert: Defining policies and procedures is integral for success. A governance expert can not only develop guidelines, but also ensure adherence and conduct internal audits.

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