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LMS Buying Guide: 10 Things You Need in an LMS

Continu Team
One Platform for All Learning

Navigate the LMS market with confidence using this comprehensive buying guide, highlighting the top 10 essential features for a robust learning platform.

Choosing an LMS

Selecting the right Learning Management System for your company might sound like a daunting task. With over 700 LMS platforms on the market, it can be challenging to figure out where to start first. But what are the most crucial elements an LMS should contain that make it a worthwhile investment for your company?

The processing of buying an LMS requires a lot of research and requirements from multiple departments, but can be simplified by breaking it down into some must-have items.

Here's the list of the 10 most important things your learning management system should have:

1. An intuitive user experience

A recent study from Bersin by Deloitte indicates that 61% of Corporate Learning Platforms are difficult to use. Selecting a platform that delivers an intuitive end user experience is incredibly important to help drive learner engagement and retention.

It’s important to select a platform that is not only simple to navigate but pleasant to use.

2. Social learning capabilities

If you’re looking for a platform that will allow your employees to have maximum collaboration, it’s important to pay close attention to social learning capabilities. Items such as commenting, liking or sharing can go a long way to help enable greater collaboration among your users.

3. Powerful content authoring

Content authoring enables administrators to develop customized training for employees. Many Learning Systems will not allow for content creation, so it’s important to pay close attention and ensure the platform enables content creation and what content types are supported.

Popular content types include video uploads, file handling, and article creation. More advanced systems might allow for course creation and quizzing functionality.

Read more: 5 Best eLearning Authoring Tools

4. A blended learning environment

Depending on the types of content and materials you have available or are looking at creating, you might look for a platform that offers blended learning functionality. Blended learning enables the learner to take part in their curriculum online and part through facilitator-led or in-person training.

Read more: Top 10 Blended Learning Tools for Effective Training

5. Insightful reporting and analytics

Finding a platform that offers detailed reporting and tracking features is vital to measuring the impact of your learning materials and courses. Look for a system that enables you to track reporting on an individual and group level, as well as keep track of assignment completions and other critical data.

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6. Deep integrations with popular tools

Chances are you’re already using a number of systems internally. This might include an HRIS system, a Single Sign On service or Communication tools such as Slack. It’s important to check with your IT team to ensure that the platform you’re looking at provides the LMS integrations you currently have in place to avoid any hassles during implementation.

Check out: Continu's suite of integrations

7. Personalized learning paths

If you plan on building your own content, it’s important to check if the LMS has advanced content authoring features to allow for Learning Tracks or Pathways to be developed. Learning Tracks are a sequential way to train or onboard employees and can be beneficial for a wide range of use cases.

8. Assessment and quiz creation

Testing knowledge is a great way to check if learning materials are contributing to the correct outcomes. Quizzes are also great for compliance and mandatory training materials to ensure a level of completion has been achieved.

9. Workflow automation

If you’re responsible for training a large group of users, it might be worthwhile determining if you would like a platform that has LMS automation features to allow you to auto-assign or share content to employees based on their geography or role.

10. Learning on-the-go

As the workplace becomes more mobile, finding a system that supports mobile learning is critical to allow for long-term growth and usability. Look for platforms with either native applications or responsive interfaces to allow for mobile consumption. It’s also important to ensure your content is compatible with mobile playback.

Mistakes to avoid when shopping for an LMS

When you’re looking for an online learning platform, it’s easy to get excited and suddenly find yourself in a rabbit hole of really clickable ads. Initial research may help you get an idea of what’s out there, but it’s important to plan out exactly what you need and expect from a learning platform before you get serious about acquiring one.

Here are five mistakes to avoid when you're trying to buy an LMS:

1. Not knowing how an LMS can help your organization

One of the most common mistakes among learning platform buyers is blindly forging through the process without a real idea of what they want or need out of their solution. When it comes to selecting a learning system, research and preparation will pay off in spades down the line.

Answering these questions can help you prepare better for your LMS purchase:

  • Approach: How do you want to approach learning? What do you need your solution to do? Do you need it for a specific purpose? If you’re not sure, performing a needs analysis could help clarify things.
  • Analytics: What kind of reporting and analytics will you be expecting? What are you trying to measure?
  • Users: How many people will you need to train? Make sure your LMS has experience working and succeeding in your market
  • Budget: What’s your budget for this project? To avoid coming to the table with an unreasonable or inaccurate budget, find out how much your organization is looking to invest in learning.
  • Integrations: do you want to connect your learning platform to tools like messaging, calendar, video chat, or HRM software? Consider the integrations you’re interested in ahead of time. That way you’ll be best informed to ask prospects questions. 

Getting clear on what you want and need from your learning platform ahead of time will simplify the buying process. It will help things begin to take shape on your end and make it easier to find the online learning platform that best suits your needs.

You’ll also need all of this information when you submit an LMS request for proposal (RFP) later on. 

2. Too many LMS options to choose from

There are hundreds of online learning platforms in the marketplace. While there may be a lot of solutions with similar features, a targeted approach will help you narrow down the options without getting overwhelmed.

Since a lot of platforms have decent and even extensive functionality, try to find something that supports the specific learning goals of your organization.

Searching for a learning solution is one thing. Finding and implementing a platform that amplifies your team’s learning, autonomy, and morale is quite another. Keep your journey as simple as possible by narrowing your options down to 5 and booking demos for your top 

3. Lack of an LMS Customer Success team

A learning platform can help you implement and amplify a culture of learning in your organization. Finding the right one means you’re not just looking for another tool.

In fact, most organizations are looking for partnerships. These partnerships form between members of your organization and your platform’s Success or Support teams. These relationships can be crucial to the success of your learning platform’s implementation.

Depending on your level of familiarity with the support process, you may not know how much support you’ll really need. This is where you can rely on the expertise of your potential partners. Different learning solutions provide different levels of support, so it’s important to find one that shares your vision and meets your needs.

4. Shopping for an LMS by yourself

Since finding and acquiring a learning platform can be a complex process, a common mistake L&D professionals make is trying to go it alone.

Loop in a member of each department that will need to be involved in the process early on. For instance, you may need to talk to HR about using the platform for employee onboarding or accounting for a realistic budget.

To determine what kind of integrations you’ll need, you may want to get someone from IT involved. Since you’ll eventually need all of these people on board at some point, take the opportunity to make the project a team effort from the outset.

5. Underestimating the scope of work

A lot of people assume that once they’ve selected and purchased their learning platform, the work is over. But that’s when the fun really starts. Implementing your new learning solution as the backbone of your enterprise learning strategy lays a foundation your organization can build, lean on, and scale. 

Make sure to take the implementation process into account when you’re integrating a new platform, as it can take months to bring to fruition. Divided among a team and with all parts working together, rolling out your learning software can be a fulfilling first step towards amplifying your organization’s learning. 

Continu makes the LMS buying process easy

Shopping for a learning platform can be fun, but it’s not necessarily easy. It takes time to really understand what you need and how that matches up with what providers can offer. From powerful authoring to advanced reporting and versatile functionality, there are a million ways to customize your solution so it adds value to the people you’re trying to support.

See this process as the opportunity it is to revolutionize the way your organization learns and views learning as a whole. The right learning platform is out there, it’s just a matter of laying the groundwork to find it.

Luckily Continu comes with everything mentioned above and more! Pick the leading LMS for enterprise organizations and start delivering meaningful learning to employees.

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About the Author
Continu Team responsible for Continu's content.
Continu Team
One Platform for All Learning

Continu is the #1 modern learning platform built to help companies scale and consolidate learning. From training customers to employees, Continu is the only platform you need for all learning.

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