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4 Reasons the LMS Fails to Manage Instructor-Led Training—and What to Do About It

Monday, January 13, 2020
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Likely a core component of your learning tech stack, the learning management system (LMS) struggles to manage instructor-led training (ILT). It simply wasn’t designed to do so. With ILT likely one of your largest training investments, what can you do about it?

Understanding Instructor-Led Training Operations

ILT is fundamentally different from e-learning; it involves more complex back-office processes and a wider range of strategic resources. As a result, ILT tends to be costlier. One question is crucial in understanding why LMSs fall short in ILT management: What’s most important to you when managing ILT?

A successful ILT program generally hinges on the achievement of three core goals:

1. streamlining logistics, scheduling, and administration
2. managing resources
3. optimizing the budget.

So why do LMSs fall short in addressing training logistics, administrative, and financial challenges?

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Different Challenges

ILT and e-learning have different strengths and challenges: ILT’s main strength is its effectiveness (56 percent of organizations find ILT very effective versus 21 percent for e-learning, according to Brandon Hall Group), and its main weakness is lower cost efficiency. E-learning’s main strength is its low cost and flexibility, and its main challenge is delivering engaging, effective training. Considering these radically different challenges, it isn’t surprising that the technologies to address them should be different.

The E-Learning Mindset

The LMS initially is designed to optimize the delivery of online learning, which is why many of the features listed above, such as test score tracking and downloading documents, make sense as extensions of e-learning features. So even if an LMS offers some tweaks to manage ILT, its expertise will remain on the delivery rather than the organizational side. Features such as resource management and cost tracking, which are the core of ILT management, will come as peripheral features, if included at all.

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Optimized for Front-Office Interaction, Not Back-Office

The unifying theme in LMS features is the focus on front-office interaction with learners—student self-registration, downloading material, and the like. These features are not centered on your administrators’ needs. When managing ILT, you want to be thinking about collaboration within your training teams. Visualizing available instructors and resources? Quickly detecting your SME’s skills? Instantly updating training schedules? Accessing session costs in real-time? These are all things LMSs are not built to facilitate.

Learner-Centric, Not Session-Centric

From a technical point of view, LMS software uses the learner as a building block, not the session. This is not optimal for ILT, for which the business logic is driven by the training session. An example is cost distribution: An LMS consolidates cost per learner to define session costs. However, most ILT costs are fixed regardless of the number of learners: room reservation, instructor fee, and so forth. This is the reason LMSs struggle to provide accurate cost tracking. It also means LMSs have a hard time planning future investments for which learners are not yet identified by name.

How can you optimize instructor-led training?

  • Focus on relevant processes that drive ILT efficiency.
  • Maximize Resources: Have a clear repository of all your resources and keep track of occupancy rates to optimize session financial efficiency.
  • Rationalize Logistics: Plan steps that must happen before, during, and after each training session; communicate which team should be responsible for each step; and track task completion.
  • Track Costs: Consolidating accurate data is crucial for budget optimization. This can only be done by tracking investments across different business units, countries, and currencies.
  • Create a proactive training plan and monitor progress: Use precise forecasts of training volume and costs to plan long-term, and track improvement of key performance indicators (KPIs) year after year.
About the Author

Olivier Servelle is sales development director for Training Orchestra.

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