LMS Requirements Checklist and Critical Comparison

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Are you hiring new workers? Promoting inside the company? Or looking to adopt new procedures or systems? If so, a learning management system can benefit any business with a desire to provide educational and advancement opportunities for workers. But where to start?

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lms requirements checklist

 

Many of the LMS requirements we’ll discuss in this guide apply with the administration, tracking, and use of digital training and education programs. Companies use a learning management system to train and direct their workers. This software can improve onboarding, recruitment, overall employee skill sets and help analyze performance across departments.

For those early in the process of considering this tool, we’ve compiled a checklist of learning management system requirements that outline essential details. For those looking for further help, you can download our LMS requirements template.

However, before we begin, it’s important to make sure you have a clear understanding of how an LMS fits in your organization.

Initial Steps in Considering an LMS

When you’re looking at a new learning management system, it’s good to have a general idea of what’s most important – but that alone is not enough. To start strong with a clear vision of your ideal solution, you’ll need to strategize, determine what your needs are and prioritize.

Want to jump straight to key LMS requirements? Follow this link.

1. Define Your Strategy

It’s time to ask some pointed questions. How does a learning management system fit within the goals of your organization? Are you looking for a robust solution that can handle multiple complicated course management functions? Or, are you looking for something simple that can handle training for a few departments? Most importantly, what is the most important KPI that will make the difference between success and failure?

docebo screenshot

Example of an LMS dashboard.

Here’s what you’ll need to start your LMS process:

  • LMS Strategy
  • Engaged Stakeholders
  • Departmental Buy-In
  • Implementation Plan

2. Determine Wants vs. Needs

It’s time to separate the “wants” from the “must-haves.” What can you not do without for your organization to function? You’ll want to have clear numbers in terms of how many courses, students and administrators you’ll need to accommodate. If you choose wisely, you’ll even have the option to build as you grow.

Key Requirements
Non-Essential Requirements
Core Functionality
Scalability

3. Prioritize

Once you have your needs and wants, prioritize. What is the key differentiator that’s going to set you heads and shoulders above your competition? What fits in best with your company’s mission and values? Narrow down your list to your top priorities to direct your search more effectively.

Here are a few strategies to help determine your top priorities:

Key Differentiators
Mission, Vision and Values
Priority Checklist
SWOT Analysis

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4. Organize Stakeholders

Nothing is worse than rolling out a system and discovering a major flaw that wasn’t obvious from the big picture view. That’s why it’s important to involve a group of focused, engaged employees and stakeholders early on in the selection process. Hopefully, this will help you weed out any problems beforehand.

Here are some people you could include in your initial group:

Managers and Assistant Managers
Executives, VPs and Directors
Program Administrators
Teachers and Trainers
HR Managers and Admin Workers
Department Employees
Assistant Managers and Managers
Workers who Oversee Integration or Workflow

5. Understand Your Learning Model/Learning Culture

Now that you’ve narrowed down the specifics for your LMS, it’s time to ask a broader question about education. Namely, how is training going to factor into your overall company culture? If you’re trying to put a premium on employee knowledge, you’ll need ways to incentivize your workers. To better understand how employees learn skills, take a look at our guide.

Company Culture
Training Goals
Learning Culture
Instructor-Led Training
Self-Paced Training

Requirements

At last, you’re finished sketching out how the software will work within your organization. For the next step, you’ll want to look at some of the most important requirements of a learning management system. Once you’re finished, you can compare, contrast and analyze your way to the best solution.

1. Core Learning Tools and Course Management

Fundamentally, a learning management system helps facilitate e-learning content and structures online courses. It can also fine-tune different types of training and education. This might include online safety education and an orientation toward the company’s specific needs and corporate culture.

Here are some of the key administrative requirements you’ll want to examine.

Registration & Enrollment

Every learning management system will need to handle important administrative tasks. Registration and enrollment are the beginning of the cycle. The question is, how complex do you need those features to be? Will you enable self-enrollment? If so, your LMS will need the ability to assign courses to the appropriate groups.

Above all, you’ll need the ability to create an intuitive course catalog that’s easy to browse where learners can easily assess only the necessary classes. There are different types of programs that help you create classes and content known as authoring tools. Compare and contrast each to see if they meet your standards.

Self-Enrollment
Course Registration
Course Catalog
Smart Search Options
Course Completion Data

Scheduling

Scheduling can be a labor-intensive aspect of training and e-learning management. By automating these processes, it takes the burden off HR professionals and school administrators. Whether it’s digital, on-site or in-classroom instruction, it must adhere to the necessary scheduling requirements. You’ll also want to be sure that the system prominently displays due dates.

