Today, companies around the world are moving their training online. The advancements in technology and the ease of connectivity have helped eLearning to grow 900% in just the last two decades. Companies need to have a quality learning management system (LMS) to provide online training to their teams.
In the recent past, most training would occur in person. This was true whether companies were educating employees on new procedures, onboarding, or providing any other type of training. Large-scale corporate training was often done at conferences, seminars, and workshops where everyone gathered and was taught by one or more instructors.
Traditional training no longer needs to be the standard, though. Virtual training has the potential to provide far more benefits. It will allow learners and trainers from all around the world to connect. This can be done via recorded training sessions or in real-time depending on the needs of the company. These systems can provide the learners with training material that can be accessed online whenever needed.
Before a company chooses to adopt a learning management system, though, it’s important to get a better understand of what it is, how it works, and the types of features they should look for with the system.
What Is a Learning Management System?
An LMS is an online system that allows users to create any type of eLearning course their company might need and deliver those courses to the trainees. The system is entirely online and all information is kept in one place for easy management.
Learning Management Systems Have Two Parts
There are two main parts to any LMS. This includes the admin interface and the user interface. Let’s take a closer look at what each of these does.
- The admin interface is the part of the system where the training manager organizes and creates all of the learning courses for the company. It’s also where they will deliver the courses to the trainees, add learners to the system, analyze reports, and automate notifications that need to go out.
- The user interface, on the other hand, is the part that learners will see when they are taking one of the courses. It’s where they will take the course, get training materials, etc. The user interface will run inside of a browser, just like other online programs and tools that users are already familiar with using.
The LMS Improves Training
When a quality LMS is used, it will make training faster, easier, and more efficient. Users can build online lessons and even combine individual lessons to create a longer course.
The managers can assign courses to employees. Offer courses that people might want to take, or even sell those courses. Some businesses may opt to sell courses they create to partners, customers, or others who might want to take the lesson, for example.
The LMS also makes it possible to enroll people into the training and manage their progress and performance once they start taking a lesson.
In the past, all of this would have been done manually, which would take far more time and effort. Management could be difficult to track and paperwork could become lost. The digital system reduces the headaches for training managers.
Who Could Benefit from Using an LMS?
Far more companies are using learning management systems than many might think. While they are now a staple of many educational institutions, that’s just the beginning. All manner of businesses could benefit from the use of this type of tool. Let’s look at a few examples of the types of organizations that could benefit from an LMS.
- Nonprofit groups
- Large multinational corporations
- Small and medium-sized businesses
- All levels of government organizations
- Consulting firms
- Schools, universities, colleges
- Online learning organizations
- Independent trainers and coaches
All types of industries have the potential to benefit. Whether it’s a tech company, a retail chain, a hospital, a law firm, etc., a learning management system can help to streamline the training process.
How the LMS Can Be Used
The lessons can be created on any type of topic that might be needed. This is why it’s such a valuable tool to such a wide audience.
Companies will often use it to train their internal employees and their partners. Someone who is an expert in their field might create and then sell their courses online. Consulting firms can provide training for their clients on a wide range of topics. There is virtually no limit to what can be done with a quality LMS. Let’s take a deeper look at the ways that you might be able to use an LMS.
Onboarding New Employees
One of the most common ways to use this type of system is to onboard new employees that you are bringing into the company. They likely have a lot to learn about the company culture, the rules, regulations, compliance policies, company history, etc.
You can easily create a course that provides this type of material and other items you feel are important for employees to learn about your company. Employees can study the material at their own pace and can refer to it if they need.
Having an onboarding course that also allows the users to go back into what is essentially a digital manual can be a huge benefit. You can adapt and change the manual as needed and as your company grows.
In addition to using LMS for onboarding, it’s possible to create full training courses. In some cases, you might have employees that you need to test on new skills or processes. You might need to provide compliance training. There is no limit to the type of training that can be provided through LMS. You can use it for new employees, those who have been with the company for years, executives, and others.
Using these systems and simply updating the training courses as needed can help to keep costs down and provide a range of other benefits discussed later.
