LMS Requirements Checklist and Critical Features Comparison

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Hiring new employees? Promoting from within? Adopting a new system or procedure? Learning management systems (LMS) can benefit any business with a desire to provide educational and advancement opportunities for their employees

Learning management system requirements and features are related to the administration, tracking and use of digital training and education programs. Companies use LMS software to help provide training and direction for employees. Learning management software can also help companies improve onboarding, recruit talent, improve employee skill sets and analyze performance across departments.

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We’ve compiled an LMS features checklist outlining LMS system requirements and offer a LMS requirements template to help with your specifications. In addition, with an LMS features comparison in mind, our conversations with 60+ companies provided insight into what learning management system buyers are searching for in 2018. For the key findings from our LMS survey, click here.

Requirements & Features

Core Learning Tools

Fundamentally, a learning management system helps facilitate elearning content and structuring online courses. It helps fine-tune different types of training, such as online safety training and training oriented toward the company’s specific needs and/or corporate culture.

Some common LMS functionality includes embedding PowerPoint presentations or videos into courses. Some LMS vendors also offer eLearning tracking where companies can see how particular learners performed in these training modules. Some vendors offer post-lesson assessments for this purpose as a part of eLearning reporting.

Performance Management Tools

Some learning management software platforms go beyond assessing training and offer ongoing analysis of performance management information. Performance-focused learning resources can be built into a particular LMS platform. With sophisticated LMS tools, businesses can analyze the proficiency of employees in a particular skill area, assess their leadership capabilities, or focus on different types of core business processes and how well people perform them.

eLogic LMS

A leaderboard from eLogic eSSential LMS.

Content Standardization

Most organizations today require some type of content standardization so course content can be delivered across different systems and devices. SCORM has been a long-standing standard in the LMS industry. However, APIs have recently become a powerful alternative for creating content standards and connections across the growing collection of systems and devices.

Test and Training Customization

Along with the ability to embed multimedia in testing, companies can utilize Learning Management System features that provide formats such as multiple choice, short essay questions, question randomization and learning feedback. Customization can go beyond the simple choice of testing format. An individualized approach to lesson planning tailors learning to the needs of each employee. For example, a user can create education materials specifically for employees who are being promoted to ensure the employee is prepared for their new role.

iSpring LMS Content

A lesson content dashboard from iSpring Learn.

Single Sign-On (SSO)

With the rising number of systems an employee needs to access, implementing a single sign-on process improves productivity and reduces strain on IT. SSO capability allows users to log in to one portal and access multiple connected applications. After logging in once, with a single username and password, users can move through systems without the need to enter their information again. Integrating your SSO process with your LMS, while not required, can be beneficial and is highly recommended.

Centralized Human Resources

Learning management software often includes core HR functionality, creating a comprehensive platform. Several learning management systems offer companies the ability to put their human resources data and employee documents into a central interface. These systems may also provide time and attendance tracking, benefits management and payroll features. An LMS with these features can serve as a basic human resource tool for businesses that may not have a successful system already in place. Adopting a learning management program with centralized HR features satisfies multiple software needs in one system.

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Other features specific to learning management software help schedule training programs. All of the digital and online training, as well as on-site or classroom training, has to adhere to a particular schedule for each individual onboarding process. Scheduling can be a labor-intensive aspect of training and eLearning management. These vendor solutions automate some of the scheduling to take the burden off of human resource professionals.

Talent Acquisition and Management

Lots of learning management software vendors provide a range of talent management tools. Recruiting features include, for example, databases for promising candidates, tools for posting job advertisements and other digital resources related to attracting top talent. Some systems offer specific compensation tools that help you price talent to the company’s advantage. For instance, industry-wide salary tools show a range of comparable industry pricing for whatever role a company is trying to fill.

Corporate Culture Features

Another set of useful learning management software features include developing consistency across an entire staff. Some vendors advertise their systems as offering a sort of “career road map” to professionals, with easy-to-understand performance management and proficiency tracking data.  This data benefits trainees by showing them their progress towards achieving their goals.

Although such employee-facing tools are often seen as an “add-on” to a core learning management software offering, they can be some of the most useful aspects of LMS.

Learning management systems can also be used to ensure fair treatment across the entire company, assessing whether policies are being implemented equally across the board.

Reporting Tools

All of the above types of data can be utilized for learning management reporting. An LMS review editor provides analytics for decision-makers, showing how people are onboarded and how they do after they’re hired. Leaders can analyze eLearning courses and content on a regular basis to develop and assess their long-term strategy.

The method in which reporting is offered by an LMS is critically important for many customers. The reporting module needs to include an intuitive interface that promotes efficiency and a smaller learning curve for adoption.

Cornerstone OnDemand Growth Edition

An example of Cornerstone OnDemand Growth Edition’s analytic functions.

Pricing and Support

Another common non-functional LMS requirement is per-user pricing — the ability to only pay for active users in a system. This helps a company purchase learning management software efficiently. However, there are some programs that do not account for activity and charge per employee regardless.

Additionally, an LMS commonly offers consistent support, such as phone support during training and implementation processes.

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Compliance Standards

Maintaining industry compliance standards is another standout feature of learning management software. For companies working with federal government projects, vendors can offer compliance tools for the Office of Federal Contract Compliance or other types of standards helpers. Safety training elements provide tools for maintaining compliance with U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards.


