You’ve done your research, identified your organization’s needs, vetted LMS vendors, and negotiated the best price…now it’s time for the real challenge to begin!
Selecting the right LMS is only half the battle, and to get the most out of your new LMS you’ll have to know how to effectively administer and integrate it into your organizational structure.
So, how do you know where to start, and what are some LMS tips that can help you to make the LMS implementation process streamlined, simplified, and stress-free?
In this post, I will be offering an in-depth look at how to achieve implementing a learning management system in your company or organization. In doing so, I will be using examples from our Cloud LMS (talent) and our deployed LMS (eFrontLearning), and best practices employed by our users.
The purpose of this article is to give you the opportunity to go through the deployment process with ease. We will primarily be focusing on small to medium organizations, as per the definition of the terms in the American market, which is any organization consisting of 1-500 people.
Sample Project Plan For Your Learning Management System (LMS) Implementation
1. Design an LMS implementation strategy and process
Creating an LMS plan well in advance is key to its future success (and possibly even the success of your organization, for that matter). As such, you’ll probably want to begin formulating an LMS implementation strategy even before you purchase a new lLMS.
This will allow you to get the right team members on board, gather their feedback, and ensure that you are able to ultimately deploy the LMS you purchase.
2. Prepare your team for LMS deployment and administration
You will need to have a small group (no more than 5 or 6 people, depending upon the scale of your LMS deployment) that can work on the LMS implementation. These individuals will oversee the administration, technical support, and content management of your new learning management system. You may also want to appoint one person, in particular, to act as the team leader, and another to create a training strategy once the new system has been installed and tested. This team may also include those who help out and serve as advisers on an occasional basis, such as those who use the LMS frequently or content creators.
In an example taken out of real life, we have realized that usually, a small to medium organization will have several people managing the different sectors of the LMS. It is particularly helpful if the LMS allows you to add and modify new user types with unique rights and permissions to make sure that each person has access to everything they need to monitor, whether that is Reports, content management, administrative rights and moderation of assignments.
In other instances, it has been noted that companies choose to assign a person for each branch in order to have a person responsible over a segment of their LMS as a whole, or simply to monitor some specific information over that branch.
The reason behind having specific people undertaking those tasks is to disseminate responsibilities in a way that allows both for smooth operation of the LMS as well as synergy between team members to achieve the best relationship between the trainer and the trainee – with a system that works 24/7.
3. Formulate an LMS implementation timeline
After you’ve prepared an effective team, you’ll want to create a realistic timeline that details when certain tasks need to be carried out. You’ll want to not only leave sufficient time in the schedule for the LMS implementation itself, but for problem solving.
For example, if an issue arises when you are trying to migrate data, you may need another three or four weeks in your timeline to remedy the problem and iron out any issues that crop-up. It’s best to always leave room to get rid of any glitches or address any concerns that may crop up during the deployment of your new learning management system.
Just like in the case of any project, the issue of time is one that can make or break the efforts of the team.
Two things need to be present in order for the team to exist in an environment of cohesion and synergy:
- Honest and clear communication between members, to avoid ambiguity in the goal setting process
- Trust between team members so tasks can be completed without excessive micromanagement. A clock must work seamlessly; every cog is as important as the sum of them all.
An important recommendation we make to prospective clients is to take their time to try out the LMS before deciding what fits them best. Market research is a grueling process that may take quite some time, especially when the person in charge is not very well versed with that type of software. Thus, two factors come into play:
- Make sure you dedicate enough time to tick all the boxes in your list of needs.
- It’s important that your trial is not limited, so you can be able to properly assess whether or not it suits your specific needs before committing to an LMS that “almost” did it for you.
Important Advice: Ask questions! When a feature you are interested in is not available, make sure that you do your research and follow-up on that; it might just be that other users are also interested on the same feature, and your interest may be the needed force toward its implementation. Your input is always appreciated in a market so fresh and so people-centered.
4. Ensure your LMS implementation plan works for your organization’s needs
Your LMS implementation plan should be fluid and flexible, in that it will probably need to evolve over time. Your LMS vendor should be able to provide you with an LMS implementation time line, a list of the all of the tasks that need to be wrapped up during the process, and any other LMS configuration information that will be pertinent to your new LMS deployment.
This may include specifying user profiles, security settings for the LMS, administrator roles, and course structures you will be using. It’s best to ask your vendor for a configuration checklist or sheet, so that you can find out about all of the various elements within the setup process that you may need to consider beforehand, as each LMS involves different protocols and procedures.
To use a real life example of that case, it is oftentimes the norm that clients approach us with their own set of questions and checklists to cover. This is a good first step no matter what; it shows you have studied and are even more eager to gather information to complete your research.
A common practice with prospective clients, since we always have a little more insight when it comes to the LMS, is to suggest ways in which we can make the implementation easier; for example: we can suggest ways in which features can be used to make the project manager’s life easier and the LMS implementation faster and more intuitive (e.g. ways to create automated notifications to make managing users easier.)
We consult clients on a multitude of different topics and range of software proficiency; you can contact us at any time via our contact us page (TalentLMS).
5. What are your expectations and goals for the new LMS?
In order to ensure that you get the most benefit out of your new LMS, have a clearly defined list of expectations and goals in place beforehand. Include any organizational concerns that the eLearning management system should address and objectives that you hope to achieve via the platform.
