FAQs on Selecting the Right LMS for your SMB

FAQs on Selecting the Right LMS for your SMB

The last week was rather hectic, but exciting nonetheless, for me, as I finally presented my first webinar on LMS. *phew* Both the sessions (on 20th July and 21st July) were super successful as we delivered to a packed audience. As much as we had promised ourselves to take up audience questions in the 1-hour sessions, the time (or rather, the lack of it!) didn't permit us to do so.So, without fretting on what couldn't be done then, we thought of answering all the questions right here! Great, right?

For all of you who had joined us, and for those who hadn't, here are all the questions and answers from our webinar, LMS for SMBs – 9 Benefits, 9 Considerations, 9 Buying Tips. Here's the webinar recording.

1. What timelines (approximately) is one looking at for the LMS implementation process?

A: Assuming that you have already selected the LMS and assigned adequate resources, the implementation of an LMS (for a SaaS LMS, which is the fastest one possible today) can take anywhere from 3 to 4 weeks. The time involved is a factor of your needs definition as done in the Requirements Specification Document, how well-suited the LMS is to those requirements, and the knowledge and expertise of the personnel involved in the implementation process. Also, for LMS implementations involving integrations, there will be some iterations and you may need to do some testing before you even give it to a small group of people to test it out. So, 3-4 weeks is a reasonable amount of time to budget, but more integrations may take more time. Note: This maybe longer for custom LMSs.

2. Can I embed Excel sheets in your UpsideLMS?

A: UpsideLMS supports a variety of media types including but not limited to Powerpoint presentations, PDFs, HTML courses, Excel Sheets, Videos (streamed or otherwise), Word documents.

3. Is using a SaaS LMS a good strategy and option for small companies?

A: Be it small companies or medium-size companies or large enterprises, more than the system being SaaS, the fit of an LMS lies in how the system has been designed and also the experience, and expertise of the LMS provider. But for SMBs in particular, a SaaS LMS is a better bet due to its lower TCO, hosting and maintenance of server environment being handled by the vendor, and quick roll out readiness. Also, with the SaaS approach adding an inherent agility and quickness to the product development and improvement process, the LMS will always be in sync with the latest technologies and trends and adds more value on an ongoing basis. It also means that all these innovations will not cost you extra giving you more budget to spend on other training-linked solutions and activities (e.g. more content, etc.)

4. How can you support field based learning for Engineers in Utilities & Telco companies that have people working in shifts with limited internet access out of hours? Other LMS systems can't support this need. Scheduling of large remote workforces is a huge challenge in the EU & has to meet Work Council Rules on governance of learning.

A: It's a big challenge and there is no single way to handle that. It needs to be dealt with multiple pieces. One is by using offline mobile apps. These could be a native, hybrid or web. These apps allow learners to use the LMS (from any device of their choice, ideally) even when offline by downloading the training material(s) onto the device, which can be accessed anytime irrespective of Internet connectivity, when connected to the Internet. Also being offline doesn't mean that learner progress is lost – the system records all activities performed offline until an internet connection is made available and data synchronized.

5. Our company uses an HRMS and we need that data to be passed on to the LMS as soon as it's entered into the HRMS. Is this possible with an LMS?

A: Absolutely! Using certain APIs, the data from the HRMS can be fetched and pulled into the LMS in real-time. As we mentioned in the webinar too, the data exchange between the LMS and other third party systems can be done in real-time or at fixed interval(s) as a batch.

6. Given the sensitive nature of our company's data, is Cloud hosting safe?

A: These days most Cloud providers provide are extremely secure environments both at server and physical infrastructure levels. Further, some LMSs (like UpsideLMS) offer physical separation of DB for added security to the client's data.

7. Our company has 250 employees. Can a small company like ours benefit from Social Learning?

A: Social Learning and Knowledge Collaboration tools can benefit all companies irrespective of their size or type by providing a unique way to capture various types of knowledge that are prevalent in the enterprise and letting learners move beyond routine training into actual personal development. Users at different levels can communicate, share and learn from each other informally.

The only barrier to social learning could be your company policies if they prohibit employees from sharing and using social tools.

8. What budget should a small company with 50 LMS users plan for?

A: As we had mentioned in the webinar too, the LMSs available today are of varying ranges, with some open source ones claiming to be 'free' (which they aren't really). We had written about the real cost of an Open Source LMS in an earlier blog post. The budget should be a factor of how much your company is willing to invest at the that point in time and how much can it continue to put in towards its maintenance and renewal.

9. Can our legacy courses created in Flash be used for delivering on mobile devices?

A: Flash and most mobile devices aren't very friendly! That said, there are workarounds and browsers that allow you to view Flash content on an iPad, but it's not ideal and probably not sustainable either. Also, some tools are available that you can use to convert your existing Flash-based courseware to a mobile compatible format.

10. Our organization has many complex workflows related to training. Can an LMS have multiple workflows?

A: Yes, most LMSs today can be configured to reflect your organization's hierarchy with multiple learning workflows that are inline with that of your organization too. Further, workflow alignment can be done with roles of Line Manager, Training Manager, etc. as required.

11. Do I need a Responsive LMS or a Multi-device LMS?

12. What's the difference between Responsive LMS and Multi-device LMS?

A: Basics first. A Multi-device LMS is one that is accessible across a wide range of devices (and browsers and platforms), right from smartphones to desktops and tablets and everything in between. Responsive is a design approach which ensures that the LMS is visible in a consistent and seamless fashion across all these devices.

If your company follows a BYOD policy, you will need to account for all the devices used by your target audience to ensure that the learning experience for all learners is consistent. If your company will be providing mobile devices of a particular make to all employees, a Responsive LMS is probably what you shouldn't be looking for as an LMS that is compatible with the mobile device you would be delivering on should suffice your requirement.

If you have any more questions on this topic in particular or LMS in general, drop me a line in the comment box below or email me at pranjalee.lahri@upsidelms.com