Retention of Employee Knowledge
Your employees who have been at the company for years have a wealth of institutional knowledge you can’t afford to lose. They know how things work and how to get things done. They have skills, techniques, and information that you want to make sure remain with the company when those employees eventually retire or decide to leave.
Having a quality LMS in place can help to ensure that the knowledge is passed down through lessons and courses. Future employees will be able to benefit from it for years to come.
Training for Partners and Customers
Many businesses will have partners or third parties that represent the company. You want to make sure that they understand what your company offers, your company culture, policies, outlook, etc.
Providing some simple training through a digital LMS will allow them to learn from a distance. You can make sure that they understand your business, which will give you peace of mind when they are dealing with your customers.
Speaking of customers, it’s possible to train your customers using LMS, as well. Think about all of the various ways you could use one of these systems to help your customers. In some cases, you might want to help to get them trained to use a product that you sell to them. If you are offering a piece of complex (or simple) software, providing them with a training course can help them get up to speed.
Your customers will appreciate this, and it will also mean that you will get fewer calls to customer service because people can’t figure out the software. Of course, this can apply to any type of product that you might offer, not just software.
Other companies might have online learning as a major part of their business model. Perhaps you create courses and charge customers to take those courses. You will need to have a good LMS to provide courses and to test the skills of the customers who are taking them.
Improve Efforts of the Sales Team
The sales department often has to learn about new products or services quickly, so they can start selling them. Customer service needs to have an understanding of these products and services, as well. To make it easier to learn about the most important information needed for sales and service, an LMS will help.
Keep in mind that the courses don’t only have to apply to the new products and services. They might also be used if there are new processes that are being used by the team if there are new selling techniques or changes to the industry that they need to know. Thanks to the flexibility of learning management systems, they can be used for just about anything.
One of the biggest barriers to traditional training is geography. It can be difficult for large companies that have offices around the country or the world is providing training for everyone. Moving the training online will make it possible for all employees to receive the training they need. They can get training material or attend live training no matter where they might be as long as they have an Internet connection.
Brick and mortar and online educational institutions make use of digital LMS. In addition to schools selling different types of courses, some traditional brick-and-mortar schools might want to offer these digital courses as a supplement to the classroom learning that they offer.
These are just some of the ways that LMS is being used today. These online systems have a range of benefits that are helping to make them very popular. LMS will likely become even more prominent with individuals and businesses of all sizes going forward. It’s time to delve into the major benefits that a learning management system can offer.
What Are the Benefits of Using an LMS?
As you have seen, learning management systems can be used for many different purposes. However, you might still wonder whether the transition to using this type of digital training will be worth it for you.
Although your company might be using classroom training or hardcopy manuals for training currently, it’s time to consider just how beneficial choosing to use an LMS can be.
Because the information is digital, making changes and updates to the lessons and courses is fast and easy. This is a major benefit when compared with using hardcopies, as old hardcopies would need to be destroyed and then replaced with new information. This takes time and it’s expensive to do. With LMS software, you can make the changes in a matter of minutes in many cases.
Reduce Training Costs
Training can cost a substantial amount of money when you consider the amount of work that often goes into it. With traditional methods, you would not only need to have up-to-date hardcopies, but you might also need to hire a trainer each time you wanted to train employees on certain matters in the company. You would also need to have space available for the training. Getting the logistics right can be a pain.
With LMS, once your course is done, you don’t need to hire someone to present the material at each training session. Instead, anyone who needs it will have unlimited access to the training content that is created.
Distance Doesn’t Matter
Because it’s all digital, the location of the employees will not matter when you are using an LMS. You might have an employee, partner, customer, etc. that’s across town, the country, or the world. As long as they have access to the digital training course through their own device, they can take part in the learning experience. This is far more convenient than trying to get everyone into the same room.
Work from Home
An LMS can also make working from home easier since people can now get all of the same material that they would typically get at a workplace training session. They don’t have to come into the office for training whether it’s for compliance, new products, etc.
This is helpful not just during a pandemic, but for any employees that prefer working from home. With more and more companies offering this option today, it’s nice to know that having an LMS can ensure they are getting the same quality of training that other employees are getting.
