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The Learning Management System (LMS) is a software application/platform for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting and delivery of training courses. When properly set up and used, the system controls every part of learning course. It’s a huge help in ensuring that learners focus on what they need to (learning) without the tech getting in the way.
Setting up the LMS: Learning Made Simple!
Opting for a ‘big bang’ strategy, where the rollout involves the entire staff from a given date, can be very beneficial in a highly centralized organization whose local HR teams are used to supporting staff and passing on the benefits of any new systems that are put in place.
To set up a virtuous circle where word of mouth has a positive effect and where staff members can play a prescriptive role, keep the following points in mind:
✓ Involve learners in choosing the platform and give priority to the learning experience.
✓ Choose learner‐oriented performance indicators (see Chapter 4).
✓ Offer a sufficiently broad range of content and courses and connect them to corporate needs.
✓ Market your training suite, focusing on benefits rather than methods.
✓ Train and support local HR staff and managers, or use ‘champions’, by which we mean people from the organization who are already familiar with the digital learning environment.
✓ Make life easy for learners, don’t underestimate obstacles, and do everything you can to facilitate the learner experience, such as with a single platform, single‐click access, and so on.
Many people often choose an LMS on the strength of its range of functionalities, its system compatibility, or its ability to automate or at least facilitate administrative aspects of training. These criteria are clearly far from unimportant, but never let them take priority over the learning experience, which needs to be enjoyable, smooth, and motivating if you don’t want to see logins and course‐completion rates spiraling downwards just a few months after the launch.
As for all software solutions, getting all your stakeholders onboard is essential to the success of an LMS platform. By ‘stakeholders’ we mean not only training managers, HR managers, IT managers, and so on, but also other staff members whose involvement is valuable; having input from people who can assess the learning experience offered by different solutions is always good.
Performance indicators are vital because they allow you to assess regularly the rollout strategy for an LMS platform, the quality of what’s being offered to learners, course performance, and so on. Indicators are the only way of getting the information you need to define ways of improving the use and efficiency of an LMS platform.
When you make the learner experience one of your major selection criteria and when you place the learner at the center of your rollout strategy, obviously your indicators allow you to assess the efficiency of your platform from the same angle. Ideally, your platform allows you to produce these indicators and monitor them with ease.
Ensuring Success with Your LMS
In this section we provide three great ideas for giving your LMS the best chance of success.
Maximizing your platform
Speed is everything in today’s fast‐moving, digital world.
Amazon.com, the world‐renowned e‐commerce website, observed that an increase in page‐loading speed of one tenth of a second leads to a 1 per cent increase in revenue. Yahoo saw a 9 per cent increase in traffic for every four tenths of a second gained.
Training portal, video, and content loading speeds naturally have an impact on the quality of the learning experience. Therefore, any infrastructure that your LMS relies on must be fast and efficient, wherever the user happens to be in the world. Cloud‐based training content and automatic media optimization according to user bandwidth are absolute essential.
The IT infrastructure isn’t the only key to delivering a smooth learning experience. Here are a few other aspects to bear in mind as you move forward with your LMS project:
✓ Number of clicks: With each extra click that a learner has to make to get to the learning content, you risk losing a percentage of your traffic. If most of the training you offer is accessible in more than three clicks, you probably need to make some improvements. Ask yourself honestly whether each step is indispensable to the learner.
✓ Logins: If you think that logins don’t pose a problem for people signing up for training, think again! Fifty per cent of learners give up on the log‐in page, even when it has a password link. To avoid this problem, consider setting up an SSO (single sign‐on) system. Also think about the mobility of your users after the system has been set up: if your SSO only works in‐house, you forfeit all the time the learner could spend training at home, while commuting, sitting in waiting rooms, and so on.
✓ Training duration: An e‐learning course lasts 10 to 30 minutes on average. So that learners can complete it within a reasonable timeframe, they need to be able to set aside the necessary time at work or at home.
N.B.! Open‐space offices aren’t well suited to training (because of interactions with colleagues, phone calls, distractions, and so on). The ideal solution is to have dedicated rooms with headphones and microphones – and perhaps specific time slots for e‐learning! Teleworking can also allow learners to train at home, provided the LMS is accessible in SaaS mode (Software as a Service).
Adopting a marketing approach
The marketing mix is another concept inherited from the world of retailing and refers to a coherent set of actions relating to the ‘4 Ps’:
✓ Product: We cover this aspect in the earlier ‘Setting up the LMS: Learning Made Simple!’ section.
✓ Price: Not really applicable as such in this context.
✓ Place: Distribution channel of the LMS itself, plus other corporate channels.
✓ Promotion: Needs to support the implementation of the LMS rollout.
As for the launch of a new product or service, launching an LMS platform entails having in‐depth knowledge of your target audience and organizing an effective communication plan initiative to convince people of how useful the platform is going to be.
The key to success is to think of your learners as customers to whom you need to ‘sell’ your solution, and to construct a real promotional plan to launch your ‘product’.
You apply this approach in two main stages:
- Look at your learners’ habitual behavior. To boost learner engagement and offer learners the best possible experience, nothing beats analyzing their behavior by asking the right questions. Who are they? Why do they train? When do they have time to take part in e‐learning programs? Are they motivated? What kinds of tools are likely to spark their interest? Do they use social networks in the office? Do they use public or professional social networks? Would they be interested in a mobile version of the LMS? These questions allow you to define the typical profile of your learners, and to introduce your program in a way that reflects their daily lives, adapting the functionalities of the LMS platform to the way they work.
- Launch a communication campaign initiative focusing on the project. If you want to get everyone onboard quickly, define a marketing budget and set up a promotional strategy that targets everyone concerned. Teasers, posters, newsletters, and even mini‐movies are effective ways of communicating information about your project internally. Think about the communication strategy as a real in‐house promotional campaign designed to make the launch into an ‘event’ and to convince future users of how everyone is going to benefit from what the new platform has to offer.
A communication campaign like this one needs local ‘ambassadors’ to be successful.
You have to give local HR departments the means to support staff members through the platform launch, but you also have to give them a precise goal. This is a real ‘change support’ approach that should allow HR and L&D (Learning and Development) teams to become gradually more independent while remaining efficient and in line with corporate decisions. So if you begin by launching a relatively rich ‘pull’‐type training suite, they can then focus on promoting what’s on offer; you can always train them how to use the platform in more depth later, when they’ve had time to get used to working with it.
Getting managers onboard is equally important, as is motivating them to support the project and to facilitate adoption by all staff members.
To involve managers, set up a dedicated area where they can find exclusive training content. You can also train them to support and develop staff skills. And you can give them access to a dashboard so that they can monitor progress among their team members and provide them with the encouragement and coaching they need.
Aligning with learners’ daily life
Try to reach out to learners where they are and where they work. Training teams spend a lot of time and energy bringing staff members to a training portal, which then turns out to be just one more tool or web service they occasionally visit. But today you can integrate LMS platforms with Intranets (for example, Sharepoint) and corporate social networks (for example, Yammer or Jive), so that training comes to learners – rather than the other way round – and forms part of their day‐to‐day lives.
The idea is to make sure that learners concentrate on learning instead of on solving technical issues that may stand between them and the development of their skills.
Make the most of the support provided by your LMS platform provider and its teams, who have detailed and extensive experience of project deployment. They can also offer training, services and expertise such as that offered by the CrossKnowledge Academy, which helps your own teams to make the project a success.