Published on

July 25, 2023

Selecting an LMS? The complete guide for beginners

Stephanie Neusser

Stephanie Neusser

Marketing Lead


Learning Hub

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LMS Guide for beginners - selecting the right LMS

What is an LMS?

Definition LMS: LMS stands for Learning Management System for short. An LMS is a software application used to manage, organize and deliver learning content and courses. It serves as a central platform for organizing, managing and delivering training and educational activities.

An LMS enables efficient management and delivery of digital learning, eliminating the need for cluttered management using numerous Excel files. With a modern LMS, companies have an overview of learning success in their company at all times, as it offers extensive options for tracking and analyzing all learning activities. An LMS thus provides the basis for further development in companies and promotes the flexibility of learning.

LMS vs. LXP - What is the difference?

The market of learning technology solutions is constantly growing. In addition to classic LMS, Learning Experience Platforms (LXP) are also frequently offered nowadays. Although LMS and LXP are often equated or confused in their functions, both represent different platforms.

  • LMS The LMS is used as an administrative platform that captures, delivers, and tracks learning and training content. Traditionally, it is used by the L&D department as an organizational tool to manage the learning and development processes in the company and provides functions for creating and managing learning content and learning objectives as well as monitoring the learning progress in the company. In addition, the LMS offers options for uploading materials, communicating with learners, and managing face-to-face, online seminars or mandatory training courses.

Thus, an LMS is classically focused on administrators or L&D managers, while the focus of an LXP is on learners and the learning experience.

  • LXP A Learning Experience Platform (LXP) is learner-centric software that creates personalized learning experiences and helps users discover new learning opportunities. It combines learning content from different sources, (often) uses recommendation systems, and delivers it through different digital touchpoints such as desktop or mobile apps. In addition, they usually include gamification elements such as leaderboards, points or badges to increase learner motivation.

Read more about the differences between LMS & LXP.

Traditionally, LMS systems were mainly designed for administrators and managers, while LXP systems were more focused on the needs of learners. However, this separation created some challenges for administrators as well as learners. In contrast to the classic LMS, which aims at purely managing learning content, modern LMSs today also often integrate elements of an LXP to enhance the learning experience and increase engagement. They offer a comprehensive solution by combining LMS and LXP functions on one platform.

Today, modern LMS systems combine the classic LMS with LXP to meet the needs of both administrators and learners. This allows administrators, managers, and learners to benefit equally. Organizations thus have the opportunity to offer a unified environment for online learning and ensure a seamless learning experience.

Benefits of a modern LMS

A modern LMS provides organizations with a variety of benefits that are of great value to both learners and organizations. By providing an engaging learning experience through the LMS, learning activity in the organization can be increased and learning in the organization can gain traction. Administrator:s benefit from reduced effort in managing learning activity and the use of AI in creating learning content.

Other benefits of a modern LMS:

  • Effective management of learning content and courses:‍A modern LMS enables efficient management of learning content and courses. It offers functions such as seminar management, the organization of mandatory training courses, and the central storage of course materials. This makes it easier to create, update, and provide content to learners.
  • Tracking learner progress and performance: An LMS provides the ability to track learner progress and performance. It captures data such as completed lessons, test scores, as well as learning times. This information enables organizations to monitor learner progress, identify employee interests, provide individualized feedback, and offer additional support as needed.
  • Flexible learning through online access to courses: A key advantage of a modern LMS is online access to courses. Learners can access learning content from any location and at any time. This enables flexible learning, independent of spatial and time constraints. Learners can determine their own learning rhythm and adapt their progress to their individual needs.
  • Scalability: An LMS can be easily adapted to meet the needs of organizations of different sizes. Whether training a small team or a large workforce, an LMS provides the flexibility needed to meet the learning needs of the entire organization.
  • Personalized learning experience and individualized learning: One-size-fits-all solutions are long a thing of the past. A modern LMS can support learners by using, for example, AI and data-driven approaches based on their individual needs and learning styles. By providing personalized recommendations for courses and personalized learning paths that automatically adapt to your learners' prior knowledge, you can make learning more effective and engaging in your organization.

However, the specific features and benefits of an LMS depend heavily on the platform you choose. When choosing an LMS, it is therefore advisable to consider the specific requirements of your organization and compare different options.

