puzzle representing LMS implementation project plan
Training & Learning

The Complete LMS Implementation Project Plan (+ Free Template)

Today, learning management systems (LMS) are nearly ubiquitous in the corporate world. Some 98% of large companies use an LMS to facilitate the delivery, tracking, and management of their elearning materials. Around 80% of small companies have also jumped on board with an LMS to upskill employee talent from within and boost retention and productivity. 

The biggest hurdle for any company that wants to use an LMS for online learning is the implementation itself. LMS implementation involves integrating a learning management system into the organization's infrastructure, including tying it to its current tech stack. 

To get this right, we must ensure the learning management system is helpful for all users, from the learners completing the training program to the managers tracking it. 

Good LMS implementation requires strategic planning and execution to seamlessly integrate the LMS to meet your specific training goals and objectives. However, the effort is worth the return. By implementing an LMS, an organization can streamline its online learning process, deliver online training materials more efficiently, and track learner progress effectively. 

But how do you integrate an LMS? What steps do you need to take to make it a success? In this article, we explain why you need an LMS implementation project plan and what steps you'll want to go through to achieve a successful LMS implementation.

LMS Implementation Cheat Sheet by 360Learning

Smooth-as-butter LMS implementation in 11 steps

Benefits of an LMS implementation project plan

Even the best LMS platforms will require a project plan to implement them into your organization's infrastructure properly. But taking time to plan the implementation carefully will pay off in a significant way, including benefits such as: 

  • Clear alignment of internal business goals
  • Efficient resource allocation throughout the project
  • Smooth implementation workflow
  • Risk mitigation that removes delays
  • Enhanced end-user experience

A thorough LMS implementation project plan creates a solid foundation for future elearning within the organization. You'll be able to maximize the potential of your LMS and help upskill learners effectively and efficiently.

11-step project plan for a successful LMS implementation

Introducing an LMS into your L&D ecosystem requires careful planning and execution. This 11-step LMS implementation checklist can help L&D leaders navigate the process effectively, resulting in a streamlined learning ecosystem within your organization. 

The Think Phase

During this phase, you'll want to define your project and align the plans with organizational initiatives and objectives. Don't rush through this phase; taking time to think through and establish your goals clearly will help with the rest of the planning process. 

Step 1: Identify your training goals and spell out business objectives

The first step in a successful LMS implementation process is identifying clear training goals that align with your organization's broader business objectives and initiatives. 

Determine why you need an LMS and what specific training goals you want to achieve. Then you can articulate the business objective that the LMS will support, such as reducing turnover or improving compliance. These might be milestones like increasing employee training program participation by 20%, or achieving a 10% improvement in customer satisfaction within a year. 

By tying each goal to measurable objectives and key results (OKRs), you can better track the impact of the LMS on your organization. That can help you achieve better stakeholder buy-in and set the stage for successful integration. 

Related: Do you need an LMS, an LXP, a Talent Suite, or a Learning Platform?

Step 2: Present your business case and get buy-in from stakeholders

Present a compelling business case to obtain buy-in from key stakeholders for the learning management system implementation. Engage in one-on-one discussions to understand stakeholder priorities and ensure it's aligning with your training goals. This is when you'll highlight the positive impact the LMS can make on the organization. 

Showcase the potential benefits, such as improved collaboration and productivity. Support these claims with case studies from similar organizations and provide hard data when you can. By securing stakeholder buy-in, you gain the support and resources required for implementation and develop an understanding of the value of the LMS. 

Stakeholder buy-in can increase the likelihood that they'll be actively involved in the implementation, helping to remove roadblocks and making the process much smoother and more successful. 

Related: UK L&D: How to Get Buy-In on a New LMS for Training Your Employees

Step 3: Communicate the goals and objectives to your employees

Now it's time to get the rest of the team on board, including your employees. Clear communication in this step will help generate learner engagement and buy-in. 

Use company-wide announcements, newsletters, and emails to explain the purpose of the LMS and how it will benefit the organization. Highlight employee benefits, like streamlined elearning, better accessibility to materials, and personalized learning plans to help employees upskill. 

Consider holding informal sessions and training workshops to show employees the features of the LMS and allow them to ask questions or voice concerns. 

Transparent communication with employees can generate enthusiasm for the LMS, and getting them on board now can help increase LMS adoption later on.

The Build Phase

Now it's time to move on to the Build Phase. During this phase, you need to make decisions about the processes and people involved in the implementation, then execute the plan. This is the heavy-lifting phase of the project, where the bulk of the work comes in. But a thorough Build Phase will ultimately lead to a more successful launch, so take your time with these steps. 

Step 4: Choose an LMS with features that meet your specific needs

When choosing an LMS, you must find one that aligns with your organization's requirements. Identify the key features and functions critical to your business goals, then consider other factors like user experience, customization options, reporting, integration options, and content management. 

Participate in demos and trials with LMS vendors of your selected LMS platforms. You can also involve stakeholders and relevant departments in this evaluation process to gather their feedback. A comprehensive evaluation here can help you create a shortlist of the LMS platforms that best fit your needs. 

Related: Best Corporate Learning Management Systems (LMS) in 2023

Step 5: Put together an LMS implementation team

Identify the key individuals who can help you successfully integrate a new LMS. Your implementation team might include a project manager (e.g. your Head of L&D), IT specialist, subject-matter experts (SMEs), communication coordinator, sales director, customer training manager, partnerships manager, and other key stakeholders that may have a use case for the LMS. 

