The biggest disappointment users had with their learning management systems, according to a 2015 Capterra survey, was not a lack of training availability or poor customer support — it was a lack of features. This means that before you start researching LMS providers, you need to figure out what exactly your association needs in an LMS. If you know your needs before you start shopping around, your association can minimize buyer’s remorse.
Put your institutional knowledge to work
First, you’ll need some institutional knowledge. How did the conversation about looking for an LMS begin? Were executives looking to solve a problem, such as a way to reuse older content, or were they hoping to expand staff capacity by taking member accreditation tracking and payments for training materials off staff to-do lists? These goals point to features like easy uploading of programming, reporting and tracking and e-Commerce.
Being familiar with staff skills gives you an idea of whether simple training and support are enough or whether your association needs an LMS provider with advanced, one-on-one options for getting your staff updated on administration of the system.
You’ll also want to take into account not only the current situation, but also future needs. If you have plans for growth, you’ll need to make sure your LMS provider supports scalability.
Survey your stakeholders
Next, you’ll need to gather information from stakeholders to give you the full picture of your association’s needs. Get to know your audience by conducting surveys and focus groups with both staff and members.
Invite a sample of your staff to a discussion about what their particular positions would need from the LMS. Be sure to include members of your learning and development staff to discuss your current strategy. What is working? What isn’t? What does an LMS need to do to emphasis your strategy’s strengths and shore up its weaknesses? Send a survey out to all staff members based on the discussion to get a full picture of what the association needs.
Additionally, you should use a random sample of your member list to invite members to a discussion on learning systems, touching on any experiences they may have had, their comfort level with such systems and what they would be looking to get from the association through a learning system. Use that information to develop and send a survey to all members to get an understanding of what would work for this group of stakeholders.
Ask around in your industry
Finally, ask professionals in your industry about their experience with LMSs, especially what functions they missed out on with their current or former systems. Oftentimes, peers are happy to discuss what they love about a product they use or what they were missing with former products. Let their experience inform yours, while acknowledging that their needs might not exactly mirror your own.
Analyzing what your organization needs from an LMS is a critical step to selecting a provider. Make sure you do this well before purchasing an LMS for your association.
UpAbility wants your feedback
Our team at UpAbility works hard everyday to make it easier for you to give your members more. That’s why we want to be sure we are delivering on the features you want and need. As we continue to grow and develop our platform, we seek user feedback and input to ensure we either already provide or are working on the best features that will provide the highest value to your organization.
What features are you prioritizing when selecting one LMS over another? As you determine your organization’s needs in terms of LMS features, let us know with an email or a comment here on the blog or on our Facebook page.