Instructor-Led Training
Blended Learning
Hybrid Learning
Resource Coordination

Test and Training Customization

An exam editor can help instructors test the knowledge of their students through multiple-choice, short essay questions and question randomization. With a learning management system, an instructor can easily plan follow-up tests and change scoring requirements.

Customization can also go beyond the mere format for testing. An individualized approach to lesson planning could tailor it to the needs of each employee. For example, a user can create education materials specifically for workers who are being promoted or make a learning plan tailored to a department that’s shifting its duties.

Some vendors also offer e-learning tracking so companies can see how particular learners performed in training modules for post-lesson assessments. Grading and survey features help learners and instructors see where they excel and where they need to improve. That’s accomplished through weighted grading and automated surveys.

Exam Editor
Multiple-Choice Questions
Essay Questions
Grading Rubrics
Post-Lesson Assessments
Instructor Surveys

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2. Performance Management and Development Tools

Some learning management platforms go beyond simply assessing training and also offer an ongoing analysis of company performance. Performance-focused resources can be built into an LMS platform. This allows businesses to examine proficiencies in particular skill areas, assess their leadership capability or narrow their focus on how well an employee performs their core competencies.

elogic lms

An LMS can sort learners by performance level.

Talent Acquisition and Management

Many LMS vendors provide a range of talent management tools. Recruiting requirements might include methods for attracting talent such as a database that examines the best employees in their field. They may also come with integrated software that lets them post openings on job sites.

Some systems offer specific compensation modules that will assist in finding the appropriate salary for top talent. They might also include industry-wide pricing information that can be used to make tough decisions.

Another benefit of an LMS is the way it develops consistency across the staff. Some vendors advertise their solutions as offering a “career roadmap” for professionals, with easy-to-understand performance management and proficiency tracking data. This data helps trainees see their progress towards achieving their goals.

Although such employee-facing tools are often seen as an “add-on” to core learning management, they can be some of the most useful aspects. An LMS can also be used to ensure fair treatment across the entire business by assessing whether policies are being implemented equally across the board.

Visit our LMS implementation guide for a comprehensive look at the best practices for introducing the new software to your organization.

Candidate Tracker
Employee Database
Development Plans
Career Roadmaps
Competency Management
Skill Gap Tracking

Centralized Human Resources

Important HR functionality could also be a part of an LMS. Several products let companies put their human resources data and important files in a central interface. These systems may also provide attendance monitoring, benefits management and payroll mechanisms. They can serve as a basic human resource tool for businesses that may not have a system already in place. Ultimately, adopting a learning management program with centralized HR requirements satisfies multiple needs.

Attendance Monitoring
Benefits Management
Payroll Software
HR Data Management

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3. Content Standardization and Support

Standards

Most organizations require content standardization so courses can be delivered across different systems and devices. SCORM, for example, has long been a standard in the industry. However, APIs have recently become a powerful alternative for creating content standards and connections across all deployment options.

Common LMS standards include:

AICC
SCORM
Experience API
CMI5
LTI

Compliance

Maintaining industry compliance standards is another standout requirement of learning management software. For companies working with the federal government, vendors can offer compliance options 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 standards.

Certification Tracking and Management
Federal Government Projects
Partner Network Compliance
OSHA, OFCC and Other Government Standards

Other Support

Additionally, many LMS vendors offer various support options to help you as you learn how to use your new system. In this case, it’s important to consider if there is a bug report included. What kind of implementation support will you have access to, and will it be enough? Will you need access to 24-hour live support? Do you want one particular consultant assigned to your organization? What is the ultimate price tag?

Dedicated Support Consultant
Phone Support
Online Support
Bug Reporting
Ongoing Training

4. Intuitive User Interface & Responsive Design

It’s important to pick a solution that is easy to use. You’ll want a user interface that makes sense to an average user. As a company grows so does its learning needs which means it’s important to have scalable software that will easily accommodate many more users and exponential growth.

blackboard profile screenshot

The basic user interface for a learning management system.

Lastly, you’ll want a responsive design. It must work across multiple browsers and devices from phones to desktops to tablets. The ability to access lessons from any device is an essential requirement that increases productivity and progress.

Mobile Learning
User Dashboard
Smart Search
Scalable Platform
Responsive Design

5. Customization and Personalization

Every learner and organization is different, that’s why some LMSs are highly customizable. Most come with branding tools so it’s easy to make it clear where the information is coming from. However, if you need a site without your branding, the process of white labeling allows for a non-branded site with the same data.