This can allow you to focus on areas of the LMS that are higher in priority and ensure that the learning management system is fulfilling its primary purposes. After all, an LMS can be a sizable investment, and you’ll want to be sure that it is carrying out the initiatives (realistic initiatives, that is) that prompted you to purchase the software in the first place.
Because each company or organization are fundamentally different in regard to their scope of operations and ways they want to use the LMS, it’s always important to address the ways they specifically see the future post-LMS implementation.
By collectively drawing a map and a trail from where we are and where we want to get, the relationship between vendor and client strengthens while both gain mutual understanding of how the LMS can support the functions the clients needs it for, while assisting eLearning development as a whole.
Note: It’s good to always remember that eLearning is still a growing segment of education. Although it has been around since the 80s, as an industry it is still in its infancy stage; as such the different needs of clients are always a good spark for development and growth.
6. Having a team, having the content.
As mentioned above, it is important that the members that comprise the LMS implementation team are focused and have a clear understanding of the goals for the project. Having said that, in the case of a modern cloud-based LMS, operations may be easier to conceive – with a more gradual learning curve.
Specifically, TalentLMS has been designed with the end-user in mind being someone who doesn’t have to be very technically proficient, so long as they are willing to invest some time to master the ins and outs of an otherwise easy-to-use platform.
You know what they say: “content is king”, and the same can be said for eLearning content that you will be inputting into your new system. For testing purpose, ensure that you have a good amount of content on-hand, so that you can ensure the system is going to serve its primary purpose.
As your LMS evolves, you’ll want to have a steady stream of content available, given that a good learning management system is nothing without high quality information and data. If you don’t already have a content creation team, then you’ll want to find a content developer who can curate and mange the data within your new LMS.
7. Communication is essential
Each department within your organization should have a hand in the content that is being integrated into your LMS. For example, the Human Resources department should be offering feedback for the new employee training data, and the IT department should be able to provide input regarding the implementation process itself.
Every member of your staff who will be either using or benefiting from the new LMS should have the opportunity to take part in the LMS deployment. This will not only help every department to offer the most accurate and in depth information to the end user, but allow the LMS implementation to run more smoothly.
Ultimately, this will enable your organization to more effectively achieve its overall goals. In TalentLMS we use a knowledge base of helpful articles, tutorial videos, our support page and blog to keep in touch with our clients and adapt to the needs of our users which grow alongside the platform. Communication is an essential tool both between learners, learners and teachers, as well as administrators and developers in order to drive change where and when it’s needed the most.
8. Migrate your existing LMS data and information
If you already have an LMS in place, then you will need to migrate the data to your new LMS. This must be done in a particular order, so you’ll want to involve both the IT techs from your organization and those from the LMS vendor, in order to ensure that it goes as smoothly as possible. In many cases, you’ll only want to move the LMS data that you absolutely need. Don’t forget to also migrate your user information and profiles, courseware, the course data, and transcript data.
In TalentLMS, migrating from other learning management systems is achieved due to the integration of other systems and protocols within TalentLMS. With SCORM (1.2), TinCan, and the clever export/import capabilities of TalentLMS, the migration of content and information accumulated over the years is no longer a hassle.
9. LMS implementation best practices
As you unroll your new LMS, you should plan on there being a bit of a “learning curve”. There are going to be some nuances of the system that you are going to need to become familiar with, just as there are going to be a few hiccups along the way. Therefore, don’t waste valuable time getting absolutely everything ready beforehand. Keep your initial LMS implementation as simple as possible, and then add on to it as you slowly but surely get used to the new system.
You can grow its capacity over time, as well as its functionality. For the time being, simply focus on creating a user-friendly interface and high quality content that everyone can benefit from. Using the unlimited trial of TalentLMS to conduct extensive trials is a no-brainer; not only can you learn the platform, but you have a unique opportunity to learn how to create content, and how to make sure that the process comes easy in the future, too.
As they say “practice makes perfect”, and that’s the best advice we can give. In doing so, you get to practice creating content on the actual platform, and with a 5 course lead on the FREE plan, you can simply create a substantial content pool before going live. In the case of eFront, prospective clients have access to the Open Source version of the LMS in order to perform extensive testing before committing to any paid subscriptions.
10. Don’t forget to test your new LMS before it goes live
You’ll want to verify that the LMS works properly by performing a user acceptance test. In this instance, you will act as though you are the user, and will carry out a variety of tasks within the system to ensure that everything goes according to plan. To carry this out more efficiently, you may want to write down all of the functions and processes that will typically be performed within the system by the user and assign a team to test out these specific functions. Ask for their feedback and have them record any glitches that they come across during the test.
So you’ve got a team in place, you have a timeline and a plan, your expectations of the LMS have been figured out, everyone has a role assigned to make for a smooth workflow, communication is clear and solid, content is being prepared and tests are being done. When the boxes have been ticked and you feel that everything in your control has been done, it’s show time!
Make sure that there are people taking care of end-user concerns and issues that crop-up, and make sure that you follow the LMS implementation strategy.
What steps did you follow in properly implementing a learning management system in your company or organization? Got tips we didn’t cover? Let us know by leaving a comment below!