Choosing a learning management system (LMS) is an extremely important decision for any organization, and with so many options available, it can sometimes be difficult to determine which one is best for your needs.
The reality is that there is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach to LMS selection. Every organization will have a different set of objectives and criteria during their investigation.
That said, there are still a few questions that you can answer at the beginning of your search that can help you at least narrow down the possible solutions.
Depending on how you answer the questions below, you can focus on the providers that meet most of your desired criteria. That said, a word to the wise: it is extremely difficult to find an LMS that will meet 100% of your needs “out-of-the-box”.
That’s the bad news. But there is good news, which I’ll get to in a moment.
Question #1: Software-as-a-Services or Self Hosted?
This is the most important determining factor that you should decide upon prior to your search. Does your organization want to pay monthly for a third party to host and manage the LMS, or do you prefer to have complete control of it on your own hosting/servers?
Deciding this up-front will narrow your search dramatically, and potentially cut your options by 50%. There are inherent benefits to both, so make sure you do proper research on these as well.
Question #2: ELearning, Live Training, or Both?
Some solutions are tailored towards online course management, delivery, and tracking while others are more geared for live training events. In some cases, there are LMS options out there that can do both quite well (which often comes with a larger price tag).
If your main objective is a robust online training program, then you can bypass the options that boast a ton of live event management features.
Question #3: Integrate with Existing Systems or Start Fresh?
This one is important. There are learning management options that integrate easily with other platforms, while others are standalone solutions.
For example, if you are selling courses and already using Authorize.net as the payment gateway, you should choose an LMS that can also integrate with Authorize.net. This will decrease the number of systems you rely upon to make your LMS function, and inherently align your LMS selection to your original organization goals.
On the other hand, if you are starting from scratch and don’t have any systems in place, then such integrations will not carry as much weight in your decision.
Building is Better than Buying
As I mentioned, finding an LMS that satisifies all of your criteria, big or small, is going to be a challenge. In the end, building an LMS often gives you more flexibility.
It is because of this desired flexibility that we created our WordPress LMS plugin, LearnDash. Since it is built upon WordPress, it is extremely easy to add functionality. For example, if you need forums for your courses, it’s just a free plugin away!
That is just one example though. Other open source solutions (such as Moodle) allow you to customize as needed too, albeit a bit more labor-intensive.
If you are looking to host your own LMS (cost saver!) and also would like to have feature flexibility, send us a note with your unique needs and we’d be happy to discuss LearnDash with you further!