By Craig Maurer, Director of Client Services, Expertus
While there’s a lot of time and money spent on finding the best LMS for an organization, companies often skimp on their implementation due diligence. This is a huge mistake!
Even if you find the perfect LMS, one that’s loaded with modern features and the flexibility to match your company’s exact needs…if it’s not properly implemented, it won’t deliver. You could also end up with a very costly implementation that drags on for months.
1. Find a Strong Sponsor
The most important thing you can do to ensure LMS implementation success is finding a strong, passionate sponsor. If someone within your organization doesn’t own your new LMS solution, it will die a fast death! Your lead sponsor must also set clear strategic goals and make decisions. Beware of setting goals that take into consideration only a small portion of the needs for your overall organization. Adoption will quickly falter in other groups who feel they have limited input and ownership. Also, consider establishing a steering committee comprised of department-based LMS owners within sales, HR, business units, extended enterprise, etc. This enables your lead sponsor to make sure departments’ specific needs are being met and helps to quickly resolve conflicts.
2. Know Your Needs & Audiences
You know the expression…“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”? Don’t wait until you start your implementation to define who will really be using this new solution and how it will benefit them.
Key questions to answer include:
- What are the various groups within the organization that have training needs, now and in the future?
- Who can represent the specific needs for each audience?
- How will members of each audience interact with training content? Will they be on mobile devices? Will they have limited access to the internet on a job site? Are they external to your company, and if so, what information will you know about these learners? Will some learners need to purchase the learning before consuming it?
- Are there job or role-related compliance requirements that need to be considered?
3. Create a Training Blueprint
In addition to setting clear strategic goals, you need to do a thorough analysis of what is done today and what are the requirements for learning in the near and long-term. Not knowing your “training blueprint” before you sign a contract will ensure that: A) The system you select will likely not be able to accommodate your detailed requirements; and B) Your implementation effort will be delayed for weeks as your project team tries to pull these details together.
Your pre-implementation training discovery process should ask these critical questions:
- What training programs do we have in place today?
- Are these trainings owned and created in-house or are they licensed from a third-party content vendor?
- Are the trainings delivered in a classroom setting, in a virtual learning environment or are they self-paced (web-based learning, videos, knowledge documents)?
- How are the training programs structured and tracked?
Understanding the organization-wide scope of courses and training needed by your company sets the groundwork for your LMS to meet those requirements—and significantly speeds/simplifies implementation.
4. Begin an Adoption Plan
Does your discovery effort show that some groups have ongoing training that cannot be interrupted for the next two quarters? Are some groups ready to move now, while others have budget constraints that will delay their entry?
You need to go at your LMS implementation with a clear idea of who is in scope, when they will be rolling onto the system and what they will be bringing when they come.
It may be a simple answer that all groups within your organization will be included within a single implementation project. However, you may find that the complexity of a phased rollout is unavoidable and needs to be addressed from the start.
A successful adoption plan must also include change management considerations for your audiences. How will you communicate the new solution and ensure your audiences know how (and are willing) to follow new processes. You won’t have this flushed out before you start, but it needs to be on the radar and included as a critical work stream for your implementation.
5. Prepare Your Governance Model
It’s important to note that LMS implementation is just a starting point. Organizations that don’t establish clear and concise rules of engagement for administration will quickly find that their new, beautiful LMS has become a jumbled mess of bad data full of ineffective and confusing interactions with target audiences.
So whether your learning department is centrally run by a group of administrators or it’s a federation of administration teams run by a set of rules, you need a governance model to drive consistency and ongoing success.
6. Be Flexible—New Is Good!
If you’re moving from a legacy system (behind a firewall) to a modern SaaS LMS, things will be different. From setting up courses…to establishing core processes…and everything in between.
You need to maintain an open mindset. Instead of trying to recreate what you’ve already done and how you used to do things, be flexible so you can evolve your processes and create a much more efficient, effective, and yes, powerful LMS solution for the future.
Image Credit: Pixabay