First there were Learning Management Systems. Then prefixing them with SaaS, denoting their cloud-hosted infrastructure and on-demand-ness, became a necessity as their first generation counterparts made way for the new-age LMS complete with a future-proofed feature set and a truly user-centric platform that put the learner in the driver’s seat.

Today’s SaaS LMS is more than just a system for administering and managing employee training. It’s a tool that facilitates continuous learning, collaboration, communication between and amongst learners, peers, SMEs and seniors. But more than that, it’s a continuously evolving learning technology that’s underpinning the success of the knowledge economy.

Below are 25 must-have features in a SaaS LMS that will stand you in a good stead not just in 2023 but beyond too:

1.AI/ Recommendation Engine

2.Virtual Training/ VILT

3.Instructor Led Training/ Classroom Training

4.Mobile Apps

5.Blended Learning

6.Gamification

7.Compliance Training

8.Extended Enterprise Training

9.Reporting & Analytics

10.APIs and Integration

11.Competency Management

12.Social Learning & Knowledge Collaboration

13.Continuing Professional Development

14.Support for Training Content

15.eCommerce

16.Multi-lingual Support

17.Standards Compliance

18.Data Security & Privacy

19.Branding &Whitelabeling

20.Organization Structure Management

21.Role Management

22.Certification

23.Responsive/ Mobile-optimized Interface

24.User-first UI and enhanced UX

25.Single Sign On (SSO)

1.AI/ Recommendation Engine

Assigning training as per job role, profile or level is now passé. With Artificial Intelligence making its presence felt in every area of our work and personal life, AI-powered Learning Management Systems are no longer good-to-have, but are a must-have for businesses of all types and sizes. Relevant content is suggested to the learners automatically as the LMS constantly gathers intelligence from user behaviors, skill-sets and information pieces across the board to produce a rich pool of related content and deep search results.

2.Virtual Training/ VILT

With Classroom Training programs being cancelled across industries and countries in light of COVID-19, for businesses with traditional L&D, migrating to Virtual Instructor Led Training (VILT) has been the best bet. An LMS with ready connectors for popular virtual networking services like Zoom, WebEx, GoToMeeting etc. enable your learners and instructors to connect and interact with each other in real-time. It not only increases the reach of the training at a lower cost but, by enabling learners and instructors to collaborate, it makes the learning process interesting and enriching for the learners.

3.Instructor Led Training/ Classroom Training

No matter how much technology disrupts our life for good, some things are best suited to traditional approaches. One such is Instructor Led Training (ILT) or Classroom Training. ILT is one of the best learning modes, to learn from industry veterans and experts. The instructor’s knowledge of the subject matter helps individuals or groups understand the topic in greater detail. With such expert level of guidance and approach, ILT becomes more focused towards a clear learning objective, and when coupled with real-time assessments (quizzes or Q&A), it practically guarantees fulfillment of these objectives in a timely manner. Most modern LMSes offer a comprehensive ILT module complete with training scheduling, nomination workflows, venue and vendor management, batch management and training costs management. Here are 5 reasons you still need Classroom Training in your L&D mix.

4.Mobile Apps

Most organizations have a dispersed workforce, which becomes an obstacle when it comes to delivering relevant training materials to different geographies. An LMS makes this task less daunting and provides ‘anytime-anywhere’ learning through mobile apps that deliver the content to learners ‘just in time’. With telecom networks getting stronger and the advent of 3G and 4G networks, businesses are incorporating mobile devices into their learning mix for boosting Employee Productivity and providing Performance Support.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geOVfBeD2NA

5.Blended Learning

Variety is the spice of life, goes the adage. However, it’s not just the variety, it’s the diversity of preferences we exhibit that make Blended Learning a necessity for employee capability development. A learning platform with support for different training modalities (eLearning, Virtual Classroom), full multimedia support (Videos, PDFs, PPTs, Documents, HTML courses) and standards-compliance (SCORM, AICC) helps you accommodate your learners’ learning styles and get more bang for your buck. You can use eLearning, Virtual Classroom modules separately too, if you don’t want to build them together in a single program.

6.Gamification

As Gamification continues to build strong in-roads into corporate training, it has become increasingly important for Learning & Development (L&D) leaders to explore how the mechanics of gaming boost employee engagement and influence their learning outcomes especially in these disruptive times of remote working and remote learning. An LMS with a Gamification module engages and motivates learners to learn by instilling a feeling of healthy competition and achievement, while enabling them to achieve their developmental goals.

