In the typical LMS buying cycle, you may conduct a broad search of LMS vendors and narrow it down to 10. From there, you conduct demos and further narrow down the field to three. At this point, you’re going into use-case demos and the sandbox stage until you get to the final two. How then, do you choose an LMS when everything seems apples to apples?
We get it; it’s a hard decision! So here are some differentiators and tips on how to set those two vendors apart. You’ll have to really dig deep into not only the features and functionality of the system, but the level of support and company culture of the LMS vendors, among other criteria.
How To You Choose an LMS When It’s Apples to Apples:
1. Ask about support
This is one of the most common reasons we hear companies are looking for a new LMS. Either their current vendor takes days to respond to issues, simply point admins to self-help guides and materials, or needs to be contacted several times before any resolution can be made. In the meantime, your system could be experiencing a mission-critical bug that could cost you time and money.
When it comes down to those last two vendors, always ask for references and even go so far as to specify if you want one or two that can speak to just the support aspect of the company. Question the vendor on how long it typically takes for support to solve issues. However, it’s easy to stretch the truth so we recommend asking this specific question to those support references. Which brings us to our next tip…
2. Analyze the vendor’s integrity
As you go through this process, be sure to evaluate and analyze just how honest you think vendors are being with you. Are they telling you they can “absolutely do that for you” but then later try to back pedal completely or offer something other than what you discussed? Do they communicate when they say they will or do they send you that all-important spec sheet days after they promised it? These are pretty big red flags.
Be sure to look for not only an LMS vendor but a partner who acts in your best interests. These kinds of vendors will get you the information you need when they promised it, they’ll be honest with you even when it may be to tell you “no, we don’t have ‘x’ but here’s how you can use the system to do the same thing,” they’ll also offer guidance on best practices and scalability, and they’ll even tell you if they’re not a good fit for your needs. This, again, speaks to having your best interests in mind.
And when you hear about the 98% customer satisfaction rate, here’s what it REALLY means.
3. Is the company culture a fit?
Building onto integrity, it’s also extremely important that your company meshes well with your LMS vendor. Finding common ground in your company values, mission statements and business operations can really help set those last two vendors apart.
Pay attention to everyone you talk to at each company and try to paint a picture of who they are based on what you see and what they’ve told you. It won’t be too difficult to see whether or not employees are happy, (again) if promises made are promises kept, etc.
4. How often are they updating the system?
The last three differentiators spoke more to the company, but this one speaks to both the product and the company. Those who make regular releases to the system show they hold continuous improvement in high regard and are also able to keep up with the latest industry and technology trends.
So what do we mean by “often”? Well, it’s not uncommon for vendors to push out a large update to the system once or twice a year. The issue with this frequency is it creates a higher probability of bugs plus admins will need to devote time to sift through each and every enhancement. We, on the other hand, employ an agile development process, which means we release smaller, more manageable batches of system enhancements every 3-4 weeks.
Weeding out the LMS vendors that have the features and functionality you need is the easy part. It’s when the time comes to choose an LMS and those last two vendors look to be apples to apples that you have to look past the system and choose the vendor the offers the support, honesty, company culture and regular updates that will help make your training goals a successful reality.
Are there any other differentiators you look for?