How to find the right LMS for your organization's needs

Choosing the right LMS is an essential step to best meet the learning needs of your organization. A suitable LMS that is flexible to your needs, even over time, offers great opportunities to optimize the learning experience and administration in your organization.

Here are some steps to consider when selecting an LMS:

1. Analyze and understand requirements for an LMS

Start by analyzing the specific needs of your organization.

Include objective facts such as the size of the organization and the number of users. Continue by asking yourself questions about the type of content provided and desired features and functionality. What type of learning content do you want to provide? Do you need features such as mandatory training, seminar management, personalized learning paths, etc.? What specific tools and functionality are required for your learning objectives? Do you want to integrate existing tools in the organization with the LMS? In order to answer these questions, include learners and other stakeholders in the company. Finally, define clear requirements to make an informed decision.

2. Consider important functionalities and features of the LMS

Compare different LMS options in terms of the functionalities and features offered. Verify that the LMS offers the desired features such as course management, learner tracking, reporting, and collaboration. Make sure the LMS meets your needs and offers options for expansion and customization. Testing on the functionality and usability of the LMS should also happen here to ensure that all the features of the LMS are working properly and usability is assured.

We have summarized for you the most important functionalities and features that we believe every modern LMS should include:

  • Scalability & Flexible Adaptability to Your Business An LMS should be adaptable to the specific needs and requirements of the business and also support its growth, both in terms of number of users and learning content. It should offer the possibility to adapt the appearance, the functions and the content to the corporate culture and strategy.
  • AI-based functions AI-based functions play a crucial role in a modern LMS, especially in this day and age. By using artificial intelligence, the LMS can, for example, provide intelligent recommendations for learning content based on the individual needs and learning behavior of employees. Another possible feature, for example, is the creation of personalized learning paths. These AI-driven features improve the efficiency of the learning process, promote individual development, and contribute to a personalized learning experience.
  • Personalization options for customized use Each employee has different learning preferences and needs. An LMS should offer personalizable features to meet individual needs. This includes, for example, the ability to customize learning content, personalize learning paths, or set learning objectives. Personalization promotes employee motivation and engagement.
  • Support for multimedia content Support for different media formats such as text, images, videos, audio files or interactive elements is important to appeal to different learning types among your employees and provide a diverse learning experience. An LMS should provide the ability to upload, display, and effectively present multimedia content.
  • Effective analytics, reporting, and data collection capabilitiesAn LMS should provide the ability to collect data on employee learning behaviors. Through data collection, organizations can gain insights into employee learning preferences, strengths, and weaknesses. This information makes it possible to design personalized learning paths, meet individual needs, and continuously optimize learning programs.
  • Seamless integration with existing systemsAn LMS should be able to seamlessly integrate with the organization's existing IT infrastructure. It should provide interfaces and APIs to exchange data with other systems such as HR software, CRM or other learning platforms. Integration capability facilitates collaboration and data sharing between different systems.
  • Powerful cloud infrastructure A cloud-based LMS is accessible from anywhere, anytime via the internet, giving you flexibility and scalability. It enables easy management and delivery of learning content without the need for extensive local infrastructure. This also makes it easier to implement and maintain the system.
  • Security measures to protect your data Make sure the LMS provides adequate security measures such as data encryption, access controls, and regular backups. Also review the LMS provider's privacy policy to ensure your data is protected and complies with applicable regulations.
  • Customer Support and Future UpdatesReliable customer support is important to receive timely assistance with questions or technical issues. Find out about the customer support offered, whether there is a dedicated support hotline, email support, or a knowledge base. Additionally, it is advisable to obtain information about future updates and development of the LMS. Make sure the LMS vendor provides regular updates to keep the system's performance and security up to date.

Download our detailed LMS requirements checklist for free.

3. Consider the competence and experience of the LMS provider

By considering the competence and experience of the LMS provider, you ensure that you get a reliable, high-quality and supportive LMS. Criteria to consider here include the vendor's customer portfolio, awards, and also success stories from existing customers to assess the vendor's reputation. Careful evaluation of these aspects will help you select a trustworthy provider that can meet your specific needs.

Our Tip: Trust other companies' experiences. In addition to your thorough market research, it's a good idea to talk to other organizations and get references. This way, you'll be sure to include cases that aren't covered in demos or wouldn't stand out in your selection decision.