Learn at Different Paces
One of the major problems with traditional classroom training that many companies have been using is that it doesn’t account for the different learning speeds and capacities of different employees. Some workers will pick things up quickly when they are in a classroom setting, but others might not. In classroom settings, people often won’t speak up if they don’t understand something. They don’t want to slow the class down. Of course, this means that they don’t get the information and knowledge they need.
Fortunately, with LMS, it’s easier to let people learn at their own pace. They can go through the material more than once if needed, so they can be sure that they understand it. If they don’t, they can then contact their manager to get a deeper explanation.
The LMS can also make it possible for people to learn when they are on the go. They might not want to work on the training while they are in the workplace and might prefer accessing it from home. If that’s the case, and they are required to complete the training, you will want to make sure they are compensated for any time they spend on the training. Because you can track progress and time in an LMS, it should be easier to calculate how much time they’ve spent in the system.
Track the Results
An LMS makes it easy to track how and when people are using the program. They can provide metrics that cover when users log into the system, when they finish a course, etc. You will know which of your employees have completed the courses, how long it took, etc. Different tools will have different capabilities.
Make Engagement Easier
Another problem that can occur with training in the workplace is boredom when it comes to certain topics. Keep in mind that not all training will be about developing an employee’s skills. Sometimes, the training will cover things like company policies or compliance regulations. Because those topics may not be exciting, it can be difficult to get people to pay proper attention.
With quality LMS software, it is possible to gamify the content that’s being covered. For example, you may be able to add awards, quizzes, create competitions amongst employees, etc. with the tool. This can help to keep people more focused on learning no matter what the subject might be.
Career Development Can Improve Retention Rates
When employees see that you are putting effort into ensuring they have proper and regular training, they will feel that you are more involved in their career development. This can, in turn, make them more invested in being with your company.
When employees have the opportunity to improve their skills through the training you offer, and through an online course library that you create, they are often more likely to stay with your company. They feel that there may be room for them to grow and advance as part of your business rather than needing to seek employment elsewhere.
Better for the Employees
The learning management systems not only help companies, but it makes learning better for the employees, as well. They will have access to training and skill development at no additional cost to them. Online learning courses and lessons can also allow employees to learn at their own pace. If they aren’t certain about a topic, they can go through it again. They can take their time with the lessons, which can help the information to stick.
Many employees also like the benefits of being able to learn when they have time and no matter where they might be. Employees that work part-time and who would have to come into the office to take an in-person seminar during their usual off time can now attend that seminar online. The flexibility of the LMS makes learning more convenient for them.
What an LMS Cannot Do
An LMS is a critical technology tool that makes life far easier when it comes to managing the training, learning, and educational programming your company or organization needs its employees to engage. It’s also important, however, to understand what an LMS cannot do for you. It’s an awesome tool, not a magical app that solves everything for you. Keep in mind the following:
An LMS Doesn’t Know What Your Employees Need
No LMS can tell you want training and learning your employees need. The LMS helps you manage the learning and training programs your employees need, but it can’t tell you what you need. You must first figure out what your employees need. In some cases, this will be obvious. Your company already has some programs in place for onboarding and training and learning. You can bring those into an LMS to make it easier to manage them from one place, including analyzing data about the programs and courses and how employees engage them in order to improve those programs over time.
In other cases, you will come to realize that brand new training and learning programs and courses are needed. For example, you have a particular business goal such as increasing sales but your sales team doesn’t seem to be making progress toward the goal. Upon further examination, you discover there are some aspects of sales process they aren’t doing well, such as adequately explaining how the product will solve specific problems of customers. The sales team needs additional training, and once that training content is created, it can be loaded into the LMS to make it available to everyone who needs it.
An LMS Can’t Create the Learning Content for You
In the same way that the LMS can’t magically tell you what learning and training your employees need, it also can’t create the training and learning content needed. You still have to create the actual course content that will be made available and managed through the LMS. If you don’t have the capacity in-house to develop the needed learning content, you may have to work with professional learning content specialists who can help you create the needed content. Once it exists, then it will be brought into the LMS.
