We live in a knowledge economy. And what’s the currency of choice in a knowledge economy? You guessed it, learning.
That’s exactly why businesses of all shapes and sizes need a strong learning and development strategy to stay competitive and navigate ever-shifting market trends.
But how can you effectively create engaging and valuable learning experiences without breaking the bank?
Enter—Learning Management Systems (LMSs).
These learning platforms help organizations foster a culture of continuous development and learning.
Our ultimate guide covers the fundamentals you need to know before investing in an LMS. We’ll break down:
An LMS is a software platform used to plan, deliver, track, and evaluate learning in an organization. It’s typically used by businesses, higher education institutions, and non-profit organizations to manage training activities.
LMSs consist of two main parts:
We can use LMSs to supplement and track in-person instruction, deliver training fully online, or as part of a blended learning approach.
Top LMSs, such as Docebo, come with features to identify skill gaps and training needs using data, analytics, and reporting.
In general, LMSs are software as a service (SaaS) products, but there are different licensing and pricing models to fit different needs.
To cut a long story short, LMSs enhance the learning process in your organization and come with significant benefits (more on that later).
Now let’s explore the difference between an LMS and LCMS.
The difference between LMSs and Learning Content Management Systems (LCMSs) is that an LCMS is an authoring tool for creating e-learning content.
With an LCMS, you can create online courses and deliver them via an LMS.
An LCMS doesn’t have the LMS features, such as learning content delivery, tracking, etc.
LCMSs complement LMSs.
However, these days, many LMSs also have in-built LCMS features. This means you can create learning content and deliver it to learners all from one learning platform.
This streamlines the learning process in your organization and also has cost-saving benefits.
Alternatively, look out for an LMS that integrates with leading LCMSs. That way, you can create a seamless workflow when creating, delivering, and updating training materials.
Now, LMS, CMS—what exactly is the difference? Find out in the next section.
The difference between LMSs and Content Management Systems (CMSs) is that a CMS is a general tool for managing web content, while an LMS focuses on delivering, managing, and tracking learning content.
CMSs, such as WordPress or Joomla, allow individuals and organizations to easily run a website and create, publish, and maintain content.
Simply put, CMSs lack the basic LMS features that are necessary to efficiently deliver and track learning content and experiences.
Now that we finally cleared up the differences between an LMS, LCMS, and CMS, it’s time to look at the benefits of LMSs.
Using an LMS for your organization’s employee training and other learning experiences has quite a few benefits.
From reducing the development cost of training materials to increasing knowledge retention, LMS software can supercharge how people learn in your company and help turn it into a proper learning organization.
Next, we break down the main benefits of an LMS for both training program administrators and learners.
There’s a lot to consider when designing learning experiences. Defining learning objectives, creating training material, choosing a content delivery method, tracking learner progress, etc. It’s a lot to manage.
Fortunately, LMS software can reduce the workloads for training administrators in a number of ways. Here’s how.
Let’s not beat around the bush. Learning is important, but it isn’t always cheap.
This goes especially for in-person training.
Factor in the costs of several instructors, venues, travel costs, etc., and it all balloons quite fast.
So, from a cost-saving perspective, an LMS is a total no-brainer.
Online learning through an LMS platform lets learners access e-learning courses and VILT sessions from anywhere and at any time. Mobile learning increases availability and flexibility even more.
LMSs, therefore, reduce learning and development costs by letting you design your course and training materials once and then reuse them with minimal hassle.
As a result, paying the LMS vendor impacts your bottom line much less than organizing training seminars over and over again.
LMSs truly excel when keeping track of learner progress and analyzing the effectiveness of learning experiences.
Through powerful reporting features and data analytics, you can keep track of various metrics, such as completion rates and engagement.
Most good LMS software lets you do all of this in real-time.
It’s very important to know how your online training is performing. Are learners meeting the learning goals?
Whether you have only 10 learners or even 10,000, you can track their progress at an individual, team, or organizational level.
Online learning delivered through LMS software also beats traditional methods when it comes to efficiency.
Classic onboarding means a lot of in-person training in a classroom-like setting. To enable this, everyone needs to take time away from their core tasks, and that impacts productivity.
But when onboarding, customer, or partner training takes place via easily-accessible online modules, learners can take in the material faster. And you don’t waste any time rescheduling a training session for a specific location and time.
