BlogLearning & Development

Learning Management System (LMS): Ultimate Guide

Emily Mason
Writer, Learning and Development
Learning & Development
January 15, 2024

A learning management system (LMS) is a digital platform that facilitates the delivery, tracking, and management of online training and educational courses.

Choosing an LMS

Employee training needs to adapt to the modern era, and learning management systems are the modern response to that challenge. If you want to deliver successful training to your teams, customers, or partners, it’s important to understand what an LMS is, what they do, and the benefits they can bring to your business. 

Our guide explains everything you need to know to make an informed decision about whether your business needs an LMS – plus a look inside how they work!

Although some LMS offerings are still hard-wired into on-site hardware, cloud-based LMS options are the most popular for the ease of remote access and instant updates & features. 

How popular are LMS platforms? According to CourseMethod's LMS industry statistics and trends:

  • 70% of learning and development (L&D) departments used an LMS for their training programs in 2020.
  • 48% of companies would like to find a new LMS. Approximately 43% would like better social tools and better means of collaborating. 

But that doesn’t mean the market is oversaturated! There’s ample opportunity for businesses to find the best possible fit for their needs. Lots are still looking for the right LMS.

Why do organizations need an LMS?

These key reasons double as some of the biggest benefits an LMS can bring to your business! Here are 7 to consider: 

1. Replace outdated methods/systems 

Corporate intranets consolidate and manage your important information, plus support internal communication. But besides that, they’re fairly limited. 

An LMS can replace your corporate intranet, and more! No gimmicks here – an LMS really is the modern answer to provide a single solution for sharing information, communication, and training. In addition to standard intranet features, an LMS offers mandatory training, collaborative learning, upskilling opportunities, and strategic integrations with your tech stack. 

Additionally, an LMS can either replace or reduce the need for in-person training, which can be costly and difficult to coordinate. An LMS supports blended learning, hosting digital content you can use to complement or enrich instructor-led training (ILT)

2. Provide a single source of knowledge

Because modern teams are spread across time zones and countries, it’s more important than ever to have consistent training for your entire organization.

  • Highly-regulated sectors like financial services and healthcare require up-to-date information – and the ability to reach your entire organization with any changes ASAP.
  • With an LMS, sales and customer service reps know exactly where to find important information – and get a quick refresher whenever they want. Boost sales team confidence + customer satisfaction. 
  • Improve coordination between departments like sales and marketing, and nip confusion in the bud by keeping a single updated version of important documentation in your LMS.

3. Convenient access to training resources

Say goodbye to excessive photocopying and training manuals when you go digital with an LMS. Your teams will love that they can log into one platform to complete all their training, instead of searching through old email attachments for documents. 

A cloud-based LMS also makes training available anytime, on any device. Learners in sectors like manufacturing might not have a dedicated workstation or large blocks of time for training. 58% of learners want to complete training at their own pace.

An LMS is the ideal solution as a platform where they can take a few minutes to complete an engaging module on their phone or tablet without having to block off an entire day for seminars in-person. 

4. Detailed training and performance tracking

Inadequate training and low learner engagement can lead to annual losses of approximately $550 billion! Oftentimes, the disconnect comes from insufficient tracking and reporting on core L&D metrics:

  • How many learners are completing training courses,
  • Where learners tend to drop off and not complete a course or module,
  • Where improvements can be made to materials or assessments (because of low pass rates or completion rates) and, 
  • Specific feedback on course quality, remaining unanswered questions, and frustrations with materials or the platform. 

The right LMS will make it simple for administrators to track all of these data points and gather feedback with ease. Real-time tracking and downloadable reports are great to prove training ROI or strategize improvements to help learners succeed. 

5. Ensure compliance

As we just mentioned, detailed tracking and reporting can help you to improve your training and prevent loss. Another important benefit is improved focus on compliance. In highly-regulated sectors, proving that learners have completed required training is very important. 

An LMS for compliance training can help avoid the costly process of updating and re-circulating materials.  Admins can easily draw up reports and use automated reminders to remind learners when they need to recertify or renew certain qualifications. 

6. Scale with ease 

With an LMS you can easily onboard entire groups of new users and scale up or down as your business changes. The bird’s eye view for administrators makes it easy to track groups as they move through your training sequences.

To scale up, you won’t need to print more booklets; you’ll just set up more accounts! An LMS also makes it simple to quickly develop, test, and deploy new training at lightning speed. You can easily adapt to offer training on new products, trends, or regulations your teams need to know. 

7. Cost savings

As we’ve mentioned several times already, the old ways of employee training just aren’t cut out for modern teams – they’re not only inadequate, they’re costing you valuable time and money. 

With upskilling and reskilling as top L&D priorities, more money is being spent on training than ever before. To justify the ROI of your LMS you need confidence that your training funds are being used well.

Most corporate LMSs work on a subscription basis with prices to match your exact needs. With detailed reporting features, you can be sure that your investment is paying off based on real results. 

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Who uses an LMS?

Anyone who needs to deliver training can use an LMS to do it effectively. Organizations in just about every sector use an LMS – because everyone needs training to learn and improve in their job! Businesses of all sizes can enjoy the benefits of an LMS

Product training 

In manufacturing, software, or healthcare sectors, an LMS is an ideal way to share knowledge about a new product with your entire business, or with specific groups of employees and even your customers (more on that later!). 

Small to medium businesses

For SMBs, an LMS offers big time savings. In-person training sessions generally take lots of time and resources to plan and execute – so in situations where e-learning can do just as well, it makes sense to choose a flexible, online platform. Plus, integrations with tools like Zoom and Google Meet ensure that the social side of learning is not lost. 