An LMS Won’t Tell You if Your Content is Effective
This one is a little trickier because the LMS can provide data you can use to determine if your training and learning content is effective. For example, an LMS with decent data analytics and reporting should be able to tell you how many people started the training and how many people finished the training. If a significant percentage of people don’t finish the training, this might indicate there’s a problem with the content or some other aspect of the training that is making people drop out and not complete it. A significant number of people who never start the training may indicate you’ve also got some work to do around communicating with employees about the training.
But you also don’t have to rely on just guessing what’s going on with data like that. You can build in course and program evaluations through the LMS that participants fill out to tell you what they thought of the learning. As with the learning content itself, however, you must create the evaluation questions to ask and then incorporate the evaluation into the course.
Beyond learner opinions about the training, you can also build in more formal learning assessments (tests and quizzes) and use the scores participants achieve on those as another set of data about content effectiveness. If you test participants at the end of the training and most of them fail the test, it may indicate the learning content you developed did not effectively teach them what you wanted them to learn.
What Should You Look for When Choosing an LMS?
One of the most important things to keep in mind when you are choosing an LMS is that the software is just part of the solution. It’s the tool that will help to make all of the benefits discussed earlier possible.
When you are choosing a system, you need to prioritize your needs. Consider how you will be using the LMS and make sure the solution you are considering will meet those needs. If you don’t have your own IT team to get the system up and running and to integrate it, you might want to opt for an easy-to-use, cloud-based LMS available on a monthly subscription basis (typically discounted if you pay for a whole year at a time).
The advantages of a cloud-based SaaS (software as a service) LMS offering are substantial. You don’t have to download and install software on any computers. Instead, you access the software through your web browser. This also means you never have to worry about upgrading the software because that happens behind-the-scenes with the vendor. The vendor will typically notify you when major changes are happening, new features being added, and so on, but you don’t have to update or upgrade anything yourself.
Consider your budget, the types of training you need to offer, and whether the system will support selling courses if that’s your goal.
Take the time to check customer reviews and see if there might be an option available for a free trial. This can give you a better sense of how the system works and whether it will be a good choice for you or not. A little research will go a long way.
What Do You Need?
Keep in mind these systems are not a one-size-fits-all tool. Different systems will work better for different types of companies and may be geared toward specific audiences. Make sure that the one you choose is a good fit for your company.
One of the most important things to look at when you are choosing an LMS will be the interfaces the learners and managers will be using. They need to have a clean and easy-to-use interface, so users will not have to spend a long time figuring out how to use the system.
Additionally, you will want to choose a system with a user interface that can be branded or customized for your company or organization. Also look for an LMS that offers gamification options, which will make training more enjoyable by keeping in fun and competitive in a friendly way. The managers can set goals, rewards, and internal competitions.
It’s also important to find a mobile-friendly option, so tablets and smartphones can be used in addition to desktops and laptops. Check to see if the LMS will integrate with third-party systems and whether you can add custom scripts and plugins. Many companies need their LMS to integrate with the human resources platform or other apps, which means the LMS needs to have a robust and effective API to allow such integrations to happen as easily as possible.
Here’s bulleted summary of what you want from any LMS you might choose:
- User-Friendly: Easy to use for both learners and administrators.
- Scalable: Can grow with your company and its changing learning and training needs.
- Analytics: Provides all the data, metrics, reporting, and analytics you need.
- Affordability: Comes at a price that fits your budget.
- Gamification: Having options available to make learning fun and competitive.
- Customizable: The LMS can be “branded” for your company or organization.
- Device-Agnostic: It should work on any device (desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone).
Get Started with an LMS
Learning management systems have utterly transformed the way training and learning happen in many organizations and businesses in the digital age of the twenty-first century. If your company has never used an LMS, now is the time to make it happen. After all, there has never been a greater need for businesses to be as nimble and quick as possible when it comes to disseminating needed training and learning content while also assessing its quality and tracking its impact. The only tool that makes this possible is a modern LMS. If you have an LMS but it’s not delivering the benefits outlined earlier, then it is time to switch to one that will.
With more work happening remotely than ever before, an LMS that is accessible anywhere, anytime is what allows you to get your employees the learning and training they need to be successful, no matter where they may be. Choosing the right LMS is the key that will unlock the door to take your company’s learning and training efforts to a whole new level for everyone’s benefit.