Learning Management and the Swiss Army HR Suite

Is Your LMS at Risk in a Super-Sized HCM Platform?

By Ramesh Ramani, Founder and CEO, Expertus

Ramesh Ramani, CEO, Expertus

Ramesh Ramani,

If you’re like me, you’re curiously attracted to innovative gadgets – especially pocket-sized multi-tools. First, it was the familiar red Victorinox Swiss Army knife. Then Leatherman tools followed. Now countless other ingenious variations are available – even some the size of credit cards.

Each year, a slew of new options are introduced just in time for Christmas, and I find myself tempted to buy the latest, greatest designs. However, I resist. Not because I have too many of them. And not because they’re expensive. But because I realize that I simply won’t use them.

When I need to tighten a screw, I dig into my toolbox for my favorite screw driver. When I need to wrap a package, I grab the full-sized scissors from my desktop. Meanwhile, my Swiss Army knife gathers dust – tucked away in the corner of a drawer.

This actually reminds me of what’s happening in the talent management and learning technology space. After high-profile acquisitions involving LMS companies like Plateau, Learn.com and GeoLearning, some industry analysts are heralding the arrival of the all-in-one Human Capital Management (HCM) platform.

Without seeing sales figures for these “super-sized” HR-talent-learning suites, you might conclude that enterprise organizations are abandoning their dedicated LMS platforms in droves, hoping that the switch to all-in-one HCM will satisfy every need. But I’ve seen analyst data that suggests otherwise. And the behavior of our prospects and customers confirms that this just isn’t the case.

Swiss army knife and the all-in-one HCM platformWhy not? Essentially, for the same reason I hardly use my prized pocket knife. On one hand, it’s reassuring to know that it’s always available in a pinch, and that it promises a broad spectrum of functionality. On the other hand, it doesn’t perform exceptionally well in any capacity. And it certainly isn’t my “go to” choice for specific tasks.

Don’t get me wrong. We understand that all-in-one models are attractive, in theory. We often meet prospects who assume from the start that a “Swiss Army” suite would be ideal. But when they look more closely at their learning requirements, and consider the value that a highly adaptive, dynamic LMS can add to their HCM infrastructure, they usually recognize that a kitchen-sink solution demands too much compromise. Here are several reasons why:

1) Learning is Complex
On the surface, organizational learning may seem like a relatively simple and intuitive process – particularly in a networked environment. However, the practice of enterprise learning and performance support brings challenges that are unexpected by those from other operational areas, such as HR or IT. Representatives from those areas are often involved in purchasing integrated suites – but because they aren’t deeply familiar with learning needs, they’re likely to overlook critical decision criteria. This can be a costly mistake. We often see this after-the-fact, when customers seek us out to rework or replace an LMS that never fully delivered.

2) Learning is Specialized
It’s logical and legitimate to think of learning and development within the context of career progression and talent management. However, the ideal solution isn’t necessarily standardization on an all-in-one HCM suite. It’s naive, at best, to assume that any organization’s particular learning needs will be fully addressed by LMS technology that happens to be available within the “mother” suite. One size does not fit all. Would a surgeon select a Swiss Army blade over a scalpel? Success depends on matching the tools to the context at hand.

3) Learning Reaches Beyond Employees
Increasingly, enterprise organizations are grappling with how best to serve the learning needs of communities that exist outside traditional corporate boundaries – customers, channel partners and the contingent workforce. These learning experiences must be seamlessly integrated with internal information systems and business processes. However, HCM functions by definition focus on internal resources. Therefore, it’s risky to assume that all learning bases will be covered by an HCM suite. Instead, it’s essential to clarify how the LMS component will enable learning and knowledge-sharing across diverse internal and external global audiences.

Learning Management and the Conclusion
These are only a few of the reasons for corporate learning professionals to be cautious about embracing an integrated HCM. But these concerns are important. They point to the need for thoughtful discussion about learning requirements – and a thorough analysis of the fit with any “Swiss Army” suite.

Bottom-line: If your LMS is indispensible – in the same way that a good screwdriver often is for me – then you probably want a platform that is optimized for your organization’s unique learning requirements. Don’t just settle for one that is available when you can’t find the tool you really want.

If you’d like to discuss how this applies to your learning environment, we invite you to schedule a consultation or a demonstration of our award-winning dynamic cloud LMS, ExpertusONE.

Note from Ramesh: What are your thoughts about “Swiss Army Knife” HCM suites, and how LMS platforms should fit in? To learn more about how ExpertusONE stands out as a best-of-breed modern LMS, and yet fits into any enterprise HCM infrastructure, visit our website. Or contact us for a personalized demo.

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

One thought on “Learning Management and the Swiss Army HR Suite

  1. Ramesh – You bring up some very good points.

    I agree that from an HR and IT perspective an all-in-one model is appealing. Less work, easier to implement, and maybe pricing discounts.

    However, from a learning leader perspective delivering or facilitating learning experiences in the most favorable medium for the employee (I.e. mobile or in the work flow) and then aggregating/analyzing data about these learning experiences is a priority. This is often very low in the selection criteria from HR and IT.

    As you state, “a platform optimized for your organizations unique learning environment” is the critical piece, whether stand alone or integrated into an all-in-one HCM platform. I believe the Experience API new learning technology standard will give the LMS/LRS more flexibility to be in a stand-alone environment.

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