What is an LMS?

What is an LMS?

An LMS is a Learning Management System – it is effectively software that manages the delivery of educational courses, usually within an organisation. It can also generate reports and track progress of the learners who leverage it.

Why is an LMS important for organisations?

A company is only as good as its people, and hiring, developing, and retaining good people requires good planning and processes. An Learning Management Software can provide a great backbone for enabling structured learning and development through an online portal. It can have many great applications, including:

  • Onboarding new employees – providing collated content that covers all of the critical information they need to get up and running and be successful within their role.
  • Large scale transformation pushes – for example taking a heavy offline marketing focused organisation and re-skilling the employees with digital marketing related skills.
  • Ongoing employee upskilling either as required by the organisation or requested by the employees through their ongoing performance and development plans.

Key users of an LMS system are typically as follows:

Human Resources [HR]:

  • Desire to create a culture of continuous learning;
  • Need to reach an audience across the whole organisation;
  • Want to guarantee compliance as an organisation;
  • Want workforce to adapt to new skills.

Line Managers:

  • Desire for team members to have opportunities to develop, grow and be retained at the organisation;
  • Mapping specific courses to agreed upon development plans.

Employees / End Users:

  • Required to learn because of industry standards/regulations;
  • Desire to be a competent performer in order to do the job well;
  • Desire to improve performance, progress towards new role, and be intellectually stimulated and fulfilled.

In today’s digital world and fast-paced business environments, learning has become even more important. In order to keep up with new technologies which are being developed all the time, around half of employees will need new skills by 2025 to be up to the challenge. Upskilling and reskilling workforces has never been more critical, as the recent coronavirus pandemic has shown – regardless of the size or nature of the organisation, change is happening right now, and it will continue to happen.

But very often, LMS software is left to become out of date. It’s regularly the last system in a business to be updated, despite the development of new learning tools and innovative methodologies. To truly be successful in digital transformation, organisations must use this innovation and make upskilling happen for all their staff.

But for learners to fully take advantage of the advancing technology available, the LMS they use has to be seamlessly integrated and be able to support third-party solutions. If not, the organisation risks a patchwork of siloed solutions, which will do nothing to help learners.

Why should I consider an LMS?

If the above was not enough, you may also want to consider the following:

  • Better skills and outcomes across the workforce: Employees become empowered to continuously acquire skills, useful now and in future, meaning they’re agile enough to adapt to an ever-changing environment. This brings a range of positive outcomes; higher talent retention, more progression to leadership, more frequent certification, and better training uptake and completion.
  • Assured compliance: with an effective LMS, all stakeholders will benefit from specific capabilities such as workflow and e-signature, whether they’re employees, managers or HR professionals.
  • Improved implementation and increased ROI: innovations can be implemented quickly and flexibly with cloud-based LMS, meaning employees are more engaged and have better quality learning experiences.
  • Continuous learning culture: learning is an ongoing process, and a great LMS will help track both the reskilling and upskilling of staff.
  • Reduced costs: e-learning and virtual reality experiences help keep costs low, as the need for on-site classroom space reduces and employees learn flexibly.
  • Better learner engagement: smarter ways of learning are made possible through modern LMS, including curated learning paths, the use of games to learn new concepts, collaboration, and microlearning (smaller pieces of content like focussed tutorials to solve specific challenges).

The Main Elements of an LMS

The principal functions and features of any LMS are as follows:

  1. Engaged learners – when content is relevant to the learner and personalised to them, the learning experience is richer and more valuable. With LMS, learners can gain a 360-degree view of all their activities and progress, and they receive clear and targeted guidance to help complete their tasks. Communities of practice provide access to expert help and allow knowledge to be shared. And everything is done flexibly – with learning accessed on a mobile, at a desk or even downloaded for later use offline.
  2. Learning administration – Today’s LMS software means those who administrate the learning process have all the required information and tasks to hand to allow them to effectively plan and deliver learning to staff. Third party content may be integrated too as part of the learning process.
  3. Developed talent – if learning is included as part of the employee lifecycle it is more likely to be meaningful – giving staff clear career paths linked to developmental goals throughout their employee journey is a great way of doing this. Employees develop professionally from the moment they are onboarded in a new job, right through to their promotion to higher leadership roles.
  4. Assured compliance – automating compliance training is a win for everyone – the managers and HR professionals who have to track it, and the staff who have to complete it. Certification of documents, e-signatures and workflow policies are all made much easier by the visibility afforded by LMS software. It becomes a key part of an organisation’s development especially in highly regulated industries such as telecoms and healthcare – risk is minimised, standards are met and compliance is automated.

Best Practices for LMS

  1. Set out a path for staff: ensure staff have clear guidance taking them through their learning paths, development goals, recommendations and curated content.
  2. Ensure compliance: this minimises the organisation’s legal risk, particularly at times of disruption or when new tools are utilised, such as LinkedIn learning.
  3. Consolidate learning systems: aim to have just one learning management system, rather than a patchwork of different tools. Whatever your size or business type, there should be an LMS that’s right for you.
  4. Create new ways of learning: help to maximise learner engagement by implementing curated learning paths, social and remote learning capabilities, learning in the flow of work, or personal recommendations generated by machine learning.
  5. Embrace multi-modal learning: now more than ever, it’s important to embrace a wide array of learning types, including microlearning, mobile, e-learning and even gamification.

Things to look for in an LMS system

When looking for an LMS for your organisation, consider the following factors. They will ensure you get the best system for your employees – both now, and in the future.

  • Market-leading functionality and next-gen capabilities: during periods of transformation and change, only the best functionality and capabilities will fully support the learning needs of an organisation.
  • Ease of use: steer clear of tools which require extensive training to be used properly. You want positive experience and high engagement, which are usually achieved with systems which are easy and intuitive to use.
  • Flexible implementation: your solution should be capable of being configured and implemented to both current and future business requirements. Start with the part of the business with the greatest need, and gradually expand from there to help keep costs low.
  • A flexible, open platform: try to choose an open ecosystem which will enable your organisation to benefit from innovations and content from Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) providers.
  • Proven results: check which other companies have used that LMS before and what they say about it – look at your peers/competitors but also organisations in other industries.
  • Ease of integration with HR systems: Ensure your LMS can integrate with HRMS software suites so you can provide engaging, end-to-end employee experiences. There may come a time when you need to integrate LMS with other HR tools – for example, compensation, recruiting and onboarding, or performance and goals.