Top tips for making your LMS a lasting success
Shaping the future of learning
The death of an LMS often comes down to neglect. It’s forgotten about and ignored. You’ve probably come across one before – most likely tucked away in the dark corners of an intranet and spoken about only in murmurs. How did it get to be in such an appalling state? The LMS once won an award, or so you’ve heard.
Preparing for life after the launch of your LMS
For an LMS to carry on being useful, you need to plan for the future and think about life after the launch of your LMS.
From tendering for a supplier to putting together a project team, there’s a lot of i’s to dot and t’s to cross. The end result can look so indestructible - and it can be tempting to end the list of to-dos the day the LMS goes live, scuppering its chances before it gets off the ground. This neglect leads to a less than desirable user experience and poor engagement, often resulting in ROI being notably lower than expected, and questions being asked around the overall purpose of the LMS.
How do you keep this from happening to your LMS? Working with a variety of clients at Kineo gives me a chance to see what works. Here are some insights on what successful L&D teams do to future-proof their LMS.
6 sure-proof ways to ensure your LMS is built to last
These top tips will set you up for success, making sure that once your system is live, it gets used and loved by users and provides you with the cost improvements or savings your business was looking for.
Choose your battles
This can apply to almost anything, but in the context of this article I’m talking about thinking of where the quick wins are with your LMS, and making sure they are done first. For example, if you find yourself having gone live with a system, which for whatever reason doesn’t have sufficient content on it, advertising the system to all of your users may not be the wisest next step. Instead, focus on getting all of your content set up correctly and in a way that's appealing to users.
Find your champions
When you’re approaching the go-live of a new system, find your champions within the business. These are individuals you expect will be good advocates of the system. Those who like technology, are forward thinkers, and adapt well – that’s the obvious choice – but also identify those whom you expect will be your main opponents of the system. Turning an opponent into an advocate, that’s really powerful. By engaging with those who may not adapt well early on, you have an additional chance to demonstrate the value of the system to them and turn them into advocates straight away.
Think of your LMS as an enabler of your L&D strategy and plan ahead
With any new piece of software, there’s a risk that the only time it changes is when someone complains about it, or when it has to be changed in order for it to continue working. Don’t let your LMS fall into those categories, but plan ahead and build a roadmap.
This means that not only do your administrators and the team around you know what is coming next, it also means that your end users can be told in advance when new and exciting things are happening. Keeping people interested in the system beyond its initial launch can often be challenging and this is a great way of stopping people from gradually drifting away from the system over time.
Thirdly, having a clear idea of where you want to take the system will also allow you to work more closely with your Totara partner and enable them to advise you of the best ways to achieve you’re aims. It may be that there are cost savings to be gained from some things being done via configuration of the system rather than development, so having a clear plan can be really valuable.
It’s important to think of your LMS as a method to facilitate your L&D delivery. Ensure that any roadmap you put together covers both L&D strategy as well as software development, and is closely aligned so that it can support you in delivering your learning.
When a new system has been introduced, people will often visit to see what is available and form their opinion of the system very quickly. If they have a good experience they will visit again, if they don’t then they won’t.
Making sure your system evolves over time has a number of advantages in that it gives you an excuse to shout about it – keep telling people what is new, market internally and sell the advantages of using the system to learners. It also means that when learners visit, they can see that time and effort is being put in to making the system better for them, which builds loyalty over time. A tired old system people are forced to use, but really don’t want to, doesn’t build appreciation.
Evolving also has a cost and time advantage over leaving your LMS for a long time and then finding it’s hugely out of date because you can drip feed improvements. Having to manage a large scale project is far more intrusive and expensive.
Become a master
If you are the person tasked with managing your LMS within the business, you will be looked on as the resident expert in how it works – become a master of the system. That is not to say that you need to go and learn how to develop software, but getting a solid understanding of what is currently done with the system, and what can be done in the future will be invaluable as you grow and manage the LMS.
There are some key skills and abilities we at Kineo often speak to our clients about when they are selecting someone to manage the system internally, and these are things which in our experience make for better LMS management – this doesn’t need to be all within one person, but ensuring you have the right blend of skills is essential:
- Stakeholder management
the ability and inclination to work with people across the business, to ensure needs are being met and responded to.
the time in their day to manage and LMS. Often this is a full-time role so there is risk if the task of managing the system is bolted on to the role of someone who is already very busy .
- L&D knowledge
an understanding over the overall L&D strategy for the business, along with how and why the LMS might support that into the future.
- Technical Knowledge
knowing how the system itself works, how it needs to be configured and managed for day to day use by the business.
thinking ahead and planning the future evolution of the system.
- Learning design
the ability to set up and manage courses within the LMS in a structured and logical way, understanding the progress of a course and putting it together for the benefit of the learners as well as the business.
If your LMS administration team have a blend of all of the above skills, we believe this will set you up for success right from the outset of launching the system.
Engage with others
All of the above points will naturally involve talking to other people within the business, however we also suggest that this becomes something very intentional and put in place early on. There will be a number of settings where it may be appropriate to gather feedback from various people around the business. To discuss any pain points they are experiencing, or what they’d like to see in the future.
Often this will give you a unique insight into the genuine response to the LMS, rather than sending out the occasional email inviting feedback.
Finally, engage regularly with your Totara Learning partner. They are experts in Totara and have implemented Totara LMS into numerous businesses. Kineo, for example, has a large Client Services team to look after everything once you’ve gone live, and can help facilitate these conversations on an ongoing basis.