Wednesday, 21 August 2013

LMS for smaller organisations?

It's fine if you're a big corporate or a government agency or part of a global organisation to assume that a Learning Management System (LMS) is something you should have if you don't already have one.  But an LMS has typically been the tool for managing learning for mid-large organisations; what about organisations with less than 500 people, or even less than a 100?  Are there options or even needs for them?

The daft thing is that managing learning is less about the raw numbers of users on the system and more about your complexity, range and use of L&D, education and training in your organisation.  If your job functions require a diverse and involved degree of training or learning then managing via an LMS is a perfect addition to your organisation.  The problem often comes around the costs involved for small scale LMSs because of the initial start-up costs.

Cloud-based LMSs or multi-tenanting sites may just be your solution.  If you can pay and subscribe small numbers they are usually considerably cheaper than their full-blown counterparts.  The trick is finding a cloud based LMS that offers you the functionality that you need as many vendors give you a cut-down version that essentially is used for launching and tracking e-learning rather than a fully functional system.  As many (is there many of you?) of you know I work predominantly with Open Source LMSs Totara and Moodle, believe it or not both of these make good choices for small organisations but for different reasons and circumstances - as this blog is about LMS in general if you want to know more about those drop me a line...

The real key for me is about the management of learning (hey just look at the acronym) so if you want to make the most out of your LMS it needs to allow you to properly manage so choose something with a blended approach to also allow you to manage classroom bookings and off-site activities.  I also want some development planning, ability to bring in old stuff, upload 'things' such as old certs, run reports that I can have some input in to and ideally have it all still look like I paid more for it than I did.  Bonus features include the ability to stretch you such as competency based management, badges and full hierarchical controls, graphical outputs and a customisable menu are also desirable in your LMS.

...but actually if I had to put what makes a good LMS for small orgs in a simple sentence it would be; great looking, easy to use and packed full of functionality and reporting.  If you don't think you can afford that, you may just be looking in the wrong place.
Totara Cloud :)