Time spent on administration can also be reduced with an LMS. For smaller organizations with a small L&D team or an L&D / HR hybrid, the automated reports and learning tracks of an LMS will save significant time. 

Large enterprises 

For organizations with a global presence and hundreds or thousands of learners, an LMS can scale with ease to support training initiatives and keep everyone on the same page. An LMS makes it simple to onboard entire groups of learners and effectively segment specific modules or learning tracks for learners in different regions or job roles. 

The purpose of an LMS

An LMS makes it simple to provide online learning initiatives, complete training objectives, and develop corporate training materials. Learning management systems are commonly used in business settings to help companies create, store, and organize training materials while supporting HR to automate new employee onboarding. 

That’s the bird’s eye view answer – but really an LMS is customizable and flexible. It can be used for many different training and learning situations, both inside and outside your organization. Let’s break it down: 

But what exactly does a learning management system do?

Internal vs external training 

Emerging technologies and the boom of SaaS businesses have made training a 360° necessity. It’s not only your internal employees who need training – extended enterprise learning has become a key part of L&D and Sales strategy.

Let’s break down the different – but equally important – use cases for an LMS:

Employee training

It’s the type of training that comes to mind when you hear ‘corporate training’. Organizations train their employees to be sure that everyone in the organization knows how to do their job well, and can grow in their skills the longer they’re with the company. 

An LMS is excellent for training employees. Using an LMS for employee training you can design learning tracks (we call them Journeys here at Continu!) for employees from their start date through their entire time at your company.

A modern learning platform helps you to provide customized required training sequences for unique roles, while also empowering learners to organically search for new modules to expand their skills. 

Customer training

Customer training is the process of equipping customers with important information they need to understand your products or services. Common examples include a product knowledge hub to answer FAQs, or courses you can take to become certified in working with AWS or Oracle Java. 

An LMS provides the central platform for client training materials. It allows for multimedia formats, interactive learning, and it’s simple to track learner progress and get reports in real time. You’ll get better insight into where your customers may be confused or drop off, as well as the training formats they prefer. 

Customer training software can boost satisfaction rates and help build customers for life who love your brand!

Continu readingThe 6 Best LMS for Customer Training

Partner & vendor training 

From resellers to consultants, your business partners often need training to get acquainted with your brand, processes, and products. To ensure that they’re well-informed champions and representatives, an LMS provides the easy-to-use platform for sharing resources. They can conveniently access training remotely and share feedback within the LMS. 

Admin vs Learner Experience 

Managers and C-suite leaders use an LMS to share training materials and to keep track of where each employee is with their progress. There are different levels of mandatory training, including:  

  • statutory training required by law (like HIPAA) 
  • required training that each organization sets for their teams (like an intro sequence on unique company policies) 

To support administrators, an LMS provides effective tools to create engaging training content, organize it into sequences, assign users, and then easily track their progress. The LMS does the background work so admins can focus on developing and sharing the best training materials possible. 

Learners log into your LMS and can easily see assigned modules and due dates. The LMS can be customized with courses, seminars, or content to explore for additional learning and upskilling. The social components of an LMS like leaderboards, badges, commenting, and sharing will help build connections between learners in different teams or regions. 

An LMS can support microlearning to keep your courses interesting and easy-to-digest. Learners will appreciate the variety of assessment methods as well, to show mastery of new topics. 

Plus, they can access their training on their phone or tablet while working from home, traveling, or have a few minutes to spare.

Look inside an LMS

Want to see the inside of a modern LMS? 

Continu is a tailored learning platform you can use to train and upskill your teams, empower your customers, and support partners. Continu was designed to be the single platform for all workplace learning, with features to build a learning culture inside and out. 

What does that look like practically? 

Here’s a sample learner experience in Continu: 

The Explore page offers customized suggestions for content, corporate communications, and informal learning to explore. 

The Explore page showcases your company's featured learning resources.

Required or more formal training for each learner is clearly laid out under Dashboard, and a calendar view helps them see deadlines at a glance.

The Dashboard allows learners to view their assigned content.

Continu supports a wide range of media formats so training stays engaging and sticks. The entire platform can be white labeled to match your branding. 

Wondering about the admin side of Continu? 

Creating training content in Continu is a breeze. 10 minutes is all it takes to make a basic, engaging module that will outpace any photocopied handout! With a few clicks and advanced filtering tools, you can assign learners to certain tracks based on their role, region, or length of time with the company. 

Continu offers detailed reporting and summaries of course completion, learner progress, and feedback. This makes it simple to measure the effectiveness of your content and see which learners may need additional support. 

Other powerful features of Continu include: 

  • Intuitive, easy-to-use interface 
  • Integrations with frequently-used tools like Zoom, Slack, MS Teams, Salesforce, and more. 
  • Automated learning tracks deliver the right materials based on individual learner needs 
  • Easily track assigned and completed courses
  • Target content by role or geographical location
  • Download, export, and share reports with ease
  • Scalable platform, accessible from anywhere on multiple devices

What’s Next? Support to Choose the Right LMS

Now that you’ve seen the possibilities to transform training with an LMS, you might be wondering how to choose the best one for your business, or how to lead a successful implementation after choosing one. 

Or, if you’re planning your next LMS implementation, check our how-to list of steps so you’re set up for success. 

Effective training will have a wide ripple effect over your entire organization. Employees will be more satisfied and engaged, customers will be more passionate about your brand, and your bottom line will likely increase too. Ready to get started? An LMS is the way to go!

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About the Author
Emily Mason is the Content Writer at Continu.
Emily Mason
Writer, Learning and Development

Emily is a copywriter and content marketer specializing in Learning and Development. Emily is currently based in West Michigan. She loves words, coffee, and walking by the lake.

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