The LMS Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best LMS for Your Organization

So your organization has decided it’s time to invest in an LMS. If you’re anything like most buyers, you’re probably overwhelmed with the countless options. A quick Google search reveals hundreds of LMS vendors. Perhaps you are just beginning your search and are unsure of where to start , or maybe you’re months into it and have seen more demos than you can remember. Either way, in order to get the most out of your prospective LMS, it is essential that you can narrow your search to those systems that fit your organization’s needs most closely. By thinking through the features that are most important to you and your organization, you will not only save yourself hours of fruitless demos, but you will also end the process with an LMS that is the best suited to help your organization achieve its people development and learning goals.

To help you get started, our team of experts have put together a comprehensive list of things to consider when buying an LMS.

  • Goals
    • First and foremost, it is critical that you enter the LMS-buying process with specific goals in mind. What do you want to achieve with an LMS? Why is your organization considering purchasing an LMS in the first place? Which specific organizational problems can an LMS help you solve?
    • The most clear of a vision you have when entering the LMS-buying process, the more focused your search will be. If you’re unsure about the answer to any of these questions, discuss it with your management team to create greater alignment on your organization’s collective goals for implementing a new LMS.
  • Implementation
    • It is important to understand the implementation process before moving forward with any purchase of an LMS, as implementation varies widely across vendors. Some important questions to consider are:
      • By when would our organization like to have our LMS fully-implemented?
      • Is coaching throughout implementation process something that is important for us?
      • Would we prefer a self-service implementation, an assisted set-up, or a full-service implementation?
  • Support
    • Implementation is one thing, but it is also important to consider the level of ongoing support that is important for your organization. Most buyers think of support only in the technical sense, but if your organization is interested in process and/or coaching support, it is important to ask vendors if that is something they offer. After all, you want to partner with a vendor that is just as invested as you are in your organization’s success deployment of the LMS.
  • Scalability
    • Are you looking to purchase an LMS for one department or an entire organization? Perhaps you’re looking to deploy the new system in a single team or location before scaling it across the organization. No matter how you plan to roll out the new system, it is important to communicate your vision with potential vendors. 
  • Culture
    • Culture is a factor that doesn’t even cross the minds of most buyers, but often ends up being one of the most common reasons why LMS adoptions fail. At its core, an LMS is a tool to help you build and sustain your organization’s culture of learning and continuous development. When you’re looking for a new LMS, it is important that you think about if and how the new software can help you drive culture in your organization. It is always a good idea to this up during a discovery call or demo with a vendor to make sure you are on the same page about the role of organizational culture in the software’s deployment.
  • Reporting Capabilities
    • Different LMS’s all come equipped with their own reporting structures, so it is important to spend some time early in the buying process thinking about which reporting elements are important to you. For example, the majority of LMSs can track superficial metrics such as content consumption or training attendance, but if you are interested in tracking more indicative metrics like skill development or engagement, you should clarify this during vendor discovery calls or demos.
  • Integrations
    • Integrations are another important consideration when shopping around for an LMS. For example, do you use any other HR software programs that you would like your LMS to integrate with? How does your organization manage its employee census and how can that potentially integrate with a new LMS? Additionally, different kinds of organizations may have different integration needs. For instance, if you’re in a Sales Enablement role, you may decide that you need your LMS to integrate with your CRM, so it is important to ask potential vendors if they have experience with these sorts of integrations.
  • Customization
    • LMS demos can often feel like you’re being bombarded with features. Thinking about which features are most important for your organization can help save you time and streamline the demo process. Here are a few specifc features to consider:
      • Skills Tracking
      • Performance Metrics
      • Gamification
      • Skills Assessment
      • Learning Paths
      • Compliance Tracking
      • Blended Learning