If you’re about to implement a new LMS, you’ll have already invested time and resources in the process. There’s the research you put in to make sure you’ve picked the perfect platform. Meetings with the vendor to discuss LMS implementation from a technical standpoint. And presentations to the board and other stakeholders. With contracts signed, you’re finally ready to launch.
Hardest part over, right? Perhaps not.
First, you have to let everyone in the company know there’s a new tool for training. And then, provide them with good reasons to actually use it. Easy to say. Less easy to do. Which is why we’ve pulled together a complete guide to LMS implementation. From preparing the path to rolling out your training and reporting on success, you’ll find out what to do, how, and when.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Pushbacks you might face during your LMS launch
- 10 steps to successfully market your new LMS
- A sample communications plan (downloadable PDF)
Pushbacks you might face when launching a new LMS
Before we dive straight into what your LMS implementation project plan will look like, let’s consider the different obstacles you might face and how you can address them. These could arrive from any part of your organization, but, generally speaking, will probably come from five different persona types:
Persona No.1: Change-resistant
Most likely to say: “Why upset the balance?”
Concerned about: Losing control and fear of the unknown or of failure. This often prompts employees to view change in the workplace—like a new LMS—as negative and unnecessary.
Win them over by: Asking them to help test the new LMS.
Persona No.2: L&D-weary
Most likely to say: “Seen it all before”
Concerned about: Having experienced lots of different training approaches (not all of them successful) in their time with your company or in previous jobs, they might see your new LMS as “just another HR tool they need to log into.”
Win them over by: Showing them why your new LMS is different and what they can gain from it.
Persona No.3: Tech-tentative
Most likely to say: “What’s wrong with PowerPoint?”
Concerned about: While many people embrace new technologies, there are still those who don’t trust them and prefer to stick with more traditional approaches.
Win them over by: Designing a simple and appealing portal along with clear, concise, and easy-to-follow training guides.
Persona No.4: Target-focused
Most likely to say: “I’ve got better things to do”
Concerned about: Busy managers with KPIs and goals to meet might be reluctant to take time out of their tight schedule to engage with new training tools.
Win them over by: Sharing case studies of similar organizations who’ve smashed old KPIs and targets after switching over to a new LMS.
Persona No.5: Results-driven
Most likely to say: “Still to be convinced”
Concerned about: You may have won approval and budget for this initial rollout, but there could be senior managers who’re still unsure about the value of ongoing investment.
Win them over by: Providing post-launch data, statistics, and user feedback.
Having identified and defined your key personas, you can directly target each one and address their concerns through your internal communications and marketing strategy.
A 10-step guide to successfully market your new LMS
Moving training over to the new LMS you’ve chosen is going to transform L&D across your organization. It will present lots more opportunities for development for all. And make people more successful in their roles.
You know that. Now you need to make sure everyone else in the company does, too. And that takes: a plan, a well-considered communications strategy, a toolkit of resources and collateral to support the rollout, and the data and insights to back it all up.
But, what do you need to do and when? Here’s a 10-step guide:
1. Set up an LMS implementation team
How: Identify a few people in each of the areas with a keen interest in your LMS launch. For example, HR, L&D, IT, Internal Comms, and Marketing.
Why: These people will have specialist skills to help with your LMS launch, enthusiasm for the product and what it’s capable of, and the knowledge to offer support and advice to users when you launch.
2. Define your user types
How: Look at the kind of access certain people or groups need to have. And then map this over to the different LMS user types: for example, administrators, instructors, learners.
Why: By segmenting users up in this way you can produce targeted messaging and supporting content for each user type.
3. Create objectives
How: Work with your LMS implementation team to establish what your LMS marketing campaign goals are. Raising awareness and building engagement with the new LMS are two obvious ones to start with. But, you may want to identify more specific and measurable targets. For example:
- get X number of people to register by Y date
- have X number of courses completed by Y date
- reduce the number of product-related queries from salespeople by X%
Why: Setting clear and specific objectives will help you roll out effective communications. It’ll also give you the data you need to report back to senior management.
4. Plan your communications
How: Use your launch date, personas, and user types to help you plan your internal messaging strategy—who needs to know what, how, and when? This is also the time to think about the channels you’ll use. These could range from your company intranet (if you have one) to emails, newsletters, and team meetings.
Why: You’ll need to make sure your LMS launch gets noticed. Drafting a comms plan is a good way to ensure your messaging doesn’t conflict with any other major launches or campaigns. You’ll also be able to address all of the pain points and personas.
