7 features to look for when choosing an LMS
A learning management system (LMS) can revolutionize your employee training practices. But you can’t just implement any LMS. You must select a system that meets the unique needs of your organization and aligns with the way your employees do their jobs.
If you’re in the market for an LMS, here are seven must-have features.
Key LMS requirements
LMS requirements will vary by organization, but this list of characteristics is universally valuable:
- Simple user experience
- Blending learning
- Advanced analytics and reporting
- Customer education support
1. Simple user experience
First, the fundamentals. Your LMS must enable a simple, frictionless learning experience. The design should be user-friendly. Content should be easy to update. The system should accommodate a range of media, including text, images, video, assessments, and interactive modules.
The concept of a simple user experience also applies to the administrator. A great LMS makes it easy to add new content, retire outdated modules and update information with just a few clicks. Plus, a well-organized dashboard makes it easy for administrators to track detailed analytics, assign programs to the right groups, and review employee progress.
The LMS should offer multiple assessment types, including knowledge checks and on-the-job observations. The system should include development tools, such as question editors and evaluation form builders, so you can put together assessments that meet your employees’ needs.
How often do employees engage with your current LMS? Once a month? Once a quarter? Most organizations have a hard time getting people engaged in learning programs other than compliance requirements. And even then, managers have to chase people down to get them to log in.
Modern content systems like Netflix, TikTok, and YouTube are successful because they personalize the experience to each user. Every time you log in, you’re nudged towards content that matches your interests. Entertainment and learning aren’t exactly the same, but the concept of personalization applies to both. A great LMS provides a value-add experience for employees every time they log in.
Many LMS providers claim to personalize their learning experiences. However, this is often limited to basic tactics like course recommendations. Just because someone took a course on food handling six months ago doesn’t mean they need training on temperature danger zones today. Instead, learning systems must adapt the experience to meet each person where they are in their development.
For example, Axonify applies proprietary adaptive technology to determine an employee’s greatest area of need and deliver the right content during every training session. This is a big reason why Axonify gets 83% participation with employees logging into two to three times per week on average. More engagement results in more learning and better knowledge retention.
Personalization is the most powerful way to increase learning engagement. Gamification comes in a close second. Gamification refers to the application of game mechanics, such as points, competition, rewards, and progress, in a non-game setting. Axonify gives employees the opportunity to earn virtual currency as they complete learning activities. This currency can then be used during in-app auctions to win prizes like gift cards and company swag.
Gamification may sound trivial, but it’s proven to be extremely effective. According to the International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, gamification can increase learning retention by 12.23% and overall performance by 7.03%.
Look for an LMS that applies proven gamification tactics. Make sure it can customize these tactics to fit your organizational culture. Leaderboards may be great in some settings but demotivating in others. Prioritize systems that help employees track their progress and engage with peers. Consider advanced tactics like casual gameplay, which help employees stay focused on the learning experience while playing a quick game.
4. Blended learning
Digital training is just one part of a great workplace learning experience. Employees learn through hands-on experience with assistance from peer trainers. They also receive ongoing recognition and coaching from their managers. If an LMS is only capable of hosting and delivering online training, it’s missing a big part of the employee experience.
The LMS should allow you to blend digital and on-the-job training experiences and help employees transfer what they learn into real-world practice. Axonify uses learning paths to blend videos, questions, tasks, events, and evaluations into a seamless experience. This accelerates learning transfer and ensures an employee is ready to apply their knowledge upon training completion.
A cloud-based, SaaS LMS has many advantages over a traditional on-premise LMS. For starters, SaaS LMS tools are mobile-friendly, which is imperative in today’s increasingly mobile landscape. Consider that the mobile learning market is projected to reach more than $80 billion by 2027. Because a SaaS LMS is hosted in the cloud, it can be accessed from all types of devices, including smartphones, desktops, and tablets.
But mobile learning isn’t the only benefit of a SaaS LMS. These types of systems are also easier to deploy, easier to customize, less maintenance-intensive, and more affordable in the long run. Don’t get stuck with clunky, outdated learning management systems that have to be manually configured and installed onto local PCs.
6. Advanced analytics & reporting
A quality LMS will track more than just participation and test scores. It provides access to a wealth of data and analytics on how employees are developing in their roles. This includes learning engagement, assessment results, device usage, knowledge growth, behavior change, and skill expertise. The better your data, the better you can fine-tune your learning programs, proactively improve your content and meet the needs of individual employees.
Some LMSs will even allow you to customize the metrics that you want to track. Set goals and customize your dashboard with the information that’s most important for your organization. All essential data is available at a glance, saving you the effort of having to manually compile and interpret large amounts of scattered information.
Axonify allows you to import business goals and connect them to specific learning programs. Axonify then tracks employee progress in both training and job performance to determine if training is having the intended impact. The resulting data allows you to proactively adjust your training program to maximize your ROI while managers can zero in on the specific areas of performance that matter most to each employee.
7. Customer education and support
Picking the right LMS is about more than technology. You also need to make sure the company behind the technology will be there to support you and make sure you get the best value for your investment.
While new SaaS systems are straightforward and easy to navigate for employees, there’s still a lot of moving parts behind the scenes. Dedicated customer support will help you keep pace with system updates and troubleshoot any issues that may arise during implementation and thereafter. Plus, education offerings can help you discover new ways to strategically use your LMS to solve priority performance challenges.
Every Axonify customer has a dedicated success manager to help guide their digital learning strategy after implementation. They also join an online community where they can collaborate with other customers, submit questions, review release notes, and access on-demand resources.
How to determine the learning management system requirements for your organization
All of the above qualities are beneficial in an LMS, but the most important of those qualities will depend on the needs and goals of your organization. For instance:
- If you’re struggling to get employees engaged in learning programs, you should prioritize LMS capabilities like personalization and gamification.
- If you support a wide variety of audiences who use an array of corporate training tactics, blended learning should definitely be at the top of your list.
- If you support a large, complex enterprise, you’re likely to benefit even more from advanced analytics and customer support opportunities.
- If you apply a deep technology stack within your operation, consider making system integrations with platforms like your CRM, HRIS, or POS a priority.
And, of course, there are LMS features that every platform should have, including:
- A mobile-friendly design
- A simple experience for all users
- The opportunity to scale and expand as your business grows
- A secure infrastructure that protects your company data and meets industry requirements
Choosing an LMS is a big decision. From running an RFP and selecting the right system to implement the software and promoting it to employees, it takes a lot of work. This is why it’s so critical to prioritize your needs going in and not get distracted by marketing hype.
Keep the needs of your organization and employees front and center as you explore the technology marketplace, and you’ll ultimately find that the right LMS can really transform performance within your business.