Stakeholders in Selecting Your LMS

  • Stakeholders in Selecting Your LMS

The LMS is an enterprise-wide system, and the selection process of this system mandates the involvement of a group of people. This group is responsible for shortlisting and implementing the LMS, followed by the administrating of training programs on this new system. The groups being referred to here are the stakeholders, and it is important for them to be involved in all aspects of the LMS for it to be a true success.

The role of selecting an LMS should ideally be the L&D and HR team’s responsibility with inputs and commitments from other stakeholders throughout the process.

This article will try to define the roles individual groups play at different stages of the LMS buying, implementing, and usage cycle.

Top Management: Every business has objectives to meet and hurdles to cross, which help it function like a well-oiled machine. The organizational goals may involve scaling teams rapidly to meet business growth requirements, increase employee productivity, reduce job-related accidents, improve sales and sales effectiveness, streamline processes, or improve the supply chain. Setting new goals, working towards those goals, and identifying areas of improvement, while driving efficiency are primary focus areas of the top-level management at any organization. It always starts with business needs. Continuous training and development of the employees is often the best means to meet these ends, and thanks to the advent of current technology, training needs are now addressed in a cost-effective and time-saving manner via an LMS.

It is important to carry out a use case analysis, which defines the primary purpose behind implementing the LMS and how it helps achieve the organization’s goals. More significantly, understand the business impact that the top management is seeking, and understanding the potential pay-off on meeting those goals with the help of an LMS. This is very important to build a business case for an LMS, justify budgets, and present an ROI for the investments in an LMS and the other activities. It is good to have a detailed study which states why the LMS is needed and what its primary use is.

The LMS could provide the solution to reduced training costs and efforts, or improve employee productivity, and the use case could be for employee induction, compliance training, sales training, product training, training your supply chain and partner network, etc.

Once a detailed report is created, which addresses the ‘why’ and ‘for what’ questions, it makes presenting the idea of implementing an LMS a much easier task for the top management. Based on this report, the HR and L&D teams can fully understand what it requires in an LMS (feature-wise), and proceed to devise a training content plan accordingly, which addresses the organization’s current requirements.

Business Groups: In addition to the top management, it is important that the needs of business groups must be heard as well –  whether it is the people who run your Operations, Supply Chain, Quality Control, Sales and Marketing, Product Development, Manufacturing, Service Organizations etc.

Once aligned with the top managements objectives, getting inputs from various business groups on how the LMS can help them achieve their goals in order to align with top management or organizational goals is important. To begin with, you may or may not go with implementing and rolling out an LMS for all business groups simultaneously. You may need to start with an area or two where the business need is the most pressing. If the organization is going through a major growth phase and is expanding its supply chain or reseller network, you may need to start by looking at an LMS meant for Extended Enterprise. In a sales organization, you may need to focus on sales training first. In case your organization is experiencing service delivery issues, then training your service organization or operations team may be a big focus area. If your organization is facing a significant risk (health, safety or legal risk), then ensuring organization wide compliance may be the biggest area. The recent incident at Starbucks is a good example.

LMSes can handle delivery of training to multiple areas of the business. Depending on your resources, you may want to plan your rollout using an agile mindset rather than try and take on an organization wide rollout in the first go. Getting inputs from the business groups is important because an LMS cannot be implemented successfully without it. If there is any resistance, address those objections first and make sure your LMS can address those issues.

IT Teams: Selecting an LMS based on the features it has to offer and the requirements it must meet, primarily is a task for the HR and L&D teams while keeping in mind the needs of the business groups. Some organizations make the mistake of allowing IT teams to drive decision-making or influence the decision far more significantly than is recommended. For example, if you are using an ERP system or an HRIS, using the same vendor for your LMS as well may or may not be the best thing for you based on your goals. Most LMSes integrate with your HRIS systems so allowing the fear of integration issues dictate your LMS selection may not be the best idea to begin with. Choosing an LMS has to factor in concerns from IT but it shouldn’t be allowed to dictate choice of vendors. A whole range of issues must be factored in.

While we recommend that IT must not drive the selection process, when it comes to the actual implementation and understanding of technical aspects of the LMS like integration options, compatibility with legacy courses, internal IT support, and complexity of the LMS usage, the IT team is a key partner in the selection process. It is important to bring them in early and help them guide the selection process. The role of the IT team must be to help HR and L&D teams in identifying LMSs that will fit in with the existing systems, easy to use, cost less to implement, and require minimal vendor support.

By understanding the technical specifications and selecting a system which is robust in its integration options and its ability to be serviced internally in event of a system breakdown, the IT team can help successfully identify LMSs, which have very few technical challenges involved. Bringing in the IT team too late in the selection process may cause some surprises at the end.

HR and L&D Teams: Besides driving the LMS selection process, HR and L&D teams are responsible for rolling out employee training and development initiatives. HR and L&D teams have to build alignment with top-level management, identify areas of improvement, build the business case for investing in an LMS, make sure the initiatives are aligned with business groups. Ensure it has the IT team’s support and blessings. Beyond selection of the LMS, it is the HR and L&D team’s responsibility to devise a training and development plan on how they are going to leverage the LMS. This means that appropriate employee training and development courses must be outlined. A plan for training content to meet the training goals must be put into place, which could be a combination of off-the shelf courses plus custom courses designed to meet the training objectives and overall goals of the organization. The outcomes of the training must be quantifiable with supporting reports and analytics. These reports should be generated by the LMSes reporting mechanisms. Selecting an LMS capable of creating such reports should be the primary goal. This is why the shortlisting process must comprise of LMSes that are designed solely to meet a corporate’s training requirements which is a Corporate LMS. Ensure your LMS is not an ecommerce LMS or a training company LMS or worse an academic LMS. That’s like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

It is important for HR and L&D to understand the challenges of the business groups and how people will actually take to the training and tackle challenges in using the system. For example, if the members of the sales and service teams are on the field, then it is important to select an LMS which has strong mobile learning capabilities. If a key objective is training staff who are not IT savvy, it is important to select an LMS which has a simple UI and UX so that learners are not intimidated by a complex LMS. Ability to understand and process all of these objectives when selecting the LMS is a job for the HR and L&D team.

Conclusion

Once a list of LMSes are prepared based on the various needs of the organization, the business groups and the IT teams, it may get back to the top management for final approval, in case it is a small organization or an organization which has a centralized decision-making process. In case of larger organizations which may have approved a budget for an LMS, once the business case has been established, the teams can make the final selection. Here, the final pricing plans offered by the shortlisted vendors is checked, before making the actual buying decision.

It is important for the stakeholders to understand their roles and responsibilities in selecting the LMS. As each group of stakeholders specializes in their specific domain, the LMSes being shortlisted, pass through four distinct selection rounds. Each group receives a list of LMSes that has been approved by the previous group. Once the list passes through all stages, the remaining LMSes are considered the best options for the organization to select. Click for a free consultation with our Abara LMS team.

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