Discover steps to effectively implement or replace an LMS, ensuring a smooth rollout. Dive into planning, migration, training, and achieving user adoption.
Chances are you fell into an LMS because you knew your company needed one. But you may not have known what features you really needed nor a plan that was able to grow with your organization.
If you’re thinking of replacing your LMS, where do you begin? How much time will it take? What will it cost? And now that you know you need a new one, how do you ensure you won’t have to go through this process again?
The 11-step process to replace an existing LMS or implement a new LMS.
1. Choose the right LMS
You should have a clear list of needs, some desired features, and a budget. This data is the information you need to begin seeking out the right learning management system.
Be very clear about your expectations when you work with sales representatives. While they want to make a sale, most understand that their profitability hinges on your long-term satisfaction. Selling you a product that meets your needs is going to work out best for everybody in the long run.
2. Connect with Stakeholders and Executives
The key to good organizational adoption of your new LMS system is to obtain buy-in from executives and stakeholders. These team members aren’t just key to obtaining the funding and approvals you need for your LMS rollout plan to work — they also influence employee attitudes and enthusiasm towards the new product.
Company leadership will also be more willing to use their power to help you remove any roadblock if they are supportive of your efforts.
Remember that executive leadership will most likely be in charge of setting your LMS project budget. Make the potential return on investment very clear in order to ensure that your implementation has the funding it needs.
3. Assign an LMS implementation team
The implementation team will be in charge of managing the installation process, working with the software provider, developing a project plan, and setting deadlines.
Who Should Be on the Implementation Team?
The core implementation team should consist of a project leader, at least one team member who understands the training needs of the organization, someone with deep knowledge of eLearning and LMS systems, and a representative of the user community.
You may also wish to put together an extended team. These are the people who will take on many of the ancillary tasks that will take place during LMS implementation and after the LMS launch. This work includes:
- Collecting and analyzing user feedback
- Providing post-installation user support
By involving the right people from the start, you help to ensure a smoother LMS implementation process.
4. Create a data migration plan with IT
This step applies if you are going to replace an LMS system and need to move data from the legacy system to the new one. You may need to involve your IT department in this step, especially if you use proprietary or disparate systems to deliver training and store data.
If you are currently working with a commercial LMS package, the new software provider will ideally have the processes and expertise in place to ensure a smooth migration. Don’t forget to work with the new provider if you are concerned about compatibility issues with other HR or CRM software.
5. Set learning objectives and goals
In many ways, LMS implementation is like adopting any other organizational software package. You have to figure out what you want to accomplish before you can make any other decisions, let alone create an LMS rollout plan.
Here are some of the learning objectives and goals you might consider:
- Implement a blend of third-party and company-developed training programs
- Create a knowledge base that encourages employee-generated content
- Integrate social learning
- Allow training teams to use both in-person and remote delivery methods
- Adopt microlearning and on-demand learning
- Improve the ability to deliver assessments
If you plan to replace an LMS, you should know exactly why it isn’t working for your company. This knowledge will help you better understand which LMS features to look for in a new LMS system. For example, your team might request a more intuitive administrator dashboard.
Finally, take into consideration any other factors that might impact your final decision. For example, your business might have to follow certain regulations that relate to the types of training you are obligated to deliver. It’s important to select a learning management system that will allow you to stay within the realm of regulatory compliance.
6. Prepare high-quality learning content
Before you can engage in your initial test run, you’ll need to have quality learning content available. You’ll also have to have plans for delivery and assessment and must set up the necessary accounts for students and trainers.
Ultimately, you may choose to have training content converted from your old system or to use third-party training programs. However, a new LMS implementation offers you the opportunity to develop training materials in a way that makes use of the best features of the new system.
7. Build automated workflows
Learning workflows allow you to create personalized training pathways for team members and individuals.
These workflows automatically make the right training content available to users or groups of users based on the parameters that you have set. For example, you could create a workflow for safety and compliance training for your logistics staff.
After the LMS launch has been completed, employees can work with their supervisors to create individual learning workflows. These can be used to provide them with self-directed training content that they can progress through to meet their professional development goals.
8. Integrate the learning platform with other tools
Does your team use tools like Slack to facilitate communication as part of the training class? What about other learning platforms and providers like Udemy or Vimeo?
Many workplaces also use various video providers, presentation software, or sales tools in their training. These tools will all need to be integrated with your new learning management system.
