Owning a small business is not easy. The business is trying to grown with minimal resources and every decision to move forward in one direction might close a door for another direction.
A learning management system can be a great decision that allows your company to streamline training and catapult growth. Or, if it is not used properly, or the cost of resources isn’t properly planned out, it could hurt your business.
This article is an great resource to help you be informed about finding a training solution that fits your needs and your budget as a small business.
We will go over:
- What cloud-based training is
- The different kinds of learning management systems (LMS) to choose from
- Top 6 benefits of a SaaS (cloud-based) LMS for a small business.
Now, let’s start by defining what cloud-based training is so that you can articulate its benefits to your leadership team as you rally support for a learning management system for your small business.
What is cloud-based training?
Cloud-based training, unlike in-person training, is learning that is delivered via the internet. A cloud-based LMS, or SaaS (software as a service) LMS is a training platform that helps a business organize, assign, delivered and track that cloud-based training through their personal online portal.
Similar to in-person training, cloud-based e-learning helps facilitate the exchange of knowledge between subject matter experts (or instructors) within your organization, and less knowledgeable employees or new hires. The primary difference is in how that knowledge is delivered, tracked and managed.
Cloud-based training makes the training process more accessible, reliable and consistent within your small business.
If you’d like to learn more about the full picture of an LMS implementation process, download our free guide, How To Implement An Engaging LMS.
Now, that we’ve covered what cloud-based training is, let’s dig deeper into what the options are for a small business looking to move from traditional, in-person training to online, cloud-based e-learning.
Cloud-based e-learning options for small businesses
If you’ve started searching for an affordable LMS, you’ve likely come across an array of online training software options ranging from $0/month to upwards of $10,000 or more a month. While this array of options can appear overwhelming at first, as a budget-conscious Training Manager you’ll want to get the most bang for your buck. In this case, there are two clear options to evaluate—an open source learning management system and a SaaS learning management system.
What is an open source learning management system?
An open source learning management system is a low cost, or free downloadable LMS software.
Open source LMS includes basic learning management features and can often be download directly from the providers website and start using it right away. If this sounds like a good option for you, Moodle is a good place to start. There are other free alternatives available as well, like CourseSites by Blackboard, Sakai, Latitude Learning, Dokeos, eFront, Schoology, and ILIAS. All of these options provide a basic cloud-based e-learning option for free.
- The biggest upside: Using an open source LMS is FREE! It won’t cost your organization anything to download the software.
- The biggest downside: Although open source LMS solutions don’t require an initial investment, they only offer the most basic learning management features—making it difficult for organizations to get what they need out of the system without customizing it. Often, corporate customers that use Moodle invest a large chunk of change into integrating it with other software programs and making it more applicable to their business needs.
What is a SaaS learning management system?
As described earlier, a SaaS (software as a service) LMS is a cloud-based learning platform.
For most, a SaaS learning management system is going to be the best platform to deliver corporate training materials. This type of LMS often has more robust functionality, with the ability to integrate with other software programs that your business uses every day. You will also get access to onboarding training and customer service representatives.
There are many options for a SaaS-based system in the market, though many of the options are catered toward medium to large organizations with a bigger budget for cloud-based training delivery. However, there are a variety of LMS providers that offer reasonably priced options for small businesses. Let’s look at the best LMS options available for organizations with less than 500 employees.
Five SaaS Options for Small Businesses
- Knowledge Anywhere: For 500 active users it is $799/month, or $1.60/employee/month. Learn more about all the features included in our LMS pricing.
- Litmos: For 500 active users a month it is $1,500, or $3/employee/month.
- Digital Chalk: For 500 active users it is $699/month, or $1.40/employee/month.
- MindFlash: For 500 active users it is $599/month, or $1.20/employee/month.
- Unboxed: For 500 active users it is $799/month, or $1.60/employee/month.
The five SaaS options mentioned provide an affordable and feature-rich option for a cloud-based training system for a small business on a tight budget.
Here is an article with more details about cost models of LMS providers.