Most modern LMS platforms are mobile-friendly, so your new hires, customers, or partners can access learning materials on the go. This reduces training times even more.
Compliance training is a fact of life. Governments and regulatory bodies make laws, and you have to follow them.
Whether it’s health and safety or anti-harassment training, using an LMS can help you stay compliant.
When conducting any kind of regulatory compliance training, you want to leave an audit trail showing that learners actually undertook and then completed the training.
An LMS is a great way to do this. Powerful certification features and built-in completion rate tracking means you’ll always know which employees have taken compliance training and which still need to.
LMS admin can set up reminder notifications to automatically be sent from the platform when it’s time for an employee to take (or retake) a compliance training course.
Plus, delivering recurring compliance training through an LMS means you only need to design the training content once. After that, you simply reuse it whenever you get a new hire, or you’re mandated by law to repeat the training course.
Measuring learning outcomes and how they connect to organizational performance is one of the tougher tasks for any company.
But, LMSs help. Most of these e-learning platforms generate a lot of metrics automatically to show just how effective your training programs are.
Completion rates and user engagement are two important metrics. You can also use your LMS for course assessments by comparing how well learners are doing on follow-up tests and assignments.
There are, of course, metrics that you’ll have to collect outside of the LMS, such as those about profitability and return on investment.
But, by using LMS-generated metrics in tandem, you can get a good picture of how your training materials are impacting the rest of your organization.
Your HR department and your instructors are not the only ones who can see the benefits of using an LMS.
Your employees will benefit as well.
The forgetting curve comes for us all. Right after the webinar is done, learners may forget up to 70% of what they just learned.
It’s hard to fight it, but LMSs can help.
Employees can access training materials on the LMS at any time and from anywhere.
As a result, your learners can always get a quick refresh when they need it. This is especially useful during onboarding or partner training, which typically has a lot of information coming your learner’s way.
Most companies in the world, 87% of them actually, know they have skill gaps.
These are the differences between the skills employees have and those they need to have to perform their jobs successfully.
At the same time, employees do want to learn. In fact, 94% of employees would stay in a company if it provided career development opportunities.
Learning helps close skill gaps, engage workers, and provide opportunities for career advancement.
Using LMS software lets you deliver all that learning and training content in a centralized and easy-to-track way. This means employees have access to more training and opportunities to upskill.
Speaking of skill gaps, LMS analytics provide actionable data that enables teams to spot skill gaps and low-performance indicators.
This can be used to improve current training, identify where additional training is needed, and address low performance in other ways.
Additionally, the best LMSs have features to create engaging training and promote a learning culture. As a result, your employees will feel supported in their professional development.
Another plus—engaged and satisfied employees are more productive!
A staggering 74% percent of employees say that a lack of employee development opportunities is holding them back from reaching their full potential.
At the same time, as the millennial generation is taking over the workforce, things like learning culture are fast becoming more important than money.
So, if you want to increase employee satisfaction and engagement, fostering a learning environment is the way to go.
An LMS is a great tool to create that learning environment and foster a learning culture in your organization.
As well as delivering formal training courses, many leading LMSs come with tools for informal learning. For instance, with Docebo, employees can share knowledge resources with their peers and ask in-company experts questions about training topics directly from the platform. All of this creates a continuous learning environment for employees.
The stats don’t lie—keeping employees happy and satisfied is all about providing them with growth opportunities.
Up next, we go over the most common use cases for LMS software.
LMSs are very versatile software applications. Higher education institutions, non-profits, and businesses use them for a variety of different purposes.
In general, if it has to do with learning content, an LMS is the way to go.
To illustrate this, we’ll go over the seven most common use cases for an LMS.
Many companies think they only need an LMS for employee training, but this is far from the truth.
An LMS-delivered online course is a great way to do customer training. Onboard new customers to your product or service by offering information such as tutorials in the form of easily accessible and engaging online courses.
Your customers can refer to the learning materials whenever they need to know something about the product. Increasing product knowledge for customers also takes some of the burdens away from the customer support team.
Another benefit: online customer training is much cheaper than in-person product demos.
Another external use case for an LMS is partner training.
Just like with customer training, an LMS lets you create product training materials that you can then share with your resellers, franchisees, or other partners.
Since partners are often the face of your brand, you want to give them a lot of product knowledge so they can serve customers better.
