In a previous post my colleague Jason Clymer explored 3 key reasons to switch LMS. Jason lists the Product or the Vendor or the Cost as possible reasons. In this post I am listing the key components of the LMS Switching Process. Understanding these key components and putting them in practice while switching an LMS will not only ensure that the switch happens hassle-free but will also ensure that the switch will result in a positive outcome for a long time!
Why to Switch! This takes us back to the Jason’s post where the first key component clearly is to establish and describe in detail the reason(s) for the switch. This description will serve as both the problem description and also a baseline guidance for the rest of the process. It is imperative to know and put down in clear words the key reason or reasons behind the need to switch. Ultimately the reasons would be a mix of the product, the vendor and/or cost.
2.Putting A Team In Place
Though this is an obvious step of the process, the key thing to remember here is to have at least one stakeholder who understands the key problem very clearly. This will keep the team’s direction and the process aligned with the outlined problem description.
3.New LMS Requirements Specifications
Based on the current usage and, more importantly, subject to the problem description, a requirements document for the new LMS needs to be prepared. This document should highlight not only the typical features you need from the new LMS but should also list the needs as derived from the problem description. Remember to place a higher priority on the items that stem directly from the problem description. After all these are the key reasons for looking out for a new LMS!
4.Review IT Policies
From the last time the current LMS was implemented, there may have been significant changes in the IT policies. To ensure that the new LMS conforms to the same and can survive for a long run, it is important to review the policies and put them in the requirements specifications.
5.Scope And Plan For Data Migration
This is probably the most critical piece of the switching process. While implementing a new LMS is critical, the key challenge lies in being able to migrate all data from your current LMS to the new LMS with zero-loss. Given that the two systems would have completely different databases and different workflows, this component of the switching process is a real challenge and needs to planned and scoped in detail and with careful deliberation. Some areas within data migration to be taken care of are:
Content Migration - This includes all learning material and also all logical entities like learning curriculum or learning plan or learning path, certifications, etc. Before evaluating any LMS vendor it would be helpful to prepare and keep the content organization chart ready. This chart will describe various content elements, how they are related to each other and how they interact with the user. This needs to form a high-priority item for the LMS evaluation process.
Training Records Migration - These are the records of all training sessions – started, in progress, or completed by the users. In almost all cases, the organization wouldn’t want to lose or archive (without a view option) this data and hence there is a direct need to migrate these records to the new LMS. Again, it would be helpful to keep the organization of training records ready along with detailed description. This will help the new LMS vendor to analyze and prepare a smooth data migration plan. It will also make them aware of the changes they may need to do in their LMS or database to accommodate the records.
User Generated Content - Apart from the training records and content, the current LMS may have modules which facilitate users to generate and share content with each other – e.g. discussion forums, social learning modules, chatrooms, Expert Queries, Issues, Interaction with Line Managers, Instructors, etc. Migration of this information is also needed and would need to be included in the plan and scope of data migration.
User And Miscellaneous Information - Though the new LMS may also directly interact with another system for single sign-on or capturing user profile (HRMS/ERP/Custom system, etc.) but in some cases the user information may have been uploaded manually and may have been modified manually over the time. There would be some other modules which contain data that needs to be migrated to the new LMS – e.g. announcements made over the time, various settings done in the system – email signatures, certificate templates, customer information, branding schemes, templates, etc. which would need to be included in the plan and scope of data migration as well.
6.Use Case Scenario Demonstrations
While the above mentioned points will ensure that the search for the new LMS will be methodical and against a detailed set of requirements, an important piece in the process would be to stress on use case scenario demonstrations by the top 2 or 3 qualified LMS vendors. The main idea is to demonstrate the LMS with use cases which are relevant to the problem description and also the other elements of the requirements you have prepared. This will also eliminate the problems which arise if an LMS is bought only as per sales demos or mere RFP checklists. Earlier I had written about evaluating an LMS using use case scenarios.
7.Future Readiness Of The New LMS
With the fast changing landscapes of both the learning workflows and the technologies related to the LMS world, it is critical that you invest in an LMS that is more future-ready than others and aligns with your current needs. Indicatively, some of the things that you may look for could be – alignment with new and upcoming learning technologies e.g. mobile devices, inclusion of social and informal learning (current or roadmap), etc.
Most of the process hereafter is as good as selecting a new LMS and I am not going to go over that. The main thing to note and remember is to always go back to the original problem description as that defines the reason(s) why the LMS switch was, in first place, necessitated.
By focusing on these 7 components you can ensure that the new LMS you identify for your organization will not only eliminate the pain areas you are currently experiencing but also an LMS that will play a positive role for a long time. I hope this helps breakdown the process of switching an LMS in simple components. I welcome more thoughts and experiences.
For a thorough understanding of the switching process, book your seat for our webinar – Simplifying The LMS Switching Process: Switching For Good – to be held on 12th September, 11 AM EDT. Register now