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This article will help you decide whether or not a Learning Management System will be appropriate for the needs of your business.

eLeapWhen the e-learning systems were recently being introduced and implemented, they were far more costly and also posed several hurdles for many users, as they first had to acquaint themselves with the new technology. However, with the onset of technology and its rapid spread to all areas of life, not only have people become a lot more familiar with technology and its advancements, but the hardware and software has also drastically decreased in price. Both these factors make it a lot more convenient for peopleto adopt a learning management system for their organization and benefit from its advantages, which now outweigh the costs. However,every learning management system may not be suitable for you, and so, it is vital to select an appropriate e-learning system,in order for it to benefit your organization. Deciding whether a custom made learning management system will work out better as compared to a commercially available option will depend largely on the needs and requirements of the end user. In order to clearly understand what the organization demands from the learning management system, some basic steps can be taken such as:

  1. Analyzing Your Current Situation

First start off with the system you already have in place. The costs and benefits of the current system will be a good pointer to see what sort of things you are looking for in the new system. Asking the system administrators about what sort of problems they are facing, as well as which aspects of the system are good and are working smoothly, is important. Other than administrators,the view of the users and learners of the system is also important. In order to understand how their user experience with the system has been. The IT department should also be consulted, in order to find out how the system is operating and to understand problem areas, which would include both technical and financial issues. For organizations that do not have a formal learning management system in place, it would be important to understand how learning is being handled in the organization currently, so as to look for an e-learning option that can accommodate the current style of operation, while also improving the user experience.

  1. Identifying Key Requirements

After having analyzed your current situation, you may have come up with a list of problems that are being faced by the current system, as well as the things that are good about the system and are working out fine. At this point, it is important to ask the organizations’ members what they further require out of the learning management system. Generally, requirements can be analyzed under three categories, which would be technical, functional and financial. There are costs and benefits to each category, and understanding how your added requirements from the new system are placed in these three categories, will help you to see more clearly what you are looking for.

  1. Evaluating Product Options

Once you have the needs and requirements of the various stakeholders in the organization sorted out, you can start to critically evaluate the products available to you. Setting custom made systems aside, there are a countless number of commercially made options available, and to go through what their package offers can be very time consuming. Therefore, a good idea is to shortlist ten or twelve high value requirements, which are of critical importance to you and the organization, and then to start looking for systems that cater to this short list of demands. In a way, this list of critical requirements can be seen as your vetting requirements.  With these demands in hand, you can more easily research for products either online or directly contact vendors to find out how their products measure up. Once you have a list of approximately ten to twelve learning management systems that measure up to your vetting requirements, you can then go on to further investigate their details and see how well they cater to the other larger list of requirements.

  1. Product Evaluation

At this stage, with a list of products that are meeting your vetting requirements, you can begin to further evaluate the products. The product evaluation for a learning management system has six processes.

There is a request for information that you can first send to the vendors. The RFI includes a list of all your requirements and questions about each requirement, regarding how the vendor will address these demands. It would also be useful to first ask whether the vendors are willing to respond to your RFI or not.

Next you can utilize use case demonstrations; this would involve inviting the vendors to your organization and asking them to demonstrate their product. In the use case, the vendor would be able to see how a typical user would use the system that is already installed, and then show you how their system would be different. Having a set of use cases both for simple tasks and complex ones, and using the same use case scenarios with each vendor, will be a good way to compare the various service providers.

As you move on, you can request vendors for a trial version of the software or access to a sandbox. This will give you hands on experience of what they offer and will help you in deciding which option you would like to go for.

You can also ask the vendor to provide you with some customer references. By asking existing customers you can learn not only about the system and how the user experience has been for people already using it, but you can also find out how the customers experience has been with the organization in matters such as troubleshooting and assistance.

Lastly, you can also look for market information on the company or the product. There are several market research companies and industry analysts that are constantly researching and testing products available in the market and also analyze the performance of the companies.

With these guidelines in mind, selecting a new learning management system for your organization should be much easier, and should also provide you with some structure for your search of a suitable option.

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