In early 2022, Statista released their Workplace Learning and Development (L&D) survey results. In the study, they found that the global L&D market size was estimated at $357 Billion with nearly half that spent in North America at $165 Billion. And increasingly, companies are relying on technology to assist with L&D with 70% of companies in the study reporting they used a Learning Management System. But what exactly is a learning management system?
A Learning Management System (LMS) is software that is designed for the creation, storage, deployment, tracking, reporting and automation of learning and development programs within an organization. Whether you are training new employees or upskilling current employees, an LMS helps facilitate a company’s learning strategy.
3 Key Benefits of Learning Management Systems
Learning management software can help companies save both time and money. As a central hub for learning and development, LMS platforms allow training material to be created once and then disseminated throughout the organization and used by different employees. The online training can take place when it’s convenient for each employee and eliminates any travel-related expenses that traditional in-person training may require.
Learning management systems also help increase performance and productivity within an organization. When employees partake in regular training, their skills and knowledge increase. When standardized process are taught through the learning management system, each employee will know how a particular task should be completed. This can reduce the amount of time spent on each task which leads to more production in other areas.
LMS software also helps track learning performance so you can identify areas that need improvement. If a training is consistently being failed by employees, it may be an indication that the training isn’t as helpful as intended. It might be time to update the training or change it all together. An LMS also allows HR and other stakeholders the ability to see things like who has started a training, how far along they are, what percentage of people have passed or failed, and who is behind on mandatory training.
There are basically two key types of learning management systems: either a locally hosted LMS or a cloud-based LMS.
- Locally hosted LMS is software that is hosted and maintained by your internal IT department. There is typically a high setup fee and a set license duration for this type of LMS. Providers offer only limited support for this type of software. If you have a dedicated team that can handle the security and operation of the software, this is a great choice as a locally hosted LMS typically has a lower continual cost and generally greater customization ability.
- Cloud-based LMS is software hosted by a vendor via the web. You typically won’t need any heavy IT infrastructure to utilize this type of LMS. There is usually a monthly fee based on the number of users and features you choose. The vendor will handle most of the service, maintenance and security of the LMS.
Types of Employee Training You Can Conduct via an LMS
There are endless ways you can use an LMS to implement your learning and development plan in your business. Many companies use a learning management system for the following types of training:
- Technical Skills
- Soft Skills
- Customer Support
- Managerial & Leadership
See our article on How to Reduce Employee Turnover with Good Onboarding
Common Features of a Learning Management System
Here are some of the common features that a solid learning management system will have and that you should look for when evaluating LMS providers.
- Content Management. The ability to upload, manage and deliver the learning materials to employees.
- User Management. The ability to add and edit users and to organize each user in different groups such as department or job role.
- Progress Tracking. The ability to show the learning performance of individual employees and provide readily available reports.
- Event Calendar. The ability to set due dates and rearrange training based on employee availability.
- Accessibility. The ability to be easily used anywhere at any time including on a mobile device, desktop or laptop.
- Assessments. The ability to have employees take quizzes and other evaluations to prove competency of learning material.
- Feedback Surveys. The ability to collect information pertaining to employee satisfaction with the training.
Things to Consider When Investing in a Learning Management System
When you are getting ready to research which LMS is right for your business, it’s important to consider a few things first.
What are the demographics of your employees?
Typically, older workers won’t value collaboration tools and younger employees will want gamification or social features built into their learning experience. Where are your employees on their learning path? Do you have people just starting out in their career, people you need to progress to management, or people learning technology for the first time?
What infrastructure do you currently have in place to support the LMS?
Do you have a dedicated IT or L&D team that can handle day-to-day support for the product? Whether that’s uploading content, dealing with security or other user issues, an LMS requires attention from either an internal team at your company or via the vendor. If you have limited staff capacity, you may want to consider a web-based application.
What current technology do you use that the LMS should integrate with?
Every business is different when it comes to the types of technology they use within their business. A good LMS should be able to seamlessly integrate into what you are currently using so that you can share data across your technology ecosystem. If you find an LMS that you like that doesn't easily integrate into your other software, you will need to develop integrations either in-house or hire a third-party.
What type of reports are available from the LMS?
Many LMS platforms offer standard reporting and in some you can create customized reports. Some charge extra for ad hoc reports and customization while others don’t. What sort of reporting do you want your LMS to produce? Can you easily customize reports to easily pull data? Can you easily share the reports with stakeholders?
Is this your first LMS for the company or are you migrating previous data?
If this is your first LMS you may want to consider a scalable solution. Something that can grow as you increase the number of users and as your business grows. If you are moving from another learning platform, can the data be easily integrated over from the system? What is the time commitment and process for doing so? What about information that isn’t easily transferred? Is there a game plan to address that?
Want to Learn More About Learning Management Systems?
To learn more about Learning Management Systems and other HR technologies, plan on attending one of HR Technology Conference’s two unique HR Tech events that are hosted each year.