The LMS implementation checklist that works (& how to do it yourself)

• 7 min read

The ultimate LMS implementation checklist that actually works!From start to finish, LMS implementation requires a lot of heavy lifting. It’s a team effort, and you can’t just close your eyes and hope that things will fall into place. You need all of your people ready to hit the ground running and set to strategize to make your LMS dreams come true. ✨ We wanted to offer our two cents on the matter, so… voila! Your LMS implementation checklist is below – you can thank us later 😘

    1. Identify and define your learning objectives and goals
    2. Evaluate your data models and resources before solidifying your timeline
    3. Product sourcing
    4. Establish a plan and timeframe for your project plan
    5. Build your extended team
    6. Get stakeholder support (make sure your plan works for the organization’s needs)
    7. Prepare for deployment and administration
    8. Prepare for data migration
    9. Ensure you have quality e-learning content
    10. Create points of contact
    11. Set your IT team up for success
    12. Follow LMS best practices as outlined by your provider
    13. Test your LMS system
    14. Conduct a soft launch
    15. Final rollout

The ultimate LMS implementation checklist that actually works!

Identify and define your learning objectives and goals

Nothing like starting with a little bit of self-reflection. This is where you want to evaluate where your organization is sitting currently, where you want to be, and what you need to do in the learning space to get you to your ideal place.

Start to gather an inventory of your current limitations and pains, and map out what challenges you could solve if those didn’t exist. You should also begin to consider what you want your new learning management system (LMS) user experience to look and feel like: communities, portals, classrooms, etc. By deciding what the journey should look like, you become a more empowered buyer than one who simply operates off of a functional requirements wish-list. You very well may need gamification, e-commerce, single sign-on, and webinars, but you first need to look at the bigger picture. Are you taking notes yet?

Evaluate your data models and resources before solidifying your timeline

After you’ve done some heavy brainstorming to begin your LMS project plan 🧠, you need to gather additional resources and information before you even start looking at learning solutions. There’s a lot more work that goes into an LMS than simply saying you need something, buying it, and setting it up. People sometimes underestimate this preparation piece that happens before the sales cycle.

Here are some questions to consider:

❓ Do you have the information you need to create an LMS (i.e. content source files, a HR system or user database that you can rely on, someone to administer the platform, any particular branding, etc.)?

❓ What additional resources do you need and do you already have them? Do you need to hire a Project Manager, IT Consultant, LMS expert/admin, or otherwise bulk up an existing team to get a new system up and running?

❓ Do you have clean data that is manageable? Do you know who will work to get you everything you need, data-wise and content-wise, in your system?

*Crowdsourcing years’ worth of content is a multi-departmental effort, and it requires going through all necessary files and assets to make sure they’re downloadable and fit into whatever system you’re going to buy. Sometimes this even means going to individual departments and asking for proper courses and SCORM files before you even purchase and set up.*

❓Do you know what information you already have, what you’d like to move into your new LMS, and perhaps even what information can be archived?

Product sourcing

Next, you’ll want to create a detailed ‘functionality matrix’ or requirements list based on your current and future needs to ensure you’re purchasing a product that helps you scale (you’ll want to make sure you check those boxes off too!).

Take full advantage of the sales cycle, and take your time to find a product that fits your needs, along with a vendor that wants you to succeed. (Actual footage of you avoiding unnecessary challenges down the road after making your functionality matrix or requirements list)

Establish a plan and timeframe for your project plan

Once you’ve started thinking about how you’re going to crowdsource the information and data you need internally, you can begin to set a timeframe for your LMS implementation project plan. These questions below will help to write your timeline:

❓When would be the best time to go live with a new system? Do you have an existing driver such as a big initiative, end of a contract for another system, or perhaps a major business pain point to solve ASAP?

❓When do you think you can give complete focus to your project? Who is going to be responsible for this? When is your current system expiring? How much time do you anticipate content creation or vetting to take? Do you need to hire a project manager, and how long will this take?

❓How many user profiles and software programs do you need to migrate into your LMS?

Build your extended team

The next step in building out your own LMS implementation process is to assemble your core team and team leaders. Your dream team members can be made up of LMS administrators, and a collection of people from HR, IT, Learning and Development, Training, and Management. This will be your implementation team that drives the project full steam ahead. Rockstars only, please.