Compared to offline learning methods, such as workshops and in-person product training, offering the training content through an LMS means saving money and time. It also allows your partners to access product knowledge materials whenever they need to.
LMSs are not just for higher education and companies. Professional associations of all kinds use LMSs to do member training.
No matter how many members your association has, you can benefit from member training by increasing engagement through modern learning experiences.
Good LMSs allow associations to give a fully branded (and secure) experience via white labeling and single sign-on.
Associations can provide member training through an LMS in the form of webinars, online courses, and other learning experiences.
Onboarding is a crucial time when a new employee is getting to know the company and the demands of their role.
It’s important to get it right, but also to shorten the time spent on it so that your new hire can hit the ground running.
Using a corporate LMS, you can deliver all the relevant information online so that your new employees can study them anytime.
Let’s be honest. Onboarding is pretty stressful, and new hires get hit with so much new info that’s impossible to take in all at once. That’s why having your employee handbook and all other relevant policies available on mobile devices is great.
By streamlining employee onboarding this way, you get to deal with the nicer parts of it in person, such as the meets and greets, and the office tours. Let an LMS take care of the rest.
Do you remember when we told you that 94% of employees say career development is the top reason they’d choose to stay with an employer?
Learning and development are a natural fit for an LMS.
An LMS can deliver a range of training content in different forms. Self-paced online courses, discussion forums, peer-to-peer learning, etc.
The social learning features alone make an LMS a powerful tool to promote teamwork and engagement.
An LMS puts all the training content your employees need under one easy-to-access roof. This prevents knowledge siloes and empowers employees to find the answers to their questions on their own.
Thanks to all the tracking and analysis features, it’s easy to assign the right courses to the right employees so you can be sure they are developing the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities.
Your Sales department is the most vital function of your organization. It’s also the most high-pressure and dynamic one.
Markets change, selling techniques evolve, and new products and services drop all the time.
Delivering online training through a corporate LMS is the fastest and most cost-effective way to get all that new and necessary information to your Sales team. This is especially important for sales reps out in the field.
Instead of wasting valuable time with endless meetings and product demonstrations, all the product knowledge your sales reps need is distributed conveniently just by updating existing online courses and knowledge databases.
Nobody loves compliance training, but it’s both necessary and mandatory.
Thanks to their tracking and certification features, LMSs are a natural fit for any kind of compliance training.
For regulatory compliance, LMSs make the process of creating an audit trail fast and automatic. You can easily track completion and certification.
Another great benefit of using an LMS is that all your compliance policies will “live” on your LMS. So, any employee can easily access them anytime they need to refresh their knowledge.
In the next section, we’ll be discussing the key features to be on the lookout for when choosing the best LMS for your organization.
Modern LMS software is chock-full of useful and interesting features to create top-notch learning experiences.
From accessibility to nifty AI-powered stuff, there’s a lot to make your learning strategy effective and efficient.
So here are 13 of the features we think are key and to consider when choosing an LMS.
One thing you want in your LMS of choice is an intuitive user interface. And boy, do most LMS vendors deliver these days.
It’s no secret that some early LMSs had interfaces that often confused learners.
That’s a thing of the past, you’ll be glad to know.
A modern LMS platform should be easy-to-use, so nothing stands in the way of learning.
An intuitive user interface isn’t just a nice thing to have. It will increase course attendance, interaction with training materials, and completion rates.
Think about it. If the LMS is a pain to use, your learners will be less motivated to even log in, let alone complete the course.
When you’re setting up an online course, you want all your learners to be able to take advantage of it.
Accessibility is a strong point for LMSs. They can deliver learning experiences that are accessible to everyone. No matter their learning style, ability, or needs.
This is because it’s easy to deliver different kinds of training materials through an LMS.
Your training program can have everything ranging from recorded lectures, PowerPoint presentations, quizzes, interactive exercises, and games.
An LMS also supports many types of content (e.g., text, audio, video, and static images).
By combining these, you can make sure there’s something in your online course that appeals to every type of learner.
Admin. It just gets in the way, doesn’t it? Here you are trying to design a lovely learning experience, but there are so many repetitive tasks.
Well, if you use an LMS, its automation features lighten the administrative load.
You can automate common and repetitive tasks like user grouping and new user population.
This leaves you free to focus on things that matter, such as optimizing the learning process.
Even if you’re a small business, you’ll probably need to carry out more than one type of training.
