When You Should Build Your Own LMS

laptop-computerThe learning management system has grown up quite a bit over the past decade.

What used to be a rather dull workhorse operating in the background is now an exciting, feature packed offering.

This evolution in the LMS has resulted in people raising their expectations on what it can (and should) do for their elearning programs.

If you look at the learning management industry you can see that many providers make an earnest attempt to satisfy as many different use-cases as possible. They often do a good job satisfying these various needs.

However, no LMS is perfect for every situation.

What To Do When an LMS Doesn’t Meet Your Requirements

There are essentially two options that you have if you are struggling to find an LMS that meets your project’s unique needs.

  1. Adjust your requirements
  2. Build your own LMS

As you can probably gather the cost of #1 is significantly less than the latter 🙂 . But on a serious note, it is very well possible that a learning program’s requirements are just too unique.

Even worse, there just might be too many requirements.

I have seen this first hand on some pre-sales conversations for our LMS where we are sent a Microsoft Excel document with hundreds of features/requirements listed.

From my experience that particular approach in solution selection is an uphill battle. It’s much better to look for characteristics instead of just features. Still, it does happen.

Naturally there isn’t going to be an option out there that delivers on every requirement. So as I mentioned earlier it might be best to adjust the requirements, or consider building a custom LMS.

I’ve come across a handful of custom learning management systems and I have to say that they are pretty sleek.

This approach generally works best if the organization creating the LMS has the means of supporting it in-house. This allows for adjustments to be made over time as needed.

To minimize both risk and cost of a custom LMS build you can leverage an open source LMS and build upon the core features that are already available. This way you can focus on adding just the functionality that is necessary for your program.

Or if you’re so inclined (and have the budget for it) you can build one completely from the ground-up. This way you are guaranteed that it works exactly the way you need it to.

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About the Author:

Justin Ferriman is the co-founder and CEO of LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by the world's leading organizations, such as the University of Michigan, Digital Marketer, WPEngine, and Infusionsoft. Justin has made a career as an elearning consultant where he has implemented large-scale training programs for Fortune 500 companies. Twitter | LinkedIn

3 Comments
  1. I’m not sure what this says about LearnDash. Can you clarify? I left for Captivate Prime because I needed more than I can do here, with Grassblade, which was a big expense making in more for me to learn, and unwieldy.

    I did love having it on my own site though. Can you teach me more about this, and what you recommend? I teach struggling readers, so they need pictures and large text.

    What should I do?I wish I didn’t have to use Captivate at all, as I stink at it! 😉

    Thanks for any ideas.

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