Identify the individuals and then define their roles and responsibilities for the implementation. For example, a communication coordinator can handle internal communications, while SMEs can contribute their expertise by developing training content - and the project manager can coordinate between all the parties.

Conduct an orientation session with your team to give them an overview of the plan, its goals, and your timeline for the project. You'll also want to make sure everyone understands their roles and responsibilities. 

Step 6: Set a reasonable time frame to implement your LMS

Establish a realistic and feasible time frame for your LMS implementation process. While timeframes vary, a typical LMS implementation ranges from one to twelve months. 

To determine your timeframe, consider the complexity of your goals, the scope of the project, and how many internal resources will be dedicated to the project. Divide the implementation into distinct phases with specific deadlines for each task. That will help you track progress, keep teams accountable, and keep the LMS project on schedule. 

A well-defined schedule clarifies the LMS project and helps stakeholders allocate resources appropriately. It also promotes efficiency, so stakeholders and team members can align their efforts and expectations for each other. A reasonable timeline keeps everyone on track and helps you get the LMS up and running successfully. 

Step 7: Choose whether you will migrate existing content, create new learning content, or both 

Now, you need to decide whether to migrate existing training content, create new content, or use a combination of resources. 

Start this process by auditing your current content and selecting what's suitable and worth migrating to the new system. You'll need to evaluate whether you can transfer the material to the new LMS as-is, or if you'll need to make adjustments so the content is compatible.

Process automation can help you transfer or adapt content to your new LMS effortlessly. For example, 360Learning features SCORM bulk upload, which batch imports entire libraries of SCORM courses into a new 360Learning catalog.

Investigate the features of your new LMS to leverage its ability to author fresh content, too. Many LMS platforms have integrations that allow you to pull in elearning content from other learning platforms seamlessly, such as LinkedIn Learning, OpenSesame, or Coursera

Some learning software, including 360Learning, also enable you to integrate this third-party content with new learning content created in collaboration with in-house SMEs. Combining existing and fresh content can help you create a robust learning library tailored to your organization's needs. 

Even better, you can now create this library quickly and efficiently with the use of Generative AI tools, like 360Learning’s question creator and upcoming document-to-course feature, which transforms any document into a personalized course in just one click.

Step 8: Create your engagement plan

Focus on developing an engagement plan that generates excitement and drives user adoption of the new LMS. You can use teasers, games, and rewards to engage your learners. More importantly, you can show exactly how the new learning experiences on offer will help learners upskill and reach their development goals.

Strategically introduce these engagement tactics throughout the implementation process, so users can familiarize themselves with the new system slowly instead of diving in all at once. 

For example, you could introduce an LMS Launch Challenge where users complete specific employee training modules during the implementation project to unlock prizes. Or you could host live Q&A sessions to address questions and show off the LMS platform. 

Cultivating user enthusiasm for the LMS is vital for onboarding, increasing participation, and paving the way for continuous learning within the organization. You'll want to show future users why they should care about the LMS, and how using it can benefit them.

Related: 8 Ways to Go From Employee Engagement to Employee Enablement

Step 9: Perform a pilot run

Conduct a pilot test of the LMS before you do an official rollout. Select a diverse group of learners to participate in your pilot program and ask them for feedback on the system's usability, the effectiveness of the LMS platform, and any challenges they had using the system. 

You can gather their feedback through surveys, focus group discussions, or individual interviews. If you had SMEs create elearning content, assess how long it took to create the content and how easy the system was to use. 

Feedback can be collected in the learning platform with surveys or learner feedback features, like course reactions

Document the feedback and use it to refine the implementation before launch. Peer feedback allows you to address issues, make adjustments, and incorporate suggestions for a smoother final launch.

The Launch Phase

If you've had a careful and thoughtful Build Phase, the Launch Phase should continue that success with an official rollout. In this phase, you'll want to continue evaluating your LMS to keep the system running smoothly. 

Step 10: Build momentum for your LMS launch 

Translate what you learned from Step 9 (pilot test) into actionable improvements before you officially launch the LMS. Then make launch day memorable. 

Generate excitement within your organization by using various channels to announce the launch and emphasize the benefits of the new LMS. Host launch events and hands-on training sessions to provide users with in-person support. 

You should also ensure online resources are available for those who opt out of attending the in-person onboarding sessions, like training PDFs, email walk-throughs, or virtual training sessions. 

Building momentum and excitement for the launch boosts user adoption in the long-run and establishes the LMS as a valuable tool within your organization. 

Step 11: Gather real-time feedback to keep your LMS at peak performance

Don't stop momentum at launch. Continue gathering real-time feedback to maintain the performance of the LMS and meet the organization's evolving needs. Provide feedback methods like surveys and online suggestion boxes to encourage LMS users to share their experiences with the system.

Use feedback to address users' concerns while prioritizing system enhancements. Monitor key metrics and milestones to assess the LMS's impact on training goals and objectives to maximize the value of your LMS. You'll be implementing continuous improvement in the organization as a whole. 

Streamline your learning with a successful LMS implementation

A seamless learning management system implementation lays the groundwork for successful L&D and productive cross-team collaboration. Following this 11-step project plan can help you effectively implement an LMS that aligns with your L&D goals, engages your learners, and achieves measurable improvements within your organization. 

Download our free LMS implementation cheat sheet to access a comprehensive project plan for implementing your LMS successfully. Want more support? Talk to our team members about our comprehensive learning platform and how we make implementation easier. Request a free trial of 360Learning to start upskilling your talent with powerful collaborative learning features.