Most of your communications will be for all employees. But, you’ll want to communicate directly with different audience segments to deliver more tailored messaging. Your senior management team or department heads, for example, will be interested in the benefits (reduced downtime, for example) that the LMS will bring to their team and the business. They’ll also want to talk about the LMS implementation project plan in their team meetings. So, you should prepare them and give them information in advance to help them do this with passion and credibility.
Spoiler alert: There’s a downloadable sample communications plan below to give you a headstart.
5. Personalize your platform
How: If your LMS includes a custom homepage feature, you’re in luck! Use it to quickly craft a no-fuss, content-rich landing page that reflects your brand and highlights some of the great courses you’ve got to offer.
Then make it easy to access by integrating with existing systems so learners can log in using their regular password.
Why: You want your learners to feel “at home”, comfortable and interested when they embark on their learning journey. Your landing page needs to set the mood for this. By customizing it to make it consistent with your other channels and connected to your brand, you’re one step closer to engaging your users.
Plus, you’ll win over those tech- or change-resistant employees who are not exactly fond of the idea of learning how to use “yet another tool.”
6. Target and test
How: Identify a group of people to test out your LMS before its launch (try to choose at least one person from each of your group of personas and/or user types). List all of the functions and processes they’ll need to perform and ask them to try and replicate these using the LMS. Record their feedback and any glitches that they come across during the test.
Why: There are three big benefits of this approach.
- Improve usability and iron out any small technical issues.
- Build engagement and a sense of ownership with some of your most resistant personas.
- Identify “super users” or ambassadors for your new LMS who’ll help their colleagues become familiar with the software or simply being on-hand to provide guidance.
7. Produce resources
How: Use your LMS implementation team to generate content and collateral to support the LMS launch. At the very least you’ll need a simple guide to show learners how to log onto and navigate the portal. (This can be in any format, but a short instructional video works particularly well and supports the ethos of your move towards an online, more engaging, and innovative training approach).
And don’t forget your marketing campaign collateral too – posters, flyers, case studies, intranet news items, and promotional videos.
Why: This is all about raising awareness and building engagement (your key objectives).
8. Start training
How: If you can, hold hands-on workshops so you can demo the LMS and show off its capabilities. Make sure to highlight features that your “old” training approach didn’t support, for example, recorded webinars, live training events, videos, quizzes and games, online resources, and remote/mobile learning.
Try to give your learners a chance to have a go themselves. And make sure you’ve uploaded some high-quality content they can get stuck into. If you can’t demo in person, try a live online training session or webinar.
Why: A practical session is a great way to break down barriers, reassure and support reluctant learners and demonstrate how your new LMS can make a difference.
9. Identify super users
How: Check your LMS reports to identify people who have heavily engaged with your new system, its content, and courses. Turn them into LMS ambassadors who can encourage and support other employees.
Why: Peer-to-peer endorsement is worth its weight in gold. When learners show their colleagues how they are using your LMS, that’s more powerful than you telling them how to use it.
10. Report back
How: Track and measure success using quantitative data provided by your LMS and qualitative data from your users. Use feedback surveys, ongoing workshops, and support channels to gather insights.
Why: This will help demonstrate ROI and build a strong case for further/ongoing investment.
Delivering the message
Shock and scare your learners by introducing a new LMS without any lead-in time or advance warning and you’re in trouble. How early you start to communicate your launch will depend on a number of factors: how large your organization is, what else you’ve got going on, how quickly your senior management team wants you to roll out, and what your agreement is with your vendor.
But, the earlier you start talking the better. Below is a sample LMS launch communications plan. The lead-in times are just suggested. So, adapt the timeline to suit your needs.
For example, if your teams are already familiar with what an LMS is (or if you were already using a training platform), you can skip the first steps and start communicating your new programs right away. But, if you want to promote a completely new L&D plan (e.g., if you’re now transitioning to online training), it’s better to introduce the changes gradually.
In any case, remember the four key aims of your communications plan:
- address ignorance
- provoke interest
- drive and retain engagement
- achieve success
Download our sample communications plan.
Adjust your timeline, prepare promotional materials,
and get ready for a successful LMS launch.
Make a good impression
The key to successful training is that it’s not forced. And that applies to your training platform, too. If your employees feel forced to use it, they’ll probably view their entire training as a chore. So, when launching a new LMS, it pays to make a great first impression.
Engage and excite your learners through a well-planned LMS launch campaign. And then impress them with a well-designed and easy-to-use learning experience. Because that will determine the success of your L&D program.