According to a 2016 study conducted by Brandon Hall Group, 44% of organizations surveyed were actively considering replacing their current learning management system (LMS). If you’re one of those organizations, you’ll likely issue a request for proposal (RFP) to top LMS vendors and ask them to bid for your business.
John Leh at Talented Learning Solutions observed “There are nearly 700 vendors specializing in learning solutions for corporate, academic, association and continuing education needs… An RFP makes it possible for you to structure the evaluation process, so you can compare vendors ‘apples-to-apples’ and determine how well they fit your business needs, functional requirements and budget.”
But structuring and sending an RFP can be stressful and time-consuming. How can you create an LMS RFP that reflects your needs without all the headaches? Here are some helpful do’s and don’ts to guide your process.
DO take the time to gather internal requirements
If you’re replacing an LMS, there’s a good reason for it. Perhaps it’s too difficult for learners and administrators to use effectively, or it lacks functionality that your organization needs.
Before you go shopping for a new system, carefully identify the shortfalls in your current one. You could engage the services of a knowledgeable consultant to help you do this, or you could undertake it internally. Either way, investing the time up front to determine exactly what you need in a new LMS will pay off as you evaluate vendor responses.
Issues we commonly hear: lack of reporting features, infrequent updates to the system, poor support, too difficult for users to navigate, plus issues related directly to how you utilize the LMS.
DO build use cases
Use cases and scenarios are a good way to structure your LMS requirements. Rather than an endless checklist of features whose utility is difficult to visualize, use cases put a tangible story around particular aspects of system functionality.
Work with your learners, administrators, and instructors to understand their processes and how they want to interact with the LMS. This will include the who’s, the what’s, and the how’s for each groups particular utilization of the system (or just use our handy LMS Use Case Scenario Template). Your chosen vendors should be able to describe how their system will support those interactions and even provide a use case demonstration so you can really get a feel for how the system will or will not meet your needs.
DO use an LMS RFP template, but DON’T rely solely on it
The reality is that most LMS vendors will offer an RFP template that is slightly weighted toward their product’s strengths. There’s nothing wrong with this (heck, we’ve included ours below); you just need to be aware of it.
Also consider that an RFP template is just a starting point. We don’t recommend using one without modification for your specific requirements, organizational priorities, and learning strategies. Incorporate your use cases into the RFP so it’s customized for your organization.
DO Standardize Your Selection Criteria
Think about how you and your stakeholders will evaluate vendor responses as you build the LMS RFP, and optimize it for that evaluation process. Will you rate features on a scale of 1 to 5? Will you simply check whether a feature is present or missing?
You’ll also want to let your LMS vendors know what’s important to you, such as service and support, or whether cost is a primary concern.
Selecting a new LMS is an exciting opportunity to make a real difference in your organization. Have a look at our LMS RFP template for some best practices for your RFP.