Implementing an LMS is as much about your relations with the vendor as it is an investment in their product. It does not start with a sales pitch and end with you buying an LMS. There is more to selecting an LMS vendor than one may initially think. Since the LMS is a system that is implemented from anywhere between a year to a lifetime, it is safe to say that the interactions between you as a buyer and the LMS vendor will definitely be a regular affair, and it should be. More often than not, as first time LMS buyers, organizations often find themselves compromised when dealing with specific vendors, this is primarily because the vendor doesn’t consider your organization’s billing a sizeable amount to nurture a relationship with you actively. The focus here is mainly on larger clients who account for a greater billing cycle, small organizations or companies with lower billing amounts are often left out. Furthermore, there are other considerations to keep in mind when selecting a vendor, and it goes beyond simple relationship nurturing. This article focuses on outlining the ideal factors to be considered when looking to choose an LMS vendor.
How do you choose an LMS vendor?
The trick is to create a list of top LMS vendors based on how they score in all of the following areas. It is advisable to look for vendors who are well balanced and proactive. In most cases, the top LMS vendor for organization ‘A’ is not the same for organization ‘B’. How do you choose an LMS vendor?
The LMS Vendor’s Credibility
Like any selection process, credibility plays an important role when shortlisting vendors, however, time or experience in itself is not the sole factor which determines credibility. On the contrary, vendors with a history in the LMS industry are often the vendors who possess an old outdated LMS, close to reaching its product lifecycle end. Any current-tech feature found on these systems are add-ons, usually crammed into the system, making it clunky and difficult to navigate. Credibility is more than experience; it is the culmination of client testimonials + vendor transparency + first-hand experience of the system (free trials, demos).
Vendor’s Client Portfolio
A client portfolio provides a good look into the vendor’s historical activities, it mirrors the vendor’s experience with different sized clients and the industries they have operated in. It is recommended to look for vendors with experience specific to your industry, as it is a clear indication of an LMS system capable of meeting your industry’s needs. It is also good to look for vendors with considerable experience with customers from other sectors, as this indicates a flexible LMS system capable of addressing dynamic scenarios.
System Trial and Demo
The decision to purchase an LMS should ideally be arrived at only after trialling the system thoroughly. The trial process must be accentuated by a free demo of the system, which sheds light on how the basics of the system work, allowing you to make the most of your free trial. There is no point in trialling a system you cannot operate. Just like buying a car without test-driving it, since you cannot drive in the first place. The free trial should last from anywhere between 20 – 30 days. Anything short of 20 days is not enough for a user to get accustomed to the system; additionally, it is a marketing trick to pressurize you into purchasing the system by creating the illusion of you running out of time.
Probably the penultimate factor to choose an LMS vendor is their size. To choose an LMS vendor is to match them to your own size. Big vendors and small organizations with smaller billings may not be a compatible relationship. Big vendors usually prefer the big spenders. The service a more prominent client gets may drastically differ from what your organization may receive if you do not provide the kind of business the vendor wants. On the other hand, big organizations and small vendors is a match made in heaven, as long as the smaller vendor is credible + has a good client portfolio + invests time in understanding you + lets you demo their system. The reason is simple – when providing smaller vendors with a larger billing amount, you are guaranteed to receive above and beyond exceptional service from the vendor. Furthermore, smaller vendors can accommodate heavy customizations for your LMS since the greater billing cycle justifies this. In effect, the service is better, and the product can be suited to your needs. Large vendors may definitely possess a good LMS system, but the services associated with it is the same as any large corporation would provide. Long waiting times and impersonal customer service are definitely expected.
The Ability to Understand Your Needs
This is one of the most important aspects of selecting an LMS vendor. Discussions and the ability to understand your unique needs is very important for a vendor to understand the kind of service you expect from them. If a vendor doesn’t seem interested from the start or shows a lack of motivation when dealing with your organization, they may consider your organization as being a small business to deal with. Furthermore, if expectations are not set straight, post the purchase, customer support and other vendor solutions may take a back seat. The LMS is one of those systems where a little bit of customization and help with operating the system is inevitable. Some form of support in these departments is always necessary. Identifying vendors based on the initial interactions is a good way to understand how your future relations mite set out to be.
The best way to choose an LMS vendor is by thoroughly testing the system and selecting a vendor with the ability and interest to serve you. It is really important for smaller organizations to match their size with a credible vendor of the same size to receive the kind of support and help required as a first time LMS buyer and user. A small thing to also remember is – age does not signify greatness as mentioned above. Older players usually have dated systems and all the latest features you see in the system are add-ons; rather cramped in to make it modern. This means the system is clunky and hard to navigate.
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