About almost an entire year ago (just five days short to be precise) I put up a post on Learning Management: What does a Training Company need an LMS for?. A year on and I was trying to review if things have changed significantly in for what a training company (or even an SMB) would need from an LMS in today’s scenario.
The key points I had mentioned earlier were
- Hosting and Support
- Branding of the System
- Standards Compliance
- Ready to go system without frills
- Scale-up capabilities (widgets)
- Multi-portal structure
In terms of the functionality, I had mentioned the key ones as:
- Course Management
- License Management
- User Management
- Systems Integration
- Online Assessments
- Automatic Certifications
- Learner Support tools
- Collaboration Tools
- Ask an Expert
- Automated Email Notifications
Surprisingly, I could not find many new things that have come up, which are needed from an LMS by a training company. This is definitely surprising and thought-provoking as training companies are eventually serving customers who are looking to eLearning for some of their training needs. In the last one year much has happened in the learning domain but the requirements from an LMS by a training company haven’t changed much.
It could be because training companies continue to focus on the limited area of skills they provide training on and not much has changed last year in the way that is done.
However for an SMB I believe there are some definite changes. While I did not summarize a similar post for SMBs a year back, I can list a few important ones which are more relevant (and needed) now than were earlier:
Social Learning / Informal Learning components. Though the awareness was increasing rapidly at that time LMS solutions were not completely ready with this as an offering. However a good number of LMS systems (the post has a link to CLO magazine article listing five such LMS systems) available now incorporate social and informal learning in the base LMS feature set in some form or the other, SMBs are now able to use (and now demand) this important component.
Looking at the Top 10 LMS/LCMS Trends and Forecasts – two points which I found relevant to this post (in terms of what an SMB or a training company needs from an LMS) were point no. 4, and point no. 5.
- Point no. 4 – Easier UI, front end, what the end user sees: Well, this is a moving target and will always remain relevant. With Web 1.0 leading in to Web 2.0 and at the edge of leading in to Web 3.0 LMS systems need to find continually innovative and intuitive user interfaces to keep up with how the end user really wants to see things on an LMS.
- Point no. 5 – Wizards, Graphs and Administration side: I think, in a way, its linked to the point no. 4. LMS systems should recognize Administrators as power users too (similar to a learner) and the system should have an easy to use UI along with strong capabilities on MIS reporting.
While referring to the same post, although not as a new feature required by SMBs and Training Companies, Point no. 6 is extremely relevant. In overall terms, SMBs and Training Companies are looking for an LMS that has been designed with them in mind and not a system that has been designed as an LMS and then can be modified to meet their needs. In some case the option to ‘change’ may not be feasible or available (as Craig mentions – ‘big dogs’) and in some others it may not be viable (commercially).
Today, SMBs and Training Companies look for an LMS that deliver best value specifically for SMBs and Training Companies. This is a factor of the features set mentioned along with a level of flexibility available at the system level, company level and more importantly in the pricing of the LMS.