So, you've reached a point where you need to manage five semi-neglected Excel sheets to keep up with training and development. Let's not forget the daily checks on the expiry date of the certifications of over 200 employees. And make sure to start in time for the end-of-year business meeting, as the managers asked you to share a few relevant insights on L&D data, which means you’ve got some reporting to do.
Feeling energized? Or rather slightly stressed out just by reading this?
Perhaps it might be time to invest in a learning platform. However, in this jungle of technology and promises of enhanced efficiency, selecting the right platform can be daunting.
Should you prioritize a better learning experience? Or focus on process automation? Or maybe your goal is to finally achieve reliable and comprehensive reporting?
To help you make the right choice, you may want to ask yourself the following three questions:
1. Why do we need one?
Before diving into platform options, the first thing to do is determining your company's needs. Do you want to empower employees to take charge of their own development? Or is your main focus on reporting and analytics capabilities? Whether it involves organizing training materials, creating content, or automating certain processes, defining the needed functionalities is crucial.
These brainstorms, preferably in consultation with a select group of key stakeholders (including IT, HR, L&D, business managers …), often lead to extensive lists of requirements. To avoid getting lost in the rabbit hole of expectations, try to prioritize must-have features over nice-to-haves, before moving on to the next steps. Also, always keep in mind the end-user, your learning audience. (And for a better understanding of their needs, don’t be afraid to get some input from their side as well.)
Not sure where to begin? You can find LMS checklists online to get an idea of what the functionalities could be, ranging from dashboarding and interface to reporting and compatibility.
To avoid getting lost in the rabbit hole of expectations, try to prioritize must-have features over nice-to-haves.
2. Who will use and manage it?
A clutter-free application with a clean look & feel and accurate data output: a dream of many platform managers. However, this might become a challenge when distributing admin roles and responsibilities like Halloween candy. So clearly defining who will take on which role is probably a smart thing to do.
In most cases, there will be a central admin role for HR, maybe even a dedicated L&D colleague, often supported by IT, who can offer technical assistance when needed.
But what should employees, team leaders and managers be able to do themselves?
Well, it can be a good idea to make a first draft of your ‘user stories’: short descriptions of the features a certain user requires to achieve a particular outcome. These are often written down like this: “As a -team leader- I want to -receive training approval requests by mail- so that I -can keep track of my team's training enrollments-.”
You can finetune these user stories later, when actually setting up the platform together with the vendor, but at this stage, they can help you stick to what’s important.
Furthermore, user stories can serve as a barometer to check if the user-friendliness of a platform aligns with the users' skills. This is important when deciding between a potentially complex yet highly customizable tool or a simpler, more intuitive option, but limited in its functionalities.
In most cases, there will be a central admin role for HR often supported by IT. But what should employees, team leaders and managers be able to do themselves?
3. What are our options?
Next up: exploring the market!
LMS, LXP, LRS, … - what do these terms even mean? The abundance of platform options and their specific features can be overwhelming, so it might be a good idea to familiarize yourself with some basic concepts.
A fun way to get introduced is the L&D Word Project, where you can browse or search for common L&D terms, though it's worth noting that it may not cover everything.
For instance, an LMS (Learning Management System) primarily focuses on managing, cataloging and reporting, while an LXP (Learning Experience Platform) emphasizes the learning experience and community building.
Apart from exploring various platform options, you should also consider compatibility requirements; you probably will need a bridge of communication between different applications. For example for maintaining an up-to-date user database or having the ability to import certain e-learning materials. These are some important questions you may want to address with the help of your technical experts.
While it's obvious that the wide range of learning solutions comes with varying costs, it's important not to overlook other expenses like implementation, potential hypercare fees and ongoing maintenance charges. Assess your in-house expertise and determine what aspects might need to be outsourced and what not.
Apart from exploring various platform options, you should also take compatibility requirements into consideration.
Talk to vendors and compare
Once you have a clear understanding of your needs, platform options, and user requirements, you can confidently engage with potential vendors. Requesting demos can help you to visualize the platform's features and assess its user-friendliness.
When assessing the price tag, carefully examine the structure (and transparency!) of their pricing model. What’s their base price, which features are included and for which ones do you pay extra (now or in the long run)?
When eventually comparing vendors and their products, involve all relevant stakeholders in the decision-making process to ensure collective support for the final choice.
By following these steps, you can select a learning platform that best suits your company's needs and objectives, without feeling overwhelmed and being persuaded into unnecessary functionalities.
TriHD offers a new combination of services that integrates transition and support with pragmatic advisory and implementation. If you are looking for support to set up your learning platform, don’t hesitate to contact us!