Before shopping for learning management software, know what you want. Put on a business hat and decide on a strategy for running your talent management and then, consequentially, your learning business. Develop a clear vision of the learner experience. Identify what type of learning content needs to be pushed out to or pulled out by whom, how, and for what reason and desired results. Think through what the software needs to be able to do. Some learning management systems (LMS) are so comprehensive and flexible that they can do just about anything. That's one reason why it’s very important to be clear on exactly what needs to be accomplished.
Even with the best learning management system, training can only succeed when it is founded on a solid talent management infrastructure. Learning management is not just about learning and development; it's equally about workforce planning. Create a talent management strategy beyond learning. What kind of talent does the company need over the next 10 years? What kind of learning and what volume of business will the learning management system be handling? Only when those questions have been answered can you design systems that support the volume and variety of tomorrow's workforce. Whether you need a hosted solution or plan to manage the system in house, understand what it will take to run the learning business before shopping around.
An LMS should be flexible enough to fulfill both the simplest and the most complex of needs. With little customization, it should be able to handle a bare-bones program such as serving learning on 10 competencies to a small group of people. However, it should also be customizable to accomplish much more complex goals, such as those of Microsoft's Engineering Excellence team.
Know how much help you need. A company with minimal IT staff may require a great deal of support. In that case, it may be wise to select a vendor that can come in and handle the whole implementation or provide a hosted solution. On the other hand, a tech-savvy company such as Microsoft may want considerable freedom, and no vendor personnel getting in the way, when it comes to implementation and customization.
Alice Shepherd is a Southern California-based business-to-business journalist specializing in training and development topics. For more information, visit www.tradepressservices.com or call 805-496-8850. To learn more about GeoMetrix Data Systems Inc.’s learning management system, TrainingPartner , call 800-616-5409 or visit www.trainingpartner.com