9. Work with the LMS Customer Success team
A customer success team works with your company to provide support and advocacy after you have made your purchase. Their job is to ensure that you get the best use out of their product. They do this through a combination of:
- Training and onboarding
- Collecting feedback
- Providing curated support and escalating it when necessary
- Offering information on upgrades and new features
- Helping you create an LMS strategy to achieve your organizational goals
This team is an exceptionally valuable resource. It’s worth taking advantage of their service if such a team is offered by your LMS provider.
10. Execute an initial test with learning content
At this point, you should be ready to bring on your extended implementation team and other employees to execute a test of your learning platform. This test doesn’t need to be a lengthy or complicated scenario.
However, it should be a real representation of the content you will provide and the training delivery methods your company will use. It should include real-world employee assessments.
Once you are done with training, you can collect feedback from users. This feedback can be used to determine any changes you should make to the implementation before going live.
11. LMS rollout and launch
The final step is to roll out the new learning management system and make it available company-wide. This rollout will be an all-hands-on-deck operation, and you will want to ensure that you have adequate support available. Make sure to inform all stakeholders, support team members, IT staff, and your LMS account manager of the time and date of deployment.
Your LMS launch plan should include a longer-term strategy to offer support and training. There is going to be a knowledge gap that must be filled as people learn to use the new system.
If they have adequate assistance early on, users will be able to enjoy the most attractive features available to them. This enjoyment will increase adoption and will improve product sentiment.
Reasons for an LMS switch
First of all, know that you are not alone. According to Brandon Hall Group’s most recent Learning Technology Trends Survey, 44% of companies with LMS’s are looking for a replacement within the next two years. Why this need for a new system? Eighty-seven percent said they needed a better user experience.
Other reasons to replace an LMS include:
- Scalability: Every company starts off small and the goal is to keep growing year after year. If you started out as a small company, you may have invested in an LMS to match. The issue is, a few years later, you’ve grown significantly and as a result, outgrown your LMS partner. Choose an LMS that can scale with you.
- Outdated product: Your current LMS may not be “keeping up with the times". You want to look for a learning platform that will continually evolve their product offerings. There are always industry advancements and you want to make sure you get the most for your money.
- Bad partnership: You are paying for an LMS that is supposed to work for you. For this reason, you need a company that understands your needs and can tailor an LMS to fit your culture. You also need to be able to communicate new needs and technical questions to this vendor. This should not feel like a one-sided relationship.
- Cost: Budget is always going to be a factor in selecting an LMS. But you’ve heard the phrase, “you get what you pay for". Going with the cheapest option is not always the best solution. While it may work in the beginning, you may find you are missing key features, access to help, and paying for upgrades you didn’t know you needed. This is especially true as you grow.
How long will this LMS replacement take?
The short answer is it can vary depending on your LMS vendor, how much data you need to migrate, and how complex your platform is. The good news is, you can cut down on the time it takes with a few simple steps:
- Choose a provider who will do it for you: You want a vendor who will make your LMS replacement seem effortless. This company should be willing to migrate your course and user data quickly. And ask each LMS vendor the time they think it will take to make this LMS switch.
- Have an in-house team in place: Make sure every employee knows their role in the migration process and you have a point person communicating constantly with the new LMS vendor. Communication will cut down on the amount of time.
- Data in the same format: It’s easier to navigate this LMS replacement if you use a format like CSV in your current data and migrate in the same format. This way you will cut down on lost or distorted data.
- Test: You’ll also want to have a small panel of employees test the new system once you have made the LMS switch. Uncovering bugs at this stage is easier and less time-consuming than once the program is rolled out companywide.
With all this planning involved, even with the best LMS vendors out there, you will need to plan time to rebuild some functions. For example, some physical files may be lost in this migration, or certain files missing data. Sitting down with your in-house team and preparing as much as possible for these possible setbacks ahead of your LMS switch will cut down on the time it takes.
An LMS that's easy to implement
Looking for a new learning platform and replace your old clunky one? Continu offers users and admins a seamless experience from implementation to strategy helping teams upskill faster. Our software empowers you to offer customer service training, compliance training, employee training, and much more to your team. You can do all of this with features like Smart Segmentation™, video coaching, online assessments, knowledge base management, and remote training.
Recently, companies like Upwork have found new benefits for a robust learning platform like Continu. Now that so many companies have gone fully or partially remote, learning management systems have made it easier to provide training to employees no matter where they are.