Halloween Special: LMS Horror Stories (to avoid)


Ripping up a white sheet into strips of cloths in an effort to make a ‘mummy’ costume for my kid’s Halloween party has been super fun! My 5-year old and I took turns to cut, tear and tug at the big bedsheet until we had a huge pile of, well, a “mess”! While this mess is Halloween gold for me and my son (only until today EOD!), a mess (up) on something as critical as an LMS can make or break your L&D success.So in the spirit of Halloween (Happy Halloween, peeps!), I revisit some LMS horror stories – stories that will give you goosebumps just imagining them and some that will help you drive those uncertainty ghosts away by being better informed and prepared. Here goes…

Horror Story 1: The Hidden Cost Surprise (or Shock!)

Far too often businesses fall into the ‘low/ no cost’ trap when it comes to selecting a Learning Management System. Case in point – the Open Source (and hence “Free”) LMSs which have mushroomed over the years and offer a host of functionalities and features. While the idea of saving money with an open-source LMS is great in theory, in practice it falls short of expectations. Why? Because open source software systems (like Moodle) may be free at a tangible expense level, but they need to be set up, customized (to your branding/ workflow/ processes, etc.) and cranked up to work as expected – all at the organization’s own steam, costing time and money both! So if the organization implementing the LMS is not aware and careful of this, it could lead to, to say the least, some seriously unpleasant scenarios. Learn about the Real Cost of an Open Source LMS.

Horror Story 2: Giving the Sandbox Experience a Miss

Whether you are a first-time LMS user or an LMS veteran looking to switch over to a new one, it’s best to ‘try out’ the new software before investing in it for the long term. One way of approaching this is to ask for a demo from the vendor. Great move! But as we all know far too well, to see is one but to do it oneself is a whole different story. So even with the detailed walkthrough that you may have had of the LMS in question, you wouldn’t actually know the system’s nitty-gritties, which could turn into a nightmare for you ever-so-quickly as you struggle to move from one screen to another (please note that this has nothing to do with the usability of the system but the system’s unfamiliarity) while presenting to your management for that much-needed buy-in or, worse still, your end users! Here’s what you need to keep in mind to get the most out of your LMS Free Trial.

Horror Story 3: Not Disclosing your Requirements to the LMS Vendor Upfront

As one of the LMS vendors ourselves, we have found that a few (well, more than a few actually!) customers make assumptions that the vendor would take care of all “assumed” requirements automatically and that they are obvious. However, this can later lead to unacceptable situations which delay or hinder the implementation of the LMS. So go through the process of scoping and describing your requirements elaborately pertaining to modifying workflows, expectations from MIS reports (format, structure), automated email notifications (templates, protocols, etc.), the initial data set to be loaded, etc. This exercise may take time and effort initially but eventually makes the whole experience hassle-free.

Horror Story 4: Thinking UX is a Good-to-have

So you selected an LMS with a comprehensive feature set, some bells here and some whistles there, and with a relatively meh Usability and UX factor only to discover later the real reason for low user adoption and low sticky-ness to the platform. Tsk tsk! As per a Brandon Hall Group survey, 44% of companies were considering to replace their Learning Management System, with nearly 90% of those companies wanting to boost their User Experience (UX). If these companies eventually switched to a better LMS or not is a different story, however the large percent pointing to the dissatisfaction with the LMS UX cannot be missed. The UX is synonymous to a user’s happiness and is not just about the usability; it is influenced by three main factors: System, User and the Context of Use. Learn how you can Select a Learning Management System from the UX Perspective and avoid a similar horror story for yourself.

Horror Story 5: Forgetting the Future

As important as it is to have the (potential) LMS vendor in the know of all your current requirements (refer to Horror Story #3), it’s equally critical to be open about your future plans; be it scalability - in terms of your user-base or integration capabilities or flexibility to accommodate new technologies. Consider all of your LMS options from a future-proofing perspective and then examine every feature and functionality from that lens. Which is where an LMS with lifetime upgrades (most good vendors – including us - have this as a part of their base plan) is the best bet. You can be assured of a system that’s in sync with the times and trends, while keeping you a step ahead of the rest.So, right there is a true account of LMS horror stories as heard from our prospects and friends. While an LMS can and should be a treat to you and your organizational L&D, let it not trick you into an unpleasant situation! Wish you a spooky Halloween! :)