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5 key tips to evaluate LMS vendors

• 4 min read

Are LMS vendors all Equal?

The general conception about salespeople is that they are all about pushing services/ products. However, at Docebo we have a slightly different concept of selling. For us the highest priority is meeting needs and filling gaps so we first offer customers the freedom to experience the LMS via 14 day free trial and then we try to understand where the gaps are which need mapping. This differentiates us from any other LMS vendor in the market and many of our customers appreciate the openness. Having said that, choosing the right vendor for any software is always a challenge and especially when it is an LMS – then the task is herculean as there are so many LMS players in the market. But not to worry, here are few tips which will help you to evaluate the right LMS vendor for you 🙂


  1. Define Business Needs

With the evolution of the LMS over past decade we all know that LMSs are becoming one of the key software requirements for delivering blended learning for L&D and training, and often it is considered “mission critical” as well when it comes to people management and training management.

Hence before even starting an evaluation of an LMS vendor, it is very important for L&D or HR to identify the key needs they want to address through an LMS. For this it is advisable to decide on the following: What are the key goals (both short term and long term) you wish to achieve at an organisational level? What data will be required for the analysis? What target audience will the LMS be catering to? What kind of content do you wish to deliver? What kind of budget you are willing to spend? and so on. Once all these things are decided and identified it gives a clear picture about what might best fit the bill.

  1. Draft an RFP / RFI

Once you are aware of your business case, try to put those requirements into a RFP or RFI format.  Try to categorise your requirements into: ‘must-have’, ‘nice to have’ and ‘not mandatory’. This will allow you to better evaluate LMS vendors and it is important that the vendor you shortlist satisfies most of the requirements in the ‘must-have’ category.  Most of the rest can either be customised or can be discussed with the vendor – for example whether they’re part of the vendor’s future roadmap. This process will help you to eliminate the vendors that do not match your requirements and you can then shortlist a few of the nearest matches that satisfy your ‘must-have’ list.


  1.  Due Diligence and Filtering

Once you prepare the RFP / RFI do a bit of research based on your requirements and try to identify the best LMS vendors according to them. Share your RFI / RFP with the LMS vendor and ask for their responses to each point with details like comments and specifications. Ask vendors to provide as much information as they can when replying to the RFI / RFP. Once you get vendor responses back, filter 3 to 4 that are the closest match to your requirements. This will narrow down your search for the right LMS vendor and will bring you very close to the perfect one. Do a thorough due diligence on all the shortlisted vendors. Some standard methods of due diligence are through references, social media, various social forums, client lists, company, locations, total number of installations so far, management, technical know-how, etc.  A point system will help you to decide on the final score. It’s not necessary that all vendors have a perfect 10/10 score in each section, but you may still want to evaluate them because of some other matching criteria.

  1. Ask for a free trial and demo

Once the LMS vendors are shortlisted based on RFP / RFI responses, try to arrange for an LMS demo along with the other stakeholders. Do ensure that you have your evaluation sheet and RFI response with you during the demo. Many times I have observed that clients do not bother to go through this step and tend to simply rely on the RFI / RFP responses received. However, my recommendation is that this is the most vital step in overall evaluation, and skipping this step may lead to issues in the future. Sometimes responses in RFI / RFP may be misinterpreted and there could be a gap in understanding the requirements. Hence I strongly recommend this process as mandatory and one must dedicate time to the task until all the functionalities are seen and understood. If possible ask LMS vendors to map the RFP / RFI response along with the live demo. Do ask as many questions as possible and involve all the important key stakeholders in the demo process. Pre and post demo ask for a free trial of the LMS software so that you can test-drive it at your end.

  1. Technical Evaluation & References

Once you have narrowed down your search to a couple of LMS vendors and you are satisfied with the functional requirements as per your business needs, do involve your IT team if possible. The IT department plays a very important role in the evaluation of any software product and they have a vision of where your organisation is heading from an IT perspective. Hence taking their view into consideration does help to ensure that you are shortlisting a vendor that aligns with your IT policies and there will be no (unwelcome) surprises for you during implementation. In my LMS sales career I have seen many cases where IT was not involved until the very end and then they come up with a very strict criteria for the software product to be implemented. So my recommendation would be to involve the IT department from the beginning if possible to avoid such scenarios.

I am sure there are few more things one needs to look for whilst shortlisting an LMS, but these 5 are the most important steps and will certainly help you along the way – I am sure once you go through them you will be able to find the LMS that matches your requirements. I would be happy to hear your views and whether you have an essential steps to add to my 5!