What is an LMS and How Can It Take Your Training to the Next Level

A Learning Management System (LMS) is a software application that automates the administration, tracking, and reporting of training events and performs the following functions:

  • Centralize and automate administration
  • Use self-service and self-guided services
  • Assemble and deliver learning content rapidly
  • Consolidate training initiatives on a scalable web-based platform
  • Support portability and standards
  • Personalize content and enable knowledge reuse

It should also be able to integrate with HR or accounting enterprise application solutions that will allow measurement of impact, effectiveness and cost of training initiatives. (Ellis, 2009)

To explain this further, an LMS is a software system that lets you plan, assign, and deliver both traditional classroom courses as well as e-learning courses. You can catalogue courses and assign them to learners based on their learning need. Users login to the LMS and find out the courses they are supposed to take and follow the online instructions. Managers or administrators can track how many users have taken the courses, how many have completed, and how they have fared. This becomes a boon for evaluating their performance and also to assess if the training has accomplished its desired goals.

What can an LMS do?

Broadly speaking, an LMS helps you to perform three vital functions of training:

  1. User Management - Create a database of users or simply align the HR system with the LMS where the credentials of employees are automatically captured.
  2. Course Management - Create a database of courses, upload online courses and other digital resources that can be accessed by learners.
  3. Records and Reports Management - Track learner progress at an individual level and the effectiveness of the training program at a broader level.

Here is a presentation that explains vividly how having an LMS will support training management in your organization.

Is an LMS Costly?

Previously, proprietary LMSs were the only option available to organizations. As a result, only large and well-funded organizations could afford to install an LMS. However, with open source Learning Management Systems (LMSs), even small and mid-sized business entities are able to benefit from LMSs. One of the most popular open source LMS is the - Modular Object Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment, commonly known as MOODLE(Hicks, 2016).

The best part of MOODLE is that it is open source, and guided by the General Public License (GPL) policy. It means there is no per user fee or license fee. If you don’t have in-house experts who are proficient in installing MOODLE, you might have to solicit the help of experts. This cost is usually nominal and quite affordable, even for mid-size or small organizations on a tight budget.

So, if you don’t have an LMS, now is a good time to consider getting one. In the next segment, I will share how LMSs can support the different training needs of your organization.

How Can LMSs Support Training?

With rapid changes in the market and business environment, you need to train employees on a continual basis. Managing training, particularly in the context of a dispersed workforce and diverse training needs is no easy task. Learning Management Systems are therefore the best option for training management. You can integrate the LMS with your existing CRM or choose to operate independently based on the policies and regulations of your organization. You can have an LMS exclusively for your own department such as a marketing/sales department or compliance department. For example, if you don’t want your dealers or channel partners to have access to your company’s secured servers you can have an LMSs just for them to host their training courses.

LMS for Compliance and HR Training

Compliance training is often met with moans and groans and is not limited to employees but even the managers who have to coordinate and organize the training programs. More so, if employee number is large and spread across multiple locations. Often, updates in the rules also have to be shared with employees and refresher trainings conducted.

LMS for Compliance and HR Training

However, with an LMS, compliance training can be a fairly smooth process. Having compliance training deployed via an LMS ensures that:

  • Training is uniform and consistent across divisions and offices. All employees can take the courses at the same time. It is easier to meet with compliance or regulatory deadlines.
  • Courses are online and have interactive and engaging elements that make compliance content less boring and monotonous. Courses can be supplemented with job-aids, reference material, kits, or guides for easy access.
  • Administrators or managers can track who are taking the courses, how many have completed and who are yet to start. It is easy to follow-up and send reminders to individuals who are yet to commence the course.
  • Reports required by regulatory authorities to document the completion of training are generated easily. The reports can be created based on not just regulatory requirements but even for the purpose of training evaluation.
  • Courses are up-to-date. It is easy to update online courses, thereby ensuring that the courses are always current and relevant.
  • Deploying mandatory compliance, health and safety issues via an LMS is cost-effective because with a one-time effort, courses can reach a larger group and can be taken over and over again. If needed, courses can also be amended our updated but that does not incur too much effort or cost.

LMS for Sales Training

If you are a sales manager, you know how hard it is to get your sales people together at a single place. Added to that, if you would like to include your dealers, distributors, or customers, the problem is only compounded. However, if your entire training content is hosted on an LMS, it becomes easier to assign relevant courses to your sales team, dealers, distributors, or even customers.

Hosting your sales courses on the LMS provides the following benefits:

  • You can have all training content for your multiple audiences - sales force, dealers, distributors, channel partners, or customers - at a single place. You can assign courses based on their individual training need.
  • You can have training content in multiple formats and for multiple devices. LMSs will be able to not only deliver but also track trainings that are accessed not just on PCs but also mobile devices.
  • Sales people learn most through peer to peer interactions. Through online collaborative platform in the LMS, sales people can share their experiences, ask peers solutions to their problems, or seek suggestions to better handle a particular situation.

The best part of coordinating training via an LMS is that you can track, monitor, and evaluate training at every stage. This allows you to take corrective actions or measures to ensure that there are more registrations and completions of courses. It is also easy to get feedback on the training which will help in improving future programs.

Conclusion:

HR, Compliance, and Sales Training are just some examples, but an LMS is beneficial for all types of training. The latest LMSs are empowered with sophisticated features that make is easy to deliver training in multiple languages, across multiple devices. They also have features that allow peer to peer interactions which are always an essential part of learning and growing for individuals. The bottom line is that the LMS has to be designed keeping in mind the learning needs and training objectives of the organization. Martin Dougiamas, Computer Scientist and Educator aptly said that ‘Roots of a good LMS lay in understanding the learning needs well, rather than concentrating merely on technology’.

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