Essentially, most of the above key features are geared toward a holistic learner and performance management process; the other features are business or IT requirements. Competency and performance tools are a big part of how LMS systems enhance business operations and provide much of the value that these software packages bring to an enterprise. Supplementary features ensure ease of use and provide a comprehensive system that conducts learning functions with the added benefit of human resource management.

2018 LMS Survey Results and Research

Key Insights

  • Most software buyers are looking for a standard LMS, but with added core HR functions.
  • Seamless LMS integration with existing company systems was desired.
  • On-premise deployment alone was not wanted by any respondents.

Most Software Buyers are Looking for a Standard LMS, but with Added Core HR Functions

When asked about the features they need, the most popular answer from our respondents was simply a desire for a standalone learning management system. Seventy-eight percent of businesses surveyed mentioned they would like a standalone LMS with basic capabilities. A need for simplicity was apparent in the volume of responses expressing “standalone LMS” as the most important feature compared to the number of responses identifying more advanced features.

Other features were named, but a typical LMS was discussed more than any other specific feature. The second-most mentioned requirement was integration capabilities; however, the need for integration did not come close to the need for a basic LMS. Twenty-seven percent of responses referenced integration, compared to the 78 percent of responses about standard learning management systems.

There was interest in the addition of other core HR functions to an LMS. Some buyers mentioned applicant tracking systems (ATS), time and attendance tools, onboarding, performance management and benefits administration. Mentions of standard HR features equaled 18 percent, with ATS topping the list at eight percent of total responses. The desire for the addition of standard HR features to an LMS can be attributed to the need for an all-in-one system, or a lack of awareness of what a learning management system encapsulates.

Seamless LMS Integration with Existing Company Systems was Desired

The ability to integrate with other systems was mentioned in 27 percent of responses. Surveyed businesses expressed a need to integrate mainly with human resource software suites such as Namely, UltiPro, Ceridian Dayforce, Oracle and ADP. A need to integrate with in-house, non-HR company systems was also important to buyers.

Integration with OneLogin was mentioned so employees could access the LMS from within an internal site. This ties in with with a desire for branding. “Brand/branding,” as well as the terms “white label” and “whitelisted” (the ability to remove non-company specific branding from an LMS interface) were shown in six percent of answers.

Other system integrations wanted by survey respondents include ScoreCloud, Google G-Suite, SharePoint and application programming interfaces (APIs). The desire for easy integration, much like the need for core HR features in an LMS, relates to simplicity. Businesses want to be able to implement an LMS and begin using it with little start-up hassle.

Sixteen percent of respondents said they would like to add their own content to an LMS. Additionally, eight percent of buyers expressed a need for customization in their answers. However, a need for on-demand or system-included content was mentioned often as well, in 19 percent of responses.

On-premise Deployment Alone was not Wanted by any Respondents

The majority of survey respondents did not express any kind of preference for a deployment method, stating they would be interested in “either” or “both” forms of deployment. Fifty-two percent of companies surveyed had not firmly decided on a method and were still considering cloud and on-premise deployment.

Although the majority of responses expressed indecision, a desire for cloud-based deployment was almost equally as popular at 45 percent. Remaining responses said either method of deployment would be of interest, but cloud-based deployment was preferred.

Similar to the buyers who participated in our HR management software survey, no respondents were interested in implementing an on-premise system. Ease of access is likely the cause of this discrepancy in deployment method. Businesses want their employees to be able to use the LMS from any device, without the localized restriction that exists in an on-premise system.

Other Needs of Buyers

Another popular feature for learning management system buyers was the ability to create reports. Reporting was mentioned as a needed feature in 19 percent of answers.

The ability to track educational progress was equally as popular as reporting, again appearing in 19 percent of responses. Tracking serves as an accountability system that employers can use to monitor development; employees can view their growth and use the ability to track as a motivational tool.

The need for mobile functionality followed close behind reporting and tracking, appearing in 18 percent of responses. An ability to access lessons from any device is an essential feature, increasing productivity and progress.

Eight percent of buyers said they would like to have the ability to establish management levels and restrict access based on employee role. Role-based accessibility ensures employees only view lesson content that is relevant to their position.

Certification programs were needed in an LMS by six percent of buyers. Specifically, compliance training and certifications were mentioned in five percent of total responses. Some compliance measures that were explicitly referenced include OSHA, HIPAA and EEO compliance.

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Survey Conclusion

A major trend, based on survey responses, is the need for a pure learning management system. The majority of buyers want a simple LMS that provides continued education for employees of every role and skill level. Additional features contribute to this goal. Overall, simplicity was a major theme of the responses— buyers want to be able to easily deploy and integrate an LMS into their business’s systems and give employees the ability to begin learning as soon as possible. The use of a learning management system contributes to workforce development and can lead to opportunity advancement.

Although our survey respondents kept it simple, consider the features that would be most beneficial to your business to begin your search for a learning management system. An LMS features comparison between vendors will determine the system and LMS requirements that are right for you.

Which LMS features are you considering for your business? Tell us in the comments!

Alainia ConradLMS Requirements Checklist and Critical Features Comparison

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