Still not convinced that paying for a cloud-based training system is doable for your small business? Keep reading to learn why an LMS is worth the cost.
Why an LMS IS worth the cost?
As a small business with less than 500 employees, you’re running on a much tighter budget than some of the giants. As such, you may wonder whether or not a learning management system falls under the list of things your business genuinely needs or if it’s something that you can do without. Is a learning management system worth the cost for small businesses?
An well fit LMS can transform the way your business handles training and free up your administrators and employees to take care of the other important tasks that come their way every day.
How exactly does an LMS do this?
#1 Keep All Your Training Materials Together and Easily Accessible
A learning management system allows you to more effectively manage employee access to vital training materials—that is, it allows them easy access to everything they need to know at any given time. Not only are all the materials in the same place, which means there’s no need to go digging through several people’s offices to find the relevant materials, organizing your training materials in a learning management system offers some other benefits.
- Ensure that you can always find the materials when you need them, rather than needing to “wing it” or recreate them every time you offer the same training
- Offer employees who have been with the company longer the ability to access information from old training modules, refreshing their knowledge and understanding when necessary
- Ensure that every employee is using the most up-to-date version of your training materials, rather than the outdated version they just happened to get their hands on
#2 Streamline the Training Process
In many training sessions, employees find themselves listening to information they don’t need to get the information that they do. For example, the employee may already be familiar with safety regulations in the industry (and able to pass a quick quiz to prove it) but struggle with the specific procedures for your organization.
By providing only the information that employees need to know in a smooth, efficient manner, a learning management system makes it much easier for employees to complete the training process. That means they can get back to work faster!
#3 Cut Organizational Costs
When you decide to use a learning management system, don’t just consider the initial cost of the project. Consider the costs that it saves you in the process! This might include:
- Travel costs for a trainer
- The cost of hiring a trainer in the first place
- The cost of printed materials
The up-front cost of a learning management system is designed to be manageable for businesses of all sizes. Before deciding that it’s “too expensive,” consider what you’re spending on training already. You might be surprised by what you can manage!
#4 Track Your Training More Effectively
Some types of training, like safety training, are required on a regular basis, whether by your business or by your industry. Other types of training are mandatory for new employees to complete within a specific period. Still, others must be completed by all employees before they can use new equipment or engage in new processes. Learning management systems don’t just allow you to provide the information to your employees. They also make it possible to track it! They can:
- Show you how employees scored on assessments
- Send employees reminders of the fact that they need to complete specific training modules
- Determine which employees have completed training and which ones still need to do it
- Give you the dates when specific employees last completed annual training requirements
#5 Offer Better Feedback Opportunities
Learning management systems allow you to provide the same training to every employee in your company. They also provide you with the opportunity to collect feedback from your employees as soon as they finish a course.
Rather than bringing it up in the discussion later or telling them to submit information that they might later forget, you can assess employees’ understanding of each module along with their final material assessments, completing it as a natural part of the process. This will allow you to refine your training to offer exactly what employees need to be successful, ensuring that there’s less wasted time both throughout the training and after, when employees may need to go back and revisit information.
#6 Update Training Materials More Easily
When you use a learning management system, updating your training materials is as simple as altering the document, then making the new copy available. Updating paper training materials can be complicated: you have to track down every copy of the materials and replace it with a new one, then make sure that everyone knows not to use the old copy of the materials.
That means that small changes are more trouble to make than they’re worth, and big ones get put off for as long as possible! With a learning management system, however, you can update your training materials with ease and get them in your employees’ hands fast, whether you’re creating an update in answer to a common question, correcting an error, or providing updated information.
If you take the time to do your research and find a platform that fits your current and future needs at a cost you can afford, a learning management systems is a great option to increase efficiency and consistency in your small business.
Whether you are just starting your search or have already looked at some platforms, sometimes it is nice to talk to an expert to help prioritize needs and see what your options are. If you would like to talk with someone about your needs, feel free to reach out to us.
With over 20 years in the elearning business, Knowledge Anywhere is happy to help you achieve your training and development goals.
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