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Learn to Love Your LMS

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

You sit at your desk contemplating the news that your company wants to move to a new learning management system. As you begin to consider the scope of this project, you wonder where to start.

Every LMS has its pros and cons. The key is to do your best to avoid buyer’s remorse. Organizations can do this by creating user personas, evaluating their learning environment, and hiring the right person to manage their learning technology.

Sounds simple, right? But things can go astray during the Request For Proposals (RFP) process. Indeed, conducting an RFP can be an intimidating prospect. For some, the terminology may be confusing, the features listed may seem miles beyond where the organization needs to be, or everything seems to be a critical must-have.

You don't want to become distracted by features that do not fit your organization or ones better solutioned outside of an LMS. In fact, in my experience, your end goal is to be using 60-70 percent of all LMS features from the start, and even have room to grow into the remaining elements.


Case in point: a mobile app for an LMS is a feature that your organization may not be ready to put in place right at launch. However, when you offer leadership mobile as an option, they jump on it because there is a lot of hype at the moment. (In their defense, they understand the pressure to grow and retain employees, and that technology plays an ever-growing part in talent retention.)

Before you mark mobile a must-have feature, take a step back and remember your goal of using at least 60 percent of what you purchase in an LMS during year one. Consequently, you should first develop your organization's user personas and conduct a learning environment evaluation.

Let’s use a retail environment as an example. First, you determine that the primary user persona is a frontline hourly customer-facing employee. Next, you evaluate your learning environment by asking such questions as:

  • Do you want employees on phones or tablets on the floor?
  • If you do, is there Wi-Fi available for them to connect to network resources?
  • Will employees use their personal device or will the company provide devices for them?
  • If a company-provided device, have you planned and assessed for user accountability and shrink?
  • If an employee’s personal device, do you need to have a policy for BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and cybersecurity?

As you can see, choosing an LMS isn’t a simple decision. Unfortunately, many organizations rush into purchasing and fail to consider the cultural and compliance dependencies that an LMS can create. Ultimately, they end up hating their LMS. Don’t be one of those companies.

Are you looking for resources on how to choose the best LMS for your company? Join me at ATD TechKnowledge 2018 for the session: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the LMS, which is part of the Platforms and Tools track. You will receive a free copy of the Love Your LMS Toolkit, which includes a learning environment evaluation template.

About the Author
I love what I do because I help people thrive at work.

I am the founder of the Combs Cantu Group, a woman owned talent development firm in Austin, TX. The Combs Cantu Group is a transformation agent that works with organizations to build, implement, and stabilize learning processes, programs, and systems that reinforce a positive employee experience and drive business results.

My leadership style is collaborative and empowers others to contribute while generating positive business results. I thrive in environments that focus on innovation, collaboration, and results.

I am a current National Advisor for Chapters, and a former President, for the Association for Talent Development. I have worked in global Learning and HR leadership capacities for Fortune 500 companies such as Continental Airlines and Whole Foods Market.
1 Comment
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Great article! It's hard to see so many struggle with buyer's remorse when it comes to their LMS. Taking the time to develop personas and 'day (month, quarter, and year) in the life' scripts for those personas can help organizations select an LMS they'll love way after the honeymoon.
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