You’ve done your research, identified your organization’s needs, vetted LMS vendors, and negotiated the best price. Νow 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 it, you’ll have to know how to effectively run and integrate it into your organizational structure.
So, how do you know where to start? And how can you streamline and simplify the implementation process? What you need is an LMS implementation project plan.
To help you with that, we’ve created an LMS implementation checklist that guides you through the deployment process. We’ll be focusing on small to medium organizations, consisting of 1-500 people.
The must-follow project plan for your LMS implementation
Think of this guide as an LMS rollout plan template that provides all the important milestones you need to meet when implementing your LMS. All you need to do is tick each step off your checklist once you’re done with it.
1. Prepare your LMS implementation process and strategy
You’re probably thinking that once you buy a Learning Management System and finalize the contracts with your vendor, it’s time to start designing your LMS implementation plan. The truth is the earlier you start, the better. In fact, you should start before you’ve even bought your training platform.
Start formulating your LMS implementation plan well in advance. This will allow you to get the right team members on board, identify missing steps, and deploy the LMS without (many) surprises. The prep time you’ll need depends on your specific training and business needs, the expertise you have, but mainly on the platform. For example, an easy to set up and easy-to-use LMS will have a faster implementation.
2. Gather your team for LMS deployment and administration
You’ll need to have a small group of people working on the LMS implementation plan. Depending on the scale of the LMS deployment, you will need 5 to 6 people to oversee the administration, technical support, and content management.
You may also want to appoint one person to act as the team leader, and another one to create a training strategy once the new system has been installed and tested. This team may also include those who help out as advisers on an occasional basis, such as frequent LMS users or content creators.
A small to medium organization usually has 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. This way, each person has access to everything they need to monitor; whether that is reports, content management, administrative rights, or moderation of assignments.
Another option is to assign a person from each branch to be responsible for a segment of the LMS (e.g., a department or location), or simply to monitor some specific information over that branch. Appointing responsibilities this way makes more sense when you don’t want managers (or anyone involved in training) to have universal access to the courses.
3. Create a timeline for LMS implementation
Your LMS implementation project plan needs, like all projects do, a timeline. After you’ve put the right people in your team, create a realistic timeline that details when certain tasks need to be carried out. Leave sufficient time in the schedule for the LMS implementation itself, and for problem-solving.
For example, if an issue arises when you’re trying to migrate data, you may need extra time to solve the problem and finish this task. It’s best to always leave room to correct glitches or address mishaps that may occur during LMS deployment.
Like any project, time can make or break the efforts of the team. You’ll need two things to help your teamwork in a collaborative environment:
- 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
Take your time to try out the LMS before deciding what fits you 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.
Two factors come into play:
- Make sure you dedicate enough time to identifying your training needs. This will guide you towards more suitable LMS options.
- It’s important that your trial is not limited, so you have the time to properly assess whether or not it suits your specific needs. Committing to an LMS that “almost” did it for you will end up being more costly.
*Tip: Ask questions! When a feature you’re interested in is not available, make sure that you do your research and follow up on that. Perhaps more buyers are also interested in the same feature, and your requests could motivate the LMS vendor to add it. Your input is always appreciated in a market so fresh and people-centered.
4. Ensure your LMS implementation project plan works for your business needs
Your training software implementation plan should be fluid and flexible, in that it will probably need to evolve over time. You should be able to have a Learning Management System implementation timeline in place. Create a list of all of the tasks that need to be wrapped up during the process.
You should also have access to all the necessary LMS configuration information. This may include specifying user profiles, security settings for the LMS, administrator roles, and course structures you will be using. Each LMS involves different protocols and procedures. So, it’s best to ask your vendor for help concerning the various setup elements that you may need to consider beforehand.
To use a real-life example of that case, clients often 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 is to suggest ways in which we can make the implementation easier. For example, we can recommend the features that will make the project manager’s life easier and the LMS implementation faster and more intuitive. We consult clients on a multitude of different topics and a wide range of software proficiency. You can reach out at any time through our contact us page.