7.Compliance Training

An LMS with an in-built Compliance module enables organizations to manage their Compliance Training programs easily. To the employees, it gives instant access to training materials (on any device of their choice) and receive training regularly on their compliance responsibilities so as to play an active role in creating and maintaining a productive, ethical, and respectful workplace. Here are 9 tips to an effective Compliance Training with an LMS.

8.Extended Enterprise Training

Training can be intended for your immediate employees or for stakeholders “outside” the organization. The latter is termed as Extended Enterprise Training. So whether you wish to push your partners and dealers for more sales, amp up the support for your customers and turn them into evangelists, a learning management system with multi-portal architecture, which allows hosting of multiple/ diverse training portals on a single LMS setup, enables you to train and engage external audiences.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14AqyNbgUQU

9.Reporting & Analytics

Reporting and analytics has emerged as a must-have feature for any leading LMS. Leading LMSes have inbuilt reporting and analytics tools that can map employees’ learning process and measure it against their performance. However, reporting isn’t, or rather shouldn’t be, just a data dump. It should be able to translate the learning management data into meaningful information for devising better L&D strategies and improving processes. A SaaS LMS with an inbuilt Reporting and Analytics engine will go a long way in helping an organization to make informed decisions and maintain its competitive advantage.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYxm4d5YxcI

10.APIs and Integration

An Application Programming Interface (API), in context of a Learning Management System, helps organizations in seamlessly integrating the LMS with enterprise applications and managing various functions with ease. A SaaS LMS must have a decent set of APIs (at least the popular ones) readily available. Integration capabilities with tools like CRM and HRMS/ HRIS, video conferencing, online payment systems, content providers and online content marketplaces for a wider variety of learning content, remove the hurdles that become an unnecessary barrier between the employees and their training. Here’s everything you need to know on LMS APIs and Integrations.

API Integration

11.Competency Management

Competency management is the process of cataloging, managing and developing the skill sets of employees. With the shelf life of skills shrinking and our world evolving at a rapid pace, workforce succession planning is critical not only to fill in existing openings but to create a talent pipeline for the future. An LMS with Competency Management helps you in identifying and understanding the core competencies of your employees, conducting skills-gap analysis as well as competency analysis and profiling. So you can create an environment of sustainable competency thereby enabling the realization of your business strategy, and hence results.

12.Social Learning & Knowledge Collaboration

In today’s hyper-connected world, where life is chronicled on timelines and status updates, why should learning be any different? Social learning and Knowledge Collaboration has become one of the crucial components of the learning mix providing a unique way for people to learn from one another. It helps capture various types of knowledge that are prevalent in the enterprise, going beyond the conventional view of courseware, assignments and assessment. When on the lookout for a SaaS LMS, selecting one with Social tools (how many and what all tools depends upon the makeup of the company’s user audiences) can help in taking the learning initiative a notch higher.

13.Continuing Professional Development

CPD stands for Continuing Professional Development and refers to the process of tracking and documenting the skills, knowledge and experience that you gain both formally and informally as you work, beyond any initial training. Organizations across the globe follow the CPD process (sometimes as a mandatory requirement) to maintain the skill set of their employees. An LMS with a CPD module enables organizations to manage the Continuous Professional Development of their employees through a single platform. Here’s how you can leverage CPD for a competitive advantage.

14.Support for Training Content

As more and more businesses embrace technology-led learning, the eLearning market is expected to increase to $15.72 billion by 2021, with businesses spending nearly $1252 on training and development per employee. This is a stark and clear indication that businesses are finding more value in employee training and development through eLearning. However, with learning technology solutions (like the LMS) effectively taking care of the learning delivery the focus shifts on the learning itself, especially the eLearning courses and content. Whether you decide to invest in Custom developed eLearning or ready-to-use Off-the-Shelf videos and courses, it is important to consider Content as a part of your L&D strategy. An important aspect to consider is the content’s ability to render well on mobile devices as on desktops and laptops. Here are 5 things to consider when selecting off-the-shelf courses.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHmVPsCFZEM

15.eCommerce

For Online Training companies, availability of an easy and secure payment gateway is critical for success of their business. An LMS with ready integrations with PayPal, Eway& other popular payment gateways. Its support for different currencies, along with integration-readiness with your website catalogue, ensures faster go-to-market for online training too.

