Although swanky Learning Management System (LMS) features like LinkedIn certification sharing and gamification can make an LMS more engaging for end-users, they usually aren’t “make-it-or-break-it” features for most organizations when it comes to making a final decision on an LMS provider. However, with so many LMS features on the table and so many LMS solution providers to choose from it can be challenging for even the savviest LMS buyers to nail down which features are actually essential to realizing their desired training outcomes. Recently featured in Education Technology Insights as one of the Top 10 Learning Management System Solution Providers - 2018, CEO and Founder of Knowledge Anywhere, Charlie Gillette, talks about the importance of an LMS platform that allows organizations to translate knowledge into action. According to Gillette, there are five “must-have” attributes of an LMS solution provider that buyers definitely shouldn’t overlook:

1. Initial and Ongoing Cost Effectiveness

Learning Management Systems have the greatest impact on the overall cost of training according to a recent LMS Industry User Research Report by Capterra, and with LMS buyers spending 59% more than they initially expect on their LMS, purchasing an affordable LMS is of the utmost importance. An important thing for LMS buyers to keep in mind is that the initial sticker price they see may not be the price they wind up paying long term, and with many solution providers offering vague pricing models it can be challenging for buyers to compare the initial cost to ongoing costs to maintain and update the system. To mitigate the pricing challenge we recommend for buyers to inquire carefully about the costs of maintaining the system in addition to the initial set-up cost and to search for a system that is affordably scalable as the organization grows and matures. Upfront pricing transparency is usually a good sign that a solution provider will be able to offer a buyer a reasonably affordable LMS.

2. Built-in IT Support

Support is something that is often overlooked in the initial buying decision though it is a frequent reason people switch their LMS. In fact, we get an inquiry a day from organizations looking to change their LMS. More times than not, it’s because the buyer’s existing LMS provider does not deliver quality IT support, causing the burden to fall on the organization’s IT team. To avoid this, ask LMS solution providers what their definition of support is and if they have different tiers. At the most basic level, LMS solution providers should include unlimited e-mail support as part of the initial and ongoing cost associated with the LMS.

3. An Integration-friendly LMS

An LMS shouldn’t be an island that operates apart from the mainland of business software programs like Salesforce, TribeHR, or an organization’s HRIS system. Instead, a high-quality LMS should allow organizations to integrate with the software they use every day so that they can provide education support for recruiting and training their talent base.

4. A Cloud-based LMS

Though this one might seem like a given, there are still many solution providers who offer an installed LMS solution. Opposed to an installed solution, a cloud-based LMS affords an organization the ability to provide seamless user access at any time and from any location, the flexibility to accommodate more users through an increased subscription model and the ability to easily opt out if the solution is not meeting the organization’s needs.

5. Solution Provider Stability

The LMS industry is highly fragmented, with hundreds of existing solution providers and new providers popping up regularly, making it hard for LMS buyers to distinguish who is legitimate and who isn’t. Longevity is an important factor to consider when selecting a solution provider, as well as social proof in the form of usage statistics and a reliable client roster. Our advice: Take the time to read through the “About” section on a solution provider’s website and read through a few client testimonials. Though there are many desirable attributes/features LMS buyers want to cross off on their checklist before purchasing an LMS; it is important for buyers to prioritize features to get the best results. Of all the features out there, we feel as though the previous five mentioned should be at the top of the list, and hope that this article has provided some helpful insight for buyers as they enter the LMS buying process.

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