10 Questions to Ask Your LMS Vendor

Implementing your initial learning management system — or transitioning to a new LMS — is a  significant project.

It will set the course for your training program for years to come.

Before choosing a new LMS, be sure to find out the answers to these 10 questions.

1. Does your LMS have the features I need?

The list of must-have features varies by organization. Think about your workflows, the environment in which your admins and learners will use the LMS and which features you really need: Customization for different groups of learners? Personalized learning plans? Third-party content libraries? Built-in content creation studio? Integration with webinar platforms? Ask LMS vendors about these features.

Don’t get distracted by their laundry list of features you won’t ever use; keep your LMS search grounded in your workflows, your environment, and what your learners and admins need to use every day to succeed.

2. What will make my learners love your LMS?

Group of 6 diverse people cropped in white boxes, making a heart shape with their hands.

Finding content and completing training in an LMS should be easy — even fun — for learners. Your learners have unique needs. Maybe they need quick access to specific content or a quick way to check upcoming deadlines. Maybe they need at-a-glance status updates on what courses they are enrolled in, how far they’ve come, and how much training they have left to do.

Whatever it is your learners need, your LMS should provide it with customized home pages designed to suit your learners in your environment following your workflows.

Ask LMS vendors how they tailor the LMS for your learners — beyond your logo in the corner and your corporate colors. Ask them why your learners will love their platform.

3. How easily can I create & deploy content using your LMS?

Ask vendors whether their LMS includes an easy-to-use content creation feature. Can you quickly create multimedia content, including video with narration, animations, and games, add in PDFs and eBooks, and offer quizzes — all without purchasing or using additional tools? Also, ask how easily you can add your existing content or third-party content to the LMS.

Find out how quickly you can update content and deliver new material to learners and whether they’re automatically enrolled in new versions of courses they need for certifications and to meet licensing requirements.

4. Will your LMS keep my content and learner data secure?

You collect learner data for essential purposes — but learners rightly want to know that their personal information is secure. At the same time, managers need to be able to track their direct reports’ progress, and teams need to collaborate and share information. 

Your LMS should allow you to create reports for each manager, showing their employees’ engagement and progress. You should be able to restrict access to sensitive records and control who can see what. Your LMS should also allow learners to collaborate with peers and teammates, sharing learning materials, comparing progress, and helping one another out.

Ask LMS vendors whether you can control permission to reports, test scores, and other learner records — and how you can ensure that course content and learner data are used only for their intended purposes.

Security goes beyond access to data: You also want to be sure that data backups occur seamlessly and securely. Ask your vendor how it secures and backs up your data and whether hosting and storage facilities comply with industry security standards.

5. How much of my training administration can I automate?

Series of androids sitting at laptops, typing and wearing headsets.

Training administration takes up an enormous amount of your L&D team’s time and energy. Your LMS should help out here by automating enrollments, sending notices to learners when they need to do training or have a certification that’s about to expire, and generating regular reports for managers.

Ask LMS vendors how much user data and course content you can import automatically, error-free and without onerous customization and tweaking. 

6. How does your pricing scale as my organization and needs grow?

You want to know what you’re paying for your new LMS — and how that will change in the future as you add learners, add content, or both. Ask LMS vendors whether they charge by the learner and how that changes as your company grows. 

Be sure to ask what’s included and what you’ll need to pay extra for. Consider whether you’ll be paying a hefty price tag for features you are unlikely to use — or paying extra for essentials. It’s especially important to know how much implementation assistance and ongoing support is included in the cost so you don’t get any unpleasant surprises. 

7. What types of reports and data visualizations can I create?

Showing that learners are making progress is essential; it’s why your LMS exists! You’ve also got to be able to show auditors that learners have completed the required training and passed their certification exams. 

Ask vendors what types of learner progress and performance data their LMS collects and how your admins can customize reports and generate them automatically. 

Ask about features that allow admins to easily create clear data visualizations to show executives the value of the training and the LMS. Does the LMS integrate with BI tools, such as PowerBI? These make correlating training data with critical business KPIs easy and enable training admins to show executives exactly how effective their learning initiatives are.

Finally, if you are delivering compliance training, ensure that you are able to satisfy the compliance auditors with effective reporting and analytics.

8. How will you support us, both before and after the launch?

Ask potential LMS suppliers how they will support you, from implementation planning through deployment, and — crucially — after the launch. How long will you wait for a resolution if you need assistance or experience an incident? 

You don’t need to know how quickly they answer the phone or reply to your email, but how soon you can expect results. And find out about emergency resolution and availability of the support team. Anything less than 24x7x365 emergency response, by an actual human who knows your system inside and out, is simply unacceptable.  

Your LMS vendor should support you in other ways, too, such as providing comprehensive implementation services, administrator training on deploying and using the LMS — and the vendor should offer tutorials and help for your admins for the lifetime of your relationship. Also, ask to see their online help system to see how comprehensive it is. If the vendor doesn’t deliver training using their own platform, ask why. That could be a huge red flag!

9. Will your LMS integrate with the rest of my ecosystem?

Close-up of a group of hands bringing six puzzle pieces together, glowing where the sides of each touch.

Features like single-sign-on (SSO) and integration with eCommerce, HRIS, data warehouses, and webinar or virtual classroom platforms are more than just buzzwords. For your LMS to pull its weight as a member of your eLearning ecosystem, it has to integrate with other essential components.

You’ll want to automate as much administration as possible, so you will want to have a user sync from your HRIS or talent management system, plus custom integrations to other applications to prevent having to manually update multiple systems.

Ask vendors about integrations with all the elements of your training and talent management ecosystem.

10. How will your LMS feature set grow to support my future needs?

You’re not buying an LMS for short-term use; you need to know that it will meet your needs well into the future. The only hitch is, you can’t really predict the future.

Your LMS vendor can anticipate future trends and technologies, though, and build their product to easily grow and evolve. Find out how often the LMS vendor releases updates and whether it adds features in response to client requests. Ask about planned upgrades and what new features are already in the pipeline.

In addition to keeping up with the latest eLearning technologies and developments, your LMS needs to be able to keep up with you as you grow.

Choosing an LMS means entering a long-term relationship with the LMS vendor. Choose a company that will support you from the moment you meet and throughout your planning, launch, and use of their platform. Choose a platform that meets your needs now and will grow with you. And of course, choose the platform that will provide the most enjoyable and friction-free learning experience for your employees. Talk to a SmarterU expert today.

10 questions to ask your LMS vendor infographic

Before you buy, as you start shopping for your new or next LMS vendor, make sure you ask your LMS vendor these 10 essential questions.

Download a PDF version of our 10 questions to ask your LMS vendor infographic

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10 Questions to Ask Your LMS Vendor - Before choosing a new LMS, find out the answers to these 10 questions - SmarterU LMS

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