Rolling out a new Learning Management System (LMS) is both exciting and terrifying. Your LMS could become an ocean of knowledge your employees look forward to swimming in—or, a dirty swamp they go out of their way to avoid. The stakes are even higher if you consider the fact that 75% of projects fail because they weren’t implemented correctly.
A smooth LMS implementation requires more than choosing a platform and filling it up with training courses. It involves goal setting, careful planning, regular (re)assessment, and a lot of strategic decision-making along the way. Every LMS implementation project plan will look slightly different, but a clear tried-and-true blueprint of the process will help you stick to a plan that's modeled after industry best practices and adjusted to fit your company's unique situation.
We laid out the building blocks that can help make your implementation successful. We'll start by breaking the LMS implementation process into two major phases: the build phase and the launch phase. Read on to find out how to nail both with eight straightforward steps. And if you're in the phase of evaluating vendors, our RFP template can help you make the best choice in less time:
The build phase is when most of the thinking and planning takes place. This involves laying down clear objectives and deadlines, defining roles, and thinking about the content. Having clarity will make the implementation transparent and easy to follow for everyone involved.
As with any project, the first (and most important) step is to set goals for your new LMS. Nail down what you want to attain with the new system in relation to employee training and your organization. Setting goals will keep the implementation plan firmly on track.
For example, if your business objective is to increase sales, your training goal will be to train your sales reps faster and more often, and then calculate the impact of training on the win rate. You need an LMS platform that enables you to train them often and fast with new products and pitches as soon as your reps need them.
Related: Our 3-Step Process for Using OKRs to Drive Performance (+ Free OKR Template)
44% of companies with learning technology think about replacing their solution within two years. That’s a significant waste of resources. Choosing an LMS is like choosing the right T-shirt. You have to account for your preferred style of training and pick the size that fits your organization. Unlike a T-shirt, tossing out your LMS can lead to plenty of discomfort and unmet business needs.
When choosing an LMS, it’s important to consider a handful of factors: user experience for learners and authors, the cost of the tool against the number of features it provides, and the ability to scale alongside the company’s goals.
Related: LMS Features to Consider When Choosing a Learning Management System
Identifying and preselecting the people who will work to implement the LMS is a crucial step. A well-rounded crew of stakeholders with clear roles and responsibilities should work together to aim for the best output, while also being prepared for the unexpected.
The timeline for your LMS implementation depends on the scope of your project, the experience of your team, and your chosen LMS. An on-premise LMS, which is hosted on your own server, can take anywhere from six to 12 months to implement, while a vendor-hosted solution, also known as a SaaS or cloud LMS, can take between three and nine months.
Create a realistic timeline because missed deadlines cost time and resources. Calculate the time and resources you have to dedicate to the project, account for a buffer period for obstacles along the way, and create a rollout calendar.
On top of outlining what tasks should be done when, your calendar can be a visual representation of how you’re delegating tasks among your LMS implementation team.
Your company may already have existing online learning content, such as prerecorded webinars, interactive courses, or something else entirely. Before you launch your LMS, it is important to make decisions about whether you will be migrating existing courses, creating an entirely new body of courses, or hosting a mix of both.
This decision will require you to weigh the costs of starting from scratch against the cost of relying on existing content that might not clear the bar for quality.
Related: Why Are We Still Stuck with SCORM? A Debate with L&D Experts
Testing your LMS helps make the user experience better for the instructor and the learner. Perform a pilot with a small, diverse test group to make sure you are ready to launch and to ensure that best practices have been applied.
The objective of this beta test is to surface any setbacks, so you can tackle them before you actually launch. You'll want to engage managers to make sure that they are part of the communication plan and can relay relevant information to their teams.
The launch phase of your LMS implementation is when your LMS has been tried and tested and you are ready to get the wheels off the ground.
By industrialize, we mean taking the learnings from the beta test and applying them to the live launch. You already have a blueprint from the beta test; now, you just need to pick what worked and leave out what didn’t.
Once it's launched, your LMS's success largely depends on whether it works for the people it's meant to serve. So, it's critical to set up a system to collect their feedback in order to understand what's working, what isn't, and how to make your LMS the best eLearning tool possible for your unique team. The feedback gives you insight into your learners, their engagement, and course completion levels.
Implementation is not the finish line. In fact, it is just the beginning of your learning curve as an organization. Maintaining an LMS by establishing governance, setting goals, and tracking results will leverage your learning system to achieve its full potential.
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