16.Multi-lingual Support

With employees working remotely in different geographies, organizations need the ability to deliver their employees with training programs in their respective native languages as employees that are effectively trained (in the language of their choice) are well equipped to provide quick and relevant solutions to customers’ questions. Further, having an LMS with multi-lingual support is invaluable to a truly global organization, due to their presence in markets all around the world.

Multi-lingual-Support

17.Standards Compliance

A standards-compliant LMS is a learning management system that abides by the rules set out within popular eLearning standards like SCORM, AICC, xAPI. At its core, an LMS with standards compliance allows content authors to distribute their content to a variety of Learning Management Systems (LMS) with the smallest headache possible. And for an LMS to handle content from a variety of sources.

18.Data Security & Privacy

A Learning Management System (LMS) is a treasure trove of sensitive and confidential information of every organization. Such information, if it fallen into wrong hands, can spell disaster. LMS breaches can result in compliance violations, a loss of competitive advantage or even worse. Most modern LMSes have data security and privacy mechanisms that safeguard interests of its customers. Here is GDPR privacy policy for our LMS, UpsideLMS.

19.Branding &Whitelabeling

Ensuring your learners have an environment that reflects your company brand is important to not only establish consistency but also to send a common, unified message. While a learning platform’s branding tools help to configure the color scheme, logo and other aesthetic aspects of the LMS inline with the company’s branding guidelines, sometimes branding doesn’t render well for all use cases. Case in point, external audiences like customers and partners may need a white-labeled LMS to remove all references to a vendor or indications that a platform wasn’t developed in-house.

20.Organization Structure Management

Does your organization follow a traditional top-down hierarchy? Or are you a flat organization, with no job titles, seniority, managers, or executives? Whichever the case, what you need is a SaaS Learning Management System that can fit your users into a structure that corresponds with your organization’s hierarchy. From the simplest to the most complex, the SaaS LMS should be able define, map and manage your organization hierarchy. Another good-to-have feature linked with this is the ability to define access controls for training content with the access for content creation, delivery and reporting being mapped to the hierarchy.

21.Role Management

Roles are used to define the functions a user can perform in a Learning Management System. Ranging from Administrator and Learner to Line Manager and Instructor to a combination of these, roles give or restrict privileges and access to different areas of the LMS. A must-have for a SaaS LMS is a range of user roles with appropriate level of access rights and privileges – as mapped to their needs.

22.Certification

Yes, the key objective of an LMS is enabling seamless learning. But since the learning happens (mostly) in a virtual setting, both trainers and trainees expect to have their courses certificated and valid for the corporate world. This is where Certificates in an LMS come in. By enabling L&D to attach certificates to curriculums (or learning paths), it serves as a timely recognition to the learner.

23.Responsive/ Mobile-optimized Interface

One of the first signs of a great LMS is that it is mobile responsive – meaning the platform renders well in any device of any resolution in any browser of choice. With smartphones reigning supreme across the globe, an unresponsive LMS is at risk of losing the interest of today’s digital savvy learners. If organizations prioritize mobility, they can be rest assured knowing that maximum amount of learners are accessing the training, thus driving the ROI. Here are 9 reasons you should invest in a responsive LMS.

24.User-first UI and enhanced UX

It is highly imperative for today’s organizations to have clear and precise understanding of the modern LMSes, because even the most incredible elearning programs alone cannot guarantee engagement if the delivery method (read LMS!) is complicated and not user-friendly.

A state-of-the-art User Interface (UI) in an LMS is undoubtedly a prime necessity that helps learners navigate through the LMS with much ease and comfort. With a seamless experience, the learners are more engaged, thus driving course completion rates. And, as more and more learners complete training, organizations get more value for money. Higher productivity simply means more return on investment. Here’s how you can select an LMS from an UX perspective.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jba7OS_1prI

25.Single Sign On (SSO)

The number of times you need to provide your credentials to access various software applications and services such as your favorite social networking sites, your company’s network, your webmail, etc. is far too many to qualify for a productive usage of time. A SaaS LMS with Single Sign-On capabilities counters this very problem. By allowing you to provide your username and password a single time to the Identity Provider, it enables you to gain access to various applications and services without the need for re-authenticating. From improving productivity to reducing IT costs (owing to fewer help-desk requests for password resets), the advantages of SSO in a SaaS LMS are plenty.

 

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