5. Define your expectations and goals for the new LMS
Another component of a successful LMS implementation project plan is to have a clearly defined list of expectations and goals beforehand. Include any organizational concerns that the online training platform should address and objectives that you hope to achieve.
This will allow you to focus on areas of the LMS that are higher in priority and ensure that the platform is fulfilling its primary purposes. After all, an LMS can be a sizable investment. Therefore, you want to be sure that it’s meeting the requirements that prompted you to purchase it in the first place.
Each company is different in its operations and the ways they want to use the LMS. So it’s always important to address the ways you specifically see the future post-LMS deployment.
By collectively drawing a map and a trail from where you are to where you want to get, the relationship between vendor and client strengthens. At the same time, you’ll both gain a mutual understanding of how the LMS can support your training needs while assisting eLearning development as a whole.
6. Invest in high-quality eLearning content
You know what they say: content is king. The same is true for the eLearning content that you’ll be adding to your new system. During testing, make sure you have a good amount of content at hand, and see how learners interact with and respond to it.
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 manage the data within your new LMS.
You could also check whether your LMS comes with a library of ready-made courses. Off-the-shelf training content will save you time, as you won’t have to research and create it from scratch. Plus, it’ll be instantly available for employees as they log into the platform.
7. Establish clear communication lines
The “LMS project” is huge. Each department within your organization should have a hand in the content that’s being integrated into your LMS. For example, the HR department should be able to offer feedback for the new employee training data. Likewise, the IT department should be able to provide input regarding the implementation process itself.
Every member of your staff who’ll be using or benefiting from the new LMS should take part in the LMS implementation process. This won’t only help to offer the most accurate and in-depth information to the end-user, but it’ll also allow the process to run more smoothly.
Ultimately, your organization will be able to roll out successful training programs.
But communication shouldn’t stop in the LMS implementation phase. Make sure that learners, instructors, and admins will be able to find answers to their technical issues as quickly as possible. Most LMS vendors maintain a knowledge base of helpful articles and tutorial videos that cover the most common topics.
8. Migrate your existing LMS data and information
Data migration is next in your LMS implementation checklist. If you already have an LMS in place, then you will need to migrate the data to your new LMS. For this, you’ll want to involve your IT team and the LMS vendor, to ensure the migration goes smoothly. Don’t forget to migrate user information and profiles, courseware, course data, and transcript data.
When choosing your LMS, keep an eye out for vendors that are SCORM and xAPI-compatible. The integration with other systems and protocols will allow you to migrate content you’ve accumulated over the years with no hassle.
9. Don’t be impatient
As you unroll your new LMS, you should leave room for the inevitable learning curve. There are going to be some nuances of the system you won’t be familiar with, just as there are going to be a few hiccups along the way. Don’t waste valuable time getting absolutely everything ready beforehand. Keep your LMS implementation project plan as simple as possible. You can add to it as you get used to the new system.
You can grow the LMS functionality over time. For now, focus on creating a user-friendly interface and high-quality content that everyone can benefit from. Make the most out of an unlimited free trial to learn as much as you can.
Besides getting to know the platform, learn how to create content, and experiment with features and instructional design methods, so the process comes easier in the future.
10. Don’t forget to test your new LMS before it goes live
Make sure that there are people taking care of end-user concerns and issues that crop up, and that you follow the LMS implementation project plan closely. Verify that the LMS works properly by performing a user acceptance test. In this case, you will act as though you’re the user, and 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. Next, 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. Find out if the LMS is indeed user-friendly and can be used even by less tech-savvy employees.
Time for implementation
So you’ve got a team in place, you have a timeline and a plan, your expectations of the LMS have been figured out, and 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.
One thing that’s left is to introduce your new training program to your employees and create excitement before the launch.
When the boxes have been ticked and you feel that everything in your control has been done, it’s showtime!
Originally published on: 17 May 2019 | Tags: LMS Implementation