Monthly Archives: February 2012

Implementing an LMS? Here’s My Top Ten things to consider!

I am often asked “what are the most important things you have learned about implementing an LMS” – so cue the music if you can’t access YouTube through your firewall, you might need to imagine listening to “At The Sign of The Swinging Cymbals”! (for non UK readers, this was a famous radio theme for a top ten show!)

  1. Involve IT from day 1– I cannot emphasise this one enough! And this is important even if you have gone for a hosted or SaaS solution too. Your users will have to negotiate a number of potential IT “traps” which can spoil the user experience from day 1 including:- Desktop – how is their PC setup, what browser versions, Java, Flash, Adobe Acrobat, sound cards etc
    – Firewalls and proxy servers – they need to get out of the infrastructure to wherever you LMS is hosted
    – Security standards – you will need to consider the standards for passwords, access controls, data security and much more. And don’t forget to consider the Data Protection issues that may arise from your decision on where the LMS is hosted!
    – Penetration and performance testing – trust me, your IT team will have a view on this! (and rightly so!)
  2. Understand the business requirement – and meet it! There’s nothing worse than deploying a big-ticket system and finding that it doesn’t actually do what your business needs! Requirements gathering up front is one of the most important tasks and must go beyond what the L&D or Compliance teams want to do. All successful implementations have a clear link to meeting the needs of the business. Seems rather obvious I know but trying to mandate a central decision for an LMS into a business that isn’t bought into the idea is also a recipe for failure!
  3. Make sure you have budget to train your own implementation team – they need to know how to configure the LMS, especially the UI. One of the most important things you can do is invest in training – something that is not always done. Understanding how you can change the User Interface yourself will pay dividends later on and also, save you a considerable amount of money! Of course, you also need to have enough people who know the system inside out and ensure that any skills you gain around the tools are transferred. You could use one of the wiki tools in your LMS to capture best practice for example.
  4. Run a proof of concept with your short listed vendors – time for them to put their money where their mouth is! This can be a serious way to discover for yourself if the tool will actually deliver what the RFP response said it would! It is also a good way to test out some of those key business needs whilst also testing compatibility with your network infrastructure.
  5. Reference visits – and seek out your own from the vendor client list. Remember, they will give you their best clients! Most vendors will have customer lists on their websites – but you can also seek out customers through your PLN’s (Personal Learning Networks) – a quick tweet may get you a reference site your vendor would prefer you didn’t meet! I once sat next to the Sponsor of a reference project at dinner. He shared with me the fact that they were considering a change of vendor due to some of the issues they were facing. Priceless!
  6. Get an active sponsor – an inactive sponsor such as CEO may seem a good idea but just wait until he leaves! (I speak from experience here!). Hearing a CEO say “It’s a no brainer” is great for the project until circumstances change.
  7. Find your Champions – people out in the business who will help you spread the message are very important and will help to establish the business relationships you will need for success.
  8. Employ an expert – if this is your first LMS, go and find someone who has both the T-Shirt and is the sequel of the Video to save some pain!
  9. Win the hearts and minds of the Training world – especially classroom trainers who may see an LMS and eLearning as a threat. (It’s not, it’s probably more career enhancing but they don’t all know that!). Get them involved by ensuring they are trained on how to use the trainer functions on the LMS. Use this as an opportunity to upskill them in how to manage on-line training activities such as asynchronous chats and discussion forums.
  10. Governance – if you are deploying an LMS cross function, country or organisation, you will need to have some kind of governance board to ensure consistency in approach for global initiatives. Trying to deploy a centrally mandated project requires buy-in from across your organisation.
  11. Involve IT from Day 1 – did I mention that one? 😉

And remember, when implementing an LMS, if all you do is automate the chaos you already have, all you will get is very fast chaos!

Learning Management – Systems have a part to play

Learning Management – Systems have a part to play – from Learning Technologies Conference 2012


I had the pleasure last week of speaking in a panel discussion with Charles Jennings & Barry Sampson on the LMS at the Learning Technologies Conference in London.


My presentation video is now available here:


The first thing that will surprise some is that fundamentally, we all agreed! You cannot “manage” learning using a system! What an LMS does incredibly well though is to manage the processes around learning – and this for me is vital in any business that has a regulatory or other compliance requirement. What confuses the issue here is the terminology used to describe the systems we use – if it’s not “managing” learning, then should we really still be calling it an LMS? The term LMS conjures up a very specific image for many – and that image is sadly often based on what these systems were like 10 years ago! I have to say that for some people, the LMS evolved whilst they weren’t looking!

Like the cell phone, they still do all the things they did 10 years ago but now do so much more including:

  • Performance Management
  • Talent & Succession Management
  • Collaborative Learning
  • Delivery of social media
  • Blended Learning

Now I know there are those who will tell you that you don’t need these tools in your LMS and that you should be using those openly available – such as Twitter & Yammer. And of course, I use both of those and more! However, it’s not always as simple as just setting up a free Yammer account especially if you are regulated! At least one regulator would not be happy that you cannot control user access to the free Yammer environment for example and there are other requirements relating to security testing for any data held outside the organisation.

Perhaps the real meaning of the term LMS is Litigation Mitigation System!

To support my session at Learning Technologies, I surveyed a number of my peers in the world of Financial Services – whilst it was a relatively small sample, their opinion is nevertheless important:



How valuable is your LMS in ensuring you can provide supporting data about the competency of your people to your regulator?


How Vluable is your LMS?


How would you collate the information you need if you didn’t have an LMS?

  • by spread sheet and rubber bands!
  • Spreadsheets or forms on Sharepoint!
  • Manually by a myriad of Excel docs no doubt!
  • Excel Spreadsheets or bespoke access database
  • By hand…
  • Manually on Excel spreadsheets


If you didn’t work in a regulated industry, do you still think that you would deploy an LMS?

  • 100% Yes

In your opinion, will Social Learning tools ever make your LMS redundant?

  • 100% No

So, next time someone tells you the LMS is dead, consider the 2011-12 Towards Maturity Learning Technology benchmark which tell us that:

  • 71% have Learning Management Systems
  • 78% have electronic based content
  • 68% have online assessment
  • 77% use surveys and questionnaires

The last LMS I deployed had all of these of course!

And the final statistic: 69% want to roll out new IT systems – I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a lot of “LMS” Vendors are getting a slice of that too!