The functional LMS requirements are the actual LMS features that learners and administrators will be using.
User and course management
First, you need to decide how to work with users and groups in the LMS. To do this, answer a few questions:
- How will you register employees — will users register themselves, or will an administrator register student?
- Who will be involved in managing the LMS? Do you need a system that allows you to assign different user roles and users?
- Are you planning to create individual training programs for different employees or organizations?
- How will you add new users — by email or by importing them from an Excel file, or both?
Next, you need to decide on the learning model which will be the best for your business requirements.
- Pure eLearning. Employees are trained only online. They take courses and tests and read recommended articles and books.
- Blended Learning. Only a part of the training is transferred to online learning. For example, you can ask employees to complete all the prerequisite courses through eLearning and then undergo hands-on training in person.
- Instructor-led training. This type of training allows learners and instructors to interact and discuss the training material, either individually or in a group setting. Instructors may deliver training in a lecture or classroom format, or even virtually, using video conferencing tools. But, moving human can be expensive!
To select an LMS, you need to answer the following questions.
- Are you planning to host webinars? If yes, the list of LMS features should include webinar software or integration with video conferencing services.
- Are you going to implement instructor-led training? If yes, then you need an LMS that allows you to manage classroom schedules and locations, monitor performance and attendance, and assign learners and instructors to offline sessions.
Support and creation of learning content
At this stage, you need to decide what kind of training materials you will offer to employees and whether you will create courses internally, or not. Answer the following questions:
- What content and technologies are you going to use? Will it be PDFs, docs, MP3s, MP4s, SCORM, AICC, Tin Can? Make sure the LMS supports all the file and eLearning formats, and data collection capabilities you need.
- Do you need a course editor?
Analytics and reports
Training is about results. So, decide how you’re going to measure them. The benefit of an LMS is that it frees you from having to work with Excel spreadsheets and process performance data manually.
Answer a few questions.
- Do you need detailed report on materials, groups, and users, or is it enough for you to know about learners’ progress in general? Keep in mind, these analytics can also be used to drive improvement both your content on the learning system itself.
- Do you want to customize reports?
If you are going to train sales representatives or other employees who are always on the move, you’re learning content should look great on all mobile devices. At the very least, you need an LMS that supports fully responsive courses that adapt to the screen size of any device (… a must has). The ideal solution is a platform with a mobile app that allows learners to take courses offline. The latter will be especially helpful to those who travel a lot and need access to training materials from airplanes or other places with ‘low-to-no’ internet connection.
Cloud-based or hosted solution
A hosted LMS is installed on a company’s server. All data is stored in-house. However, deploying a hosted LMS is a complex technical task that involves checking the compatibility of the system with the company’s existing network and software architecture. Often systems have to be integrated too. As a result, the setup phase can take 3-6 months (or more).
A cloud-based platform is hosted on the web. It doesn’t require deployment, so you can start working with it immediately.
Depending on your company’s policy, identify the security requirements — for example, where data is stored, how users should receive logins and passwords and authenticate into the system, and who can have access to what data.
Integration with other systems
Consider whether you need integration with HR software, BI systems, CRMs or any other services. For example, for many healthcare organizations that train medical professionals it’s important that a learning platform integrates with ACCME web services.