Custom data fields determine the types of information to be collected depending on what is most essential for the team. Lastly, personalization allows for different styles of absorbing knowledge. What works for one person might be confusing for another. Your platform should allow any learner to jump right in.

Branded Sites
White-Labeling
Unique Learning Plans
Integration and Third-Party Content

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6. Single Sign-On, Online Security and Data

As employees need to access more and more systems, 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 the process without having to enter their info again. Integrating your SSO process with your LMS, while not required, can be beneficial and is highly recommended.

You’ll also want a secure connection through the https protocol. Ensure that data can be encrypted and that there is a backup in case of failure. Depending on the amount of data to import or export, you might want to make good data management a priority.

Single Sign-On (SSO)
Data Management
Secure Connection
Encrypted Data
Data Import/Export
Https Connection

7. Content Creation and Media

Learning management systems can also serve as a good content library for all educational materials. This could include training manuals, videos, images, PDFs, podcasts and more. There may be unlimited or tiered pricing depending on your storage space plan.

sap litmos screenshot

Through an LMS, users can drag and drop content.

Some common functionality includes embedding PowerPoint presentations, videos or other media into courses. The aforementioned authoring tools will also factor in here if you’re looking for an environment where different users can collaborate and create materials together. For organizations looking to buy or sell training materials, you’ll also want to consider e-commerce options.

Learning Content Management System
Content Library
Authoring Tools
Audio/Video Editing Tools
Content Creation Software
Collaboration Tools
E-Commerce Functionality

8. Installation and Hosting

First, you’ll want to determine whether you want a licensed or open-source program. While open-source options are often cheaper, licensed products have more robust programming for heavily-customized needs.

Depending on resources, you may install it onsite or utilize a Software-as-a-Service/cloud-based software. Local installation may be necessary if the LMS is a more custom or robust tool. Cloud-based options, on the other hand, often provide increased security.

On-Site Installation
Open-Source Software
Licensed Software
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
Private Cloud Security

9. Social Learning and User Engagement

As learning management systems evolve, the goal becomes not just to educate, but to engage learners and foster a culture that encourages them to take initiative in acquiring new skills. Social learning requirements include messaging, collaborative threads, activity feeds, video chats and other ways for users to interact. To engage learners, many instructors use achievements, rewards and other game mechanics to encourage high performers.

Activity Feed
Secure Messaging
Gamification
Achievements and Rewards
Student Forums
Video Responses/Chat
Web Conferencing
Virtual Classrooms

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10. Analytics and Reporting Tools

An LMS review editor provides analytics for decision-makers, showing how people are on-boarded and how they do after they’re hired. Leaders can analyze e-learning courses and content on a regular basis to develop and assess their long-term strategy.

cornerstone lms screenshot

Analytics can hone in on individual performance or examine organization-wide trends.

The method in which reporting is offered is critically important for many customers. It needs an intuitive interface that promotes efficiency and a smaller curve for adoption. Reports can be automated and sent manually via email and include individual performance, departmental assessment and overall compliance training data.

Automated Reporting
Employee Performance Reports
Performance Assessments
Surveys and Feedback

11. Plans and Pricing

Another common non-functional 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.

Products may also charge per learner, pay-as-you-go, per location, per usage, or have a one-time or recurring license or subscription fee. No matter the structure, it’s important to examine exactly how payment is calculated and be on the lookout for hidden fees.

Per-User Pricing
Per-Learner Pricing
Unlimited Plan
License Fees
Monthly/Yearly Subscription Plans
Hidden Fees

12. Compatibility and Integration

Maintaining industry compliance standards is another standout requirement of learning management software. For companies working with the federal government, vendors can offer compliance tools for the Office of Federal Contract Compliance. Safety training elements provide mechanisms for maintaining compliance with U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards.

When selecting your LMS, you’ll also want to consider the compatibility of integrated systems such as:

Learning Content Management System
Customer Relationship Management
Authoring Tools
Talent Management
Student Information System
HR Software
Google Analytics
Professional Editing Tools
Enterprise Resource Planning

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Summary

Essentially, most key requirements of a learning management system are geared toward a holistic learner and performance management process. Other important features serve business or IT requirements. Competency and performance tools are a big part of how such products enhance operations and provide the value that these software packages bring to an enterprise.

Supplementary requirements ensure ease of use and provide a comprehensive tool that conducts learning functions with the added benefit of human resource management. Keep all of these LMS requirements in mind for a smoother selection process when looking for your next solution.

What do you think is the most important in finding a good LMS? Let us know in the comments below!

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Grace SavidesLMS Requirements Checklist and Critical Comparison

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