Wednesday, 10 July 2013

You don't need support for your LMS...

Carrying on the latest series of blogs on framing a positive in a negative, I thought I'd compile all the reasons why you really don't need support with your Learning Management System or LMS.  After all some people buy a car and fix it themselves don't they?  You can do your own car service, your own basic fault finding, even checking out before you buy, you can do it all!  Fact of the matter is I have - and I've managed to get transmission and lubrication oil confused, ended up with more spare parts than when I started, paid someone else a lot more money afterwards to fix my mess up and still managed to buy lemons (don't ask me how long my latest car lasted!)... of course that's me and one car for personal use.  If my car was a super-highway learning system with thousands of users of course...

You know it all.  Probably the most common reason for never requiring help in the minefield world of learning systems is that you already know everything about just about everything.  Not just L&D, or elearning but the whole everything about the particular LMS you've gone for.  If I knew everything I simply would not need anyone's help or support ever.  Pat yourself on the back and remember how much your rock :)

The system is fool proof.  I almost don't need an explanation here; just remember to never underestimate the ingenuity of fools when claiming something to be fool proof.  If there's a way to mess with your system someone will find a way and it really helps if someone is on your side with a clue about how to help.  Of course if point one applies as well you're sorted :)

The system manages itself.  See the above point.  An LMS is a system to help you to manage learning, if it was fully automated it would be called Bob, Steve or Jill and wear snappy clothes to work.  Any system that has a level of automation to it also has a level of human input too - in an LMS that level is high if you want to get the most out of the system.

I have a great system's administrator! That's great you are very lucky and they are worth their weight in gold so value them.  At some point in the future when they decide to leave you may want to revisit your support options (especially when you get very little or no notice and their replacement isn't quite so good in the system.  Even if you are lucky enough to have resources to succession plan you may find skill-fade and other issues that mean your administrators need to sharpen the sword just like everyone else.

We've had a bit of training and used the help.  A great place to start; a bit like being taught maths in high-school and applying it ten years later to complex algebra without your BFF (smart maths geek) next to you any more.  Unless you're practicing all the time you can expect some level of skill fade and since very few users use an LMS to its full extent you will be limiting what you can get out of the system to what you know on day one... at best.

I'll use the online support forums thanks.  Again you deserve some level of congratulations for buying or using a system (like Totara or Moodle) with a great support community and forums etc.  I think this is a great way ahead for you and sometimes you get great advice.  But it's very similar to relying on Wikipedia for the absolute truth.  Anyone offering advice is just trying to help; that can be great or they can lead you off on rabbit holes that can waste enormous amounts of time and effort - not to mention potential costs if they suggest customisations that aren't necessary.

I'm not the owner.  Ah yes, we bought in a system but it's not ours, it belongs to IT or someone else we just try and use it.  The major issue with an LMS is often ownership... someone needs to take ownership (with a learning function please) and they need help and support.  Otherwise it will be another IT system that gets infrequent use or niche use only and never expands across the organisation.

We just want to use the core functionality.  Assuming the second and third points are pretty much okay you're probably okay if you never want to get the most out of your learning (and LMS) for your organisation.

We bought per user licensing - I think we're covered!  Firstly my condolences on buying a system on that old model (anyone for a more Open solution?).  Secondly you need to understand where and what your money is going on; usually very little (if any) is on support beyond simple how-to functions.

Of course if you tick all of the above you really only worry about something else because learning is clearly taken care of in your organisation!  Finally if no-one is servicing your fleet of vehicles and no-one is helping maintain them, don't be too surprised if one day you get let down... and then it happens again... and again... public transport is always an option.