What is a Learning Management System (LMS)?


Learning is an integral part of human nature. As curiosity ignites your mind, the need and aspiration to douse in it becomes stronger and stronger eventually leading to ‘Learning’.

The spectrum of learning touches every organization, its employees, vendors or customers as a whole, and it continues to evolve as technology progresses. The classroom-based Instructor-led training of yester-years has now been coupled with technology-led smart methods like e-learning, video-based learning, social learning, and virtual classrooms among others. This advanced Blended Learning approach has totally enriched the present corporate L&D scenario by providing a flexible and seamless learning medium, one that is accessible anytime, anywhere and on any device.

Superior yet cost-effective learning prospects drive your corporate growth by improving business processes, job-efficiency and employee retention, and the most prominent element of modern learning is the Learning Management System (LMS).

What is a Learning Management System?

A Learning Management System (LMS), in its basic sense, is a server based software application for organizing, assessing, reporting and delivering integrated learning programs.

Now, let’s break this down:


An LMS offers functionalities like creating learning plans, assigning specific learner groups to specific learning plans, e-bulletin handling, storing courses and reference materials, tracking the learners’ progress and awarding certificates. Extent of the access rights to the LMS can vary from an Administrator, to an Instructor and a Learner.


No formal learning is complete without assessments, especially if it involves compliance training. A built-in assessment engine in the LMS evaluates the effectiveness of learning plans according to set goals as per your KPIs (like sales or health & safety rating), identifies the key competencies and provides feedback to the participants involved. Assessments can be done in the form of quizzes, Q & A, grading rubric, simulations or branching scenarios with multiple paths/steps.


Real-time Reporting and Analytics are at the heart of a modern LMS. Performance analysis is important to measure ROI on learning and training initiatives through assessment of the learner progression, course status, ILT attendance, learner feedback, completed certification and much more. An LMS provides an attractive and easy-to-use dashboard to display these metrics and the ability to quickly generate rich, actionable reports.


The integrated learning feature of an LMS involves functionalities to deliver all types of learning, be it traditional instructor led training (ILT), virtual classroom, eLearning, self-paced learning, mobile learning and social learning, among others. An LMS provides a scalable and seamless learning environment which is independent of time, space or number of participants.

An LMS is extremely important for organizations of all sizes as it can enrich your learning assets to a large extent. Let us see why.

Why do I need an LMS?

“Why do I need an LMS? My business is small and it costs serious money to acquire an LMS and a dedicated IT team to set up and handle it”…“My workforce is too small to need an LMS …”

These are all general misconceptions because in today’s corporate landscape, organizations of every size need to invest in tech-driven learning solution like an LMS in order to leverage the following benefits:

Centralizes Training Resources

Intellectual capital is one of the major assets of any business, one that can be utilized to drive innovation and growth. An LMS provides a centralized repository to store and retrieve meaningful, up-to-date and consistent learning resources of a company, which is accessible any place, any time and from any device. Such a centralized learning repository provides uniform learning opportunities for the distributed workforce.

Provides Personalized Learning Opportunities

An LMS is designed for a personalized training plan that is customized to a learner’s overall learning objectives, targeted milestones, and initiatives addressing his exact knowledge and skill gaps. This on-demand and self-paced learning process is especially cost-effective and relevant when used for developing potential business leaders and highly competent executives.

Lowers Training Expenditure

The majority of training cost in a company is owed to classroom-based training. Mainly while on-boarding a new employee they are introduced to their field without giving them real-world responsibilities. Most of the companies are known to host both internal and external training sessions that follow this format. As an alternative, many are switching to LMS-based virtual classrooms to save the hiring and travelling cost of a trainer, cost of venue, and cost of printed training materials. The loss of productivity due to in-person training is also reduced by allowing access to learning at any-time and with no travel involved.

Increases Employee Retention

An LMS promotes employee retention by uniformly spreading the company culture, engaging employees in skill-building activities; technical and non-technical, leading to an increased job competency, higher job-satisfaction and possibly lower turnover rate.

Facilitates Regulatory Compliance

With increasingly complex manpower regulations that exist around the world today, organizations are required to manage and monitor the compliance status. A compliance-ready learning management system streamlines the process and keeps compliance status current, organized, and readily available, so the regulatory requirements can easily be fulfilled.

Fosters Social Learning

Collaborative or Social Learning helps employees learn, develop, support and share significant insight in an informal set-up. Shared learning can also prove to be an influential tool to generate knowledge pool, gauge learners’ response and increase employee engagement.

Simplifies Tracking and Reporting

A significant function of an LMS is as a database, and capturing and preserving details related to training. An LMS gives you the ability to easily track learners’ progress and generate performance reports on an overall or individual basis. L&D can then easily track learning progress, knowledge gains, improvement areas and more to take further call to action.

What are the most common use cases of an LMS?

At an elementary level, a Learning Management System deploys, manages, and measures employee training and learning activities. Here are some of the common use cases for an LMS:

Employee Orientation/Onboarding:

One of the most extensive use cases of an LMS is new employee onboarding. Organizations place considerable emphasis on the process of orienting, training and assessing new employees to make them job-ready immediately and align them with the corporate culture.

