Thomas J. Watson, who served as IBM’s chairman and CEO and oversaw the company’s growth as an international behemoth from 1914 to 1954, was the source for this gem on employee development:
“Recently, I was asked if I was going to fire an employee who made a mistake that cost the company $600,000. No, I replied. I just spent $600,000 training him. Why would I want somebody to hire his experience?”
Fortunately, companies don’t need to lose more than half a million dollars just so a hired hand will learn a literally valuable lesson. With proper training, employees should be able to become more efficient than ever and further develop their skills, knowledge, and, ultimately their careers.
Of course, training people will still need budget allocation, but done right, it is money well spent. After all, a company is only as good as its employees. Akio Morita, the co-founder of Sony Corporation, put this fact succinctly when he said, “No matter how good or successful you are or how clever or crafty, your business and its future are in the hands of the people you hire.”
While there may be several ways to help employees improve on their craft, one of the most popular and effective is via eLearning courses that employees can choose themselves and take at their own time and pace, which avoids disruption of their productivity during office hours.
Online learning, for its part, depends entirely on an effective learning management system, the essential tool that helps eLearning professionals create, deploy, and maintain online courses. And with so many LMSs available on the eLearning market nowadays, it becomes a task just choosing the best one to use to train employees. Do you go for the most popular, the least expensive, or the one that fits your company’s needs like a glove?
The first step to effectively answer the question is to set learning objectives and goals. What is it that you want to achieve through eLearning?
Once you have a clear view of the direction you want to take, compare the top learning management software, and then see to it that you get the following vital information from your shortlisted vendors (at least three to four). This will ensure that you will be buying the LMS best suited for your employees’ training needs, and the one that can grow alongside your company.
Successful vendors tend to be those who have been in operation for some time. It is also a great gauge of the quality of their products and services. They wouldn’t be able to stay long in the business if they can’t offer a reliable product.
A List of Their Customers
If this is not possible since vendors might be compelled to keep their customer information to themselves because of legal or privacy reasons, what you need to be sure of is that the vendor has dealt with similar needs that you have in the past. If no customer information can be given, you can ask instead for some successful use cases and for what industry the vendor’s LMS is to be used.
Ability to Adapt
Does the vendor update its product as frequently as possible? If the answer is yes, that means they value feedback from the customers and are open to market changes. This is a good insurance that the LMS you will use is not apt to become obsolete and useless in just a few years.
Generally, LMS vendors cater to any of these four price structures: pay per learner, pay per user, pay per course, and pay per licensing. You also need to know if there are separate costs for setup, training, support, and services, as well as for additional software. There might also be long-term fees or even discounts.
Knowing beforehand how the LMS will be implemented is important for it to succeed for your company. This is why it’s important to make sure you ask for detailed information for you to review thoroughly. This way, you can see if there are gaps that need to be addressed before the system goes live. This will also allow you to set a timetable for its setup and learn what things are needed to get it going, as well as determine if the existing applications you already have will be compatible or not so you can make the necessary adjustments.
As is usually the case, the vendor will provide training for your learning and development team so they can get a good understanding of the LMS and effectively answer questions once the online training starts for employees.
It is important then to confirm what learning materials will be provided, and for how long you can have access to them. Additionally, you should also have an idea of how many people are allowed to participate in the training sessions.
Finally, you must have a clear understanding of what the vendor’s responsibility is when it comes to issues that may crop up during use of the LMS. Will there also be additional costs if you would need customer and tech support? This will also be the best time to ask the vendor if the data collected and stored in the LMS can be retrieved in a format that can be read and digested by other systems. This will ensure that the information will be still usable even if in the future you decide to use another LMS.
Getting the right and complete information on prospective LMSs will help you decide on the best system to use that will create the ideal eLearning experience for your employees and help them become even more effective as key contributors to your organization’s success.
About the Author
Erika is a marketing specialist for Betterbuys.com. Better Buys has become a trusted authority for delivering unbiased, expert insights on the software and technology that businesses rely on. You can follow the company at @Better_Buys