Get stakeholder support (make sure your plan works for the organization’s needs)

Your stakeholders need to be in conversations early because these are the folks who are directly involved with and affected by the LMS. You need their support to make sure they are ready to commit themselves to this project. If you don’t have stakeholder buy-in, it can cost you the ROI of your learning platform and result in low adoption 💸.

Prepare for deployment and administration

Once you’ve built your team and delegated your team leads, you’ll want to make sure they’re beginning to plan employee training for when the program has been deployed and tested.

Prepare for data migration (if needed)

You’ll find that data migration looks different depending on whether you’re using an on-premise LMS or a cloud-based LMS system ☁️ (we like the cloud the best, over here 😉). Either way, data migration will require hands-on effort from your IT department or your LMS vendor who will need to account for which courses, assets, and data you’ll be transitioning into your new system. Even if courses are SCORM compliant, sometimes adjustments still need to be made to conduct this type of system integration, and it’s important to come together to strategize which courses need to be brought over.

Ensure you have quality e-learning content

Creating content from scratch is time-consuming, and if this is your game plan, make sure you have a solid authoring tool to help your content creators build enough content to start you off. You may also consider evaluating a third-party content provider so you have a bigger arsenal of content for when your LMS begins to scale. Make sure you have the headcount to manage, create, or source content in your LMS as well.

Create points of contact

A successful implementation is a multi-departmental effort, as numerous business units will be using the new LMS. Because of this, you’ll want to make sure that these departments remain engaged and involved in the conversations surrounding implementation and which content should live in the new LMS platform. In addition, ensure that throughout the process, you’re continually engaging your stakeholders and key users so that you remain focussed on the challenges that your LMS solution is out to solve.

Set your IT team up for success

A successful LMS implementation usually does not happen without your IT team, as they are the ones conducting your data migrations, data security management, LMS integrations, software authentications, and system configurations. That’s a lot of heavy lifting, so it’s imperative that you ensure they are present during the rollout of your LMS implementation plan so that they can execute accordingly.

Follow LMS best practices as outlined by your provider

We know that people love doing things for themselves, but it’s important to remember that every LMS provider, though perhaps offering similar functionality or packages, all operate differently. Each learning management system implementation has different best practices that ensure your onboarding is seamless. Trust your vendor’s guidance, ask for their specific best practices, and use their resources so that you’re able to contribute to your own success. Here’s what you don’t want anyone during implementation to feel like because they didn’t take their vendor’s advice:

Test your LMS system

This is where taking full advantage of the sales cycle comes in. Test, test again, and test some more – or have the vendor’s sales team demo very specific, detailed scenarios so that you feel confident in what you’re diving into.

It’s also important to conduct user acceptance testing (UAT). This is where your QA team or admin team goes into your system and follows a very specific script of the journey to take (how to log in, where exactly to click around, etc.) to make sure specific scenarios function exactly how they’re supposed to. It’s important to conduct these tests before any end-users ever touch the platform for the first time. Don’t take it from us though, take it from Lisa!

Conduct a soft launch

The soft launch in implementation (otherwise known as the beta or pilot period) is where you ask a small group of users (who are not a part of the implementation project team) to use the platform and give you feedback. 👍🏽 This is an important step because you get feedback from people who are not familiar with the program, especially not in the same way your QA and admin teams are.

You’ll want very timely feedback, and this soft launch should last around between two and four weeks. This helps you ensure that everything works as it’s supposed to and helps uncover what doesn’t make sense, what is confusing, and what needs fixing from the perspective of a brand new and less experienced user. You can also get a lot of excitement, buy-in, and marketing material from your soft launch by conducting surveys after the launch. You can use quotes from the feedback to create blogs, newsletters, videos, and more to hype up your learning program so that when you go live with your full audience, you have user testimonials to get people excited and spark adoption.

Final rollout

This is your moment to shine where the rest of the company will finally start to benefit from all of the work you put in! Take your time and collect feedback from different teams as you implement the final stages of your LMS. It takes a lot of work, but seeing your learners through to this point is what it’s all about. 😊

That’s all folks!

Ready to make some moves? Get the LMS Toolkit for everything you need to know to get executive level buy-in and launch your learning platform project.

The ultimate LMS implementation checklist that actually works!