Workforce Development: Another common LMS use case is for skill development of the existing workforce. Active employee engagement in training and development activities can bring immense advantages to any organization. In the long run, this leads to higher retention rates, as it can help your talented staff achieve career growth as you cultivate leaders and experts within your teams.

Compliance Training:

An LMS based centralized approach for mandatory compliance training in the form of recurring certification and training programs mitigates risk and helps avoid any potential regulatory violations. Compliance shouldn't be a merely tick box exercise. In that respect, an LMS provides interactive online training resources, thus making compliance training more engaging and highly effective.

Divisions/Department Training:

With Multi-tenant feature of an LMS, different departments of a company can be trained with different objectives, creating multiple customized and branded tenant instances within the same LMS.

Sales Team Training:

An LMS can empower your sales team by providing sales staff with the latest content, tools, information, and skills that they need to be effective in their roles. This includes latest product information, best practices in selling, tools for building long term customer relationships, and skills like business communication, time management, and negotiation etc.

External Customer Training:

An LMS can provide effective onboarding strategy for your customers. For companies, providing continuous customer training to explain new features will increase customer engagement while showing that your product keeps delivering great value.

Vendors/Channel Partners Training:

An LMS provides more opportunities to train the organization’s network members which include vendors, resellers, partners etc. Channel partner training is very important in maintaining an organization’s branding, values and culture, be it in the form of standardized customer acquisition or end-to-end service. It is also a great way to enhance your relationship with partners and ultimately grow your business.


An LMS also provides facilities like a built-in learning content marketplace and a checkout system. This may include tools to set and manage prices, shopping cart functionality, as well as support for discounts, coupons, and related features.

LMS must-have Features: What to look for in a Learning Management System?

Every organization has its unique learning needs and objectives. The L&D department should carefully assess the holistic pattern of its organizational learning and then deploy the LMS most suitable to deliver as per these requirements. Here are some of the must-have features in a modern LMS:

Data Storage and Migration:

An LMS should store your valuable learning and learners’ data securely at a single place. It should also support different formats in order to migrate that data to/from other enterprise applications without any loss or modification.

Integrated Learning:

An LMS should provision for all learning types like ILT, e-learning, virtual classrooms, self-paced learning in the form of video lectures etc. This blended learning approach should be supported in both asynchronous and synchronous modes.

User & Course management:

An LMS should have provision for a structured course and module creation and administration, user creation and grouping, course enrollment or deactivation, Role assignment and hierarchy setting, order management, pre-registration etc. can be done manually or automatically.

Offline Course Visibility:

An LMS should have support for both Online and Off-line access to course or video content.


An LMS should provide learning courseware according to interoperable industry standards such as AICC, SCORM and Experience API/xAPI (or Tin Can).


An LMS should enable tracking and management of both, internal and external certification and retraining activities upon curriculum completion.

Gamification Tools:

Games make anything interesting. An LMS with a Gamification feature makes corporate learning more interesting and increases learners’ engagement by allowing them to achieve points, badges, awards, etc. throughout their learning activities.

Third-party Integration:

The ability of an LMS to integrate with other software can multiply its utility to a large extent. The objective of this support is to share data and drive business workflow while reducing additional workload across various enterprise applications like Enterprise resource planning (ERP), Customer relationship management (CRM), video conferencing tools, and so on.


This feature gives you functionality of building different portals within the same LMS to suit your audiences (different departments, office locations, customers or partners).You can also customize the portals, including the branding, from a central location.


Instructors, executives and management teams need to track learners’ progress. An LMS should provide intuitive and customizable reporting dashboard with a comprehensive overview of key performance indicators (KPIs), in a quick, efficient and sharable format.

Collaborative Learning:  

An LMS should be able to provide social learning support for discussion and networking among peer groups as well as bottom-up interaction and suggestion. Functionalities like Online Communities, Discussion Boards, and Chat Groups in an LMS enable collaborative learning environment.  


The LMS you are using should be in line with your organizational UI/UX irrespective of its source. The white-labeling functionality helps you Brand and Label your LMS solely for your own business, giving a uniform and familiar look and feel to your learners. A white labeled LMS enables you to focus on your courses, instead of the platform they are delivered on.

LMS Deployment

Today, commercial LMS products are deployed mostly as a Cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering, which is hosted on the vendor’s server or a public server and is accessible from anywhere in the world. This is in stark contrast to an installed LMS solution, which is only accessible in one location. One of the essential elements of an LMS is the ability to scale up or down quickly and easily. Modern SaaS LMS's can ramp up or down by thousands of users with ease.

Being a Cloud-based SaaS LMS, the liability of constant updating and upgrading the system, freeing up bandwidth, and providing IT support is all taken care of by the vendor. This reduces the maintenance and service cost drastically as there is no need to hire a dedicated IT staff to maintain your SaaS LMS. A simple call or email to the customer/tech support team is all that is required.


UpsideLMS offers much more than the basic necessities stated above. The learning management system features tools that can help organizations meet any Learning goal in a blended format. This flexibility combined with the system’s tremendous scalability makes it a strong contender in the LMS industry. Whether you are trying to build a competent and skilled workforce or want to offer online training courses, UpsideLMS is your go-to learn-tech solution.

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