Compliance and onboarding, at the very least.
No matter how many different training courses you need to offer, you can bring them all into a single LMS platform.
This saves time and money. Also, it lets you track learner progress across your entire learning and development strategy. All from one place, all the data is easily accessible.
Say goodbye to fragmented and disorganized training programs. LMSs consolidate and centralize to make deploying learning experiences more convenient.
Personalized learning is all the rage these days. It makes sense. We’re all different, so we learn differently, too.
There are benefits to this. When learners engage with learning content that seems tailor-made just for them, it increases their engagement and learning retention.
Thanks to AI-powered features, LMSs can enable personalized learning in your organization.
For example, Docebo’s AI tags all training resources so that it’s easier to find and suggest content that’s relevant to learners’ interests and professional development. Learners can search for training content on the platform based on the skills they want to build.
The AI-powered Invite to Watch feature automatically generates a list of peers who have engaged with similar training content. This allows employees to easily share content with the team members who will value it most, promoting social learning.
This is possibly the most important function of an LMS and the reason so many organizations are now using them.
LMSs let you track and manage course content creation, certification, and retraining all from one location.
It means you’ll always know who needs to be trained, when, and how.
Collecting all the necessary data in one place makes it easier to identify skill gaps and drive up learner engagement.
It may just so happen that your company does business internationally. Maybe your workforce spans the globe, or it’s your customers. Or both.
In that case, LMSs offer useful localization features. Language localization and global payment gateways for e-commerce mean you can deploy your learning content anywhere in the world.
Again, it’s all centralized and managed from a single location.
Any LMS worth its salt should be at least SCORM-compliant. That means it will support learning content packaged according to that standard.
Better LMSs also offer support for AICC and xAPI.
These are interoperability standards that make it easy to bring learning content from one LMS to another, install upgrades, and purchase learning content from various vendors.
Having an LMS that is compliant with these standards saves a lot of headaches and gives you the peace of mind to mix and match learning content from various sources.
Mobile devices rule the roost in any tech segment, and today’s learners want their learning experiences to be high-tech.
That means mobile learning.
Give learners what they want while enjoying the benefits of easy access and learning on demand.
Opting for an LMS with its own user-friendly native mobile app will ensure your training is accessible to all employees right when they need it.
Companies these days have to use a lot of different software applications.
This is why a powerful LMS offers integrations with various plugins and other platforms, including video conferencing tools. It streamlines the user experience for employees, saving valuable time spent toggling between multiple tools.
Many LMS solutions can integrate with Microsoft SharePoint, for example.
Integrations also include many of the most popular project management apps, webinar platforms, and HR software.
So, when choosing an LMS, always make sure it can integrate with other tools in your organization’s tech stack.
Gamification is not just for smartphone fitness apps.
It’s also a hot trend in learning experience design that LMSs let you take advantage of.
Gamification incorporates video game elements like points, badges, and achievements into learning experiences.
It’s the kind of stuff your younger cousins love on Xbox Live—it turns out they also motivate the heck out of your learners.
Learner engagement has a positive impact on completion rates and knowledge retention, so consider adding gamified features to your next training course.
Regardless of your LMS budget, an integrated content marketplace is a nice feature to have.
Learners can get access to courses and learning material right from the LMS, putting them in driving seat.
If you’re looking for a true one-stop shop for your learning and development needs, then an LMS with a content marketplace is the way to go.
A robust LMS arms your organization with tools like customizable reports and dashboards that offer deep learning insights.
HR and L&D teams can pull custom reports to track learner activity and measure the impact of the training on your organization.
Plus, you’ll be able to see how engaging your training courses are and how well your learners are retaining knowledge.
All of this is essential for a successful L&D strategy.
Up next, we recap the LMS essentials you need to know.
Almost every organization on the planet has or is planning to add an LMS to its tech stack. From creating and delivering training to tracking results, an LMS facilitates workplace learning, increasing employee retention and engagement as a result.
With so many benefits, choosing the right LMS is the key to doing learning and development right.
The best way to do this is to compare its features with your organizational needs, goals, and structure. Is it mobile-friendly? Can you upload existing training content? Is it scalable? Does it integrate with your existing corporate tools?
All of this matters when it comes to picking an LMS that aligns with your business.
Are you an L&D or HR professional looking to explore how training can impact your business? Head over to our glossary for an A-Z guide to all things learning.