Why You Should Run From All-In-One

swiss-army-phoneAs technology becomes more advanced, it is often well-received when there is a solution that comes along that attempts to make things a little bit easier.

Whether it’s easier to use, manage, or understand, it tends to be an attractive option at some level.

In the world of learning management systems, this is often in the form of “all-in-one” solutions.

A favorite technique of infomercials for years, the “all-in-one” offering is tempting. Why would you want to do “more” when you can do “less”?

But a jack-of-all-trades is seldom the master at one.

Learning management systems that claim that they have everything you could possibly need are doing customers a disservice. The reality is that there is not a single LMS out there that can fulfill this promise (believe me, if it were possible we would have done it by now).

As a solution provider, stepping away from the “all-in-one” approach means that you are admitting you’re not good at all things, and this can be scary. However, at the same time you are doing your customers a huge favor. You are giving them access to solutions by people who are experts in their field.

Let’s consider an example. When we first launched the LearnDash, customers often asked us to create an online forum within the software that could be used in conjunction with courses, and we researched what it would take to do so.

After serious consideration, we opted against it. Mainly because we weren’t forum experts, and we also didn’t want to bloat our LMS with a feature that may not be used by a portion of users.

That said, we still felt it necessary to give people a forum option, and it turns out that the same folks behind WordPress are also behind an extremely popular forum solution – all we had to do was link our offering to theirs.

In the end this became a win-win situation. We didn’t have to pretend to be forum experts. We didn’t have to learn all about how forums worked, enhance forum functionality over time, and so on. On the flip-side, our customers ultimately got access to the best, most popular forum solution for WordPress.

This is just one example of course, but I think it highlights my main point. In the context of learning management systems, when providers attempt to build every imaginable feature into their solution, it is bound to fall short somewhere. It could be in the software’s performance, the quality of the support provided, or in relation to feature development and maintenance over time.

Avoid the headaches and stay away from the “all-in-one” (“magic-pill”) solution.

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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

One Comment
  1. Wilco

    Hi Justin,

    Lot’s of businesspeople want and LMS and are looking for a cheep easy solution. New solutions for LMS are coming almost monthly now. For some people one of them could be a good solution. It al depents of what they, or beter, their customers need. For some the new all-in-one solutions could be oke, depending on the goals and strategy they have. But I also see peoply buying an LMS and paying 50 or more bucks each month and struggeling to get it working. Some people never get it working.

    The problem is that lots of businesspeople don’t know much about LMS. They are happy when they see a new easy and cheep LMS and start using it without doing enough research. So when they start using the LMS they find that their LMS is missing some functionality. Sometimes they blame the developer, but they should look in the mirror.

    For building courses and working with it in a LMS you needs specific skills and you need to know more then you can read in a brochure.

    You can buy an LMS after checking a good deal for 1 or 2 hours. But that is bad thinking. Before buying anything do this:
    – write down your goals (short and longterm)
    – ask your costumers what kind of functionality they (think they) need
    – go to a LMS-forum, for example Learndash, and read all supportposts for the last 3 months (that helps very much to understand things)
    – write a LMS-plan (functionality, costs, supporttime,….)
    – check out at least 3 different LMS and discover the difference
    – make a small course with a few lessons and topics
    – get a testdrive on the LMS you think fits you and put your course in it and start using it bij sending the course to yourself and some testers (not only experienced people, also newbies)
    – after one month of testdriving the LMS you have a much much beter understanding of your customers needs, your goals and your strategy. You now know more about the LMS you need.
    – write down al functionality you need your LMS to have
    – reset your goals and write a new LMS plan now you understand things beter
    – start searching for the LMS you realy need (if the testdrive didn’t fit)

    Wilco

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