4. Request Trial Period or Live Demo

Before choosing an LMS, test the usability of the LMS. A user-friendly LMS is critical to ensure smooth use and adoption by learners. Look for an intuitive user interface, user-friendly navigation, and responsive design. Test demo versions or run pilots to evaluate the user experience and ensure the LMS is easy to use.

5. Check integration capability

If you decide to integrate your LMS with existing systems, you should verify in advance that the LMS can seamlessly connect with your tools. For example, this may include HRM systems, content partners, or single sign-on options, but integrations are not always necessary. If it is, a smooth integration enables efficient data and information exchange between different platforms and facilitates user account management. It can also improve your employees' user experience and learning experience.

6. Consider the time and effort required for implementation

To ensure a smooth implementation, it is worth estimating in advance the time and effort required to introduce the LMS in the company. Also take into account which stakeholders in the organization should be involved at what time and create a detailed project plan.

RFP for market and vendor analysis for LMS selection.

To select an LMS, it can be very helpful to use a Request for Proposal (RFP). An RFP allows you to take a structured and transparent approach to selecting an LMS and ensure you get a system that meets your needs.

With consistent questions and clear requirements, you can request responses from vendors and compare them directly. An RFP makes it easier for you to make time-saving, informed decisions by allowing you to easily compare the features, pricing, implementation details, and support of each offering. This ensures that you have your requirements clearly in mind in each case, allowing you to objectively compare different vendors and ultimately find the best one that meets your needs.

RFP template free of charge as download.

Implementing an LMS - Onboarding Guide

You have decided to implement an LMS - great! You are now facing an essential step that will have a significant impact on the success of the LMS in your organization: Implementing the LMS in your organization. This can be complex, so it's important to create a clear plan to proceed prepared. It's equally important to be aware of potential challenges so you can prepare for them and develop strategies to counter them.

Record concrete goals

Because an LMS often has many applications, remind yourself again of the clear goals you want to achieve by using the LMS in your organization. Do you want to improve employee development, streamline compliance training management, or simplify access to learning content? Defining your specific goals will help you structure the implementation process. Important: Take the time to conduct a thorough needs assessment and ensure that everyone's goals, requirements, and expectations are clearly defined.

Create a project plan and engage stakeholders

Develop a detailed schedule that covers all phases of the implementation, including preparation, training, and go-live date. Involve all stakeholders involved with project management in the LMS implementation in this process. This includes, for example, L&D managers, subsequent key users of the LMS such as administrators, and IT managers for any activations and integrations.

Important: Invest sufficient time in preparation to identify and address potential hurdles early on.

Determination of the learning offer

A learning strategy including a defined learning offering is critical to the success of the LMS. When creating a learning strategy, clearly define goals that the LMS is intended to achieve, for example:

  • I know which topics I want to play out to which group of employees via learning paths.
  • The learning offering meets the needs and goals of the company as well as those of the employees.
  • The learning offering is present in the company and easily accessible.

The integration of high-quality learning content in various formats such as text, images, videos, and interactive elements in your learning offering promotes learner motivation and improves the learning experience.

Integration of learning content and resources

The learning content defined in the learning strategy and course concept should now be structured into clearly arranged modules. This facilitates the structured integration of the content into the LMS, making it easier for learners to navigate. Existing training materials and resources from your company can be used here to speed up the implementation process. In addition, external resources such as e-learning courses, webinars or online libraries can also be integrated to expand the range of available learning content. Many LMSs provide external materials here in cooperation with e-learning content providers.Important: It takes time, resources, and expertise to develop content that meets learners' needs. A lack of engaging and relevant content can affect learner acceptance and engagement. Invest in developing high-quality learning content and look for an LMS solution that already includes learning content out-of-the-box for a quick, easy start.

Adapting the LMS to your specific requirements

To ensure a smooth onboarding process, the LMS should be customized to meet the specific requirements of your organization. On the admin side, the main focus here is on defining user roles and access rights to ensure security and effective use of the system. In addition, adjustments can often be made to the design to adapt the appearance of the LMS to the company. Also, ensure smooth integration with existing systems.

Important: Ensure early enough that the LMS can integrate with existing systems and work closely with your IT team to ensure a smooth integration. Perform extensive testing to ensure that data is transferred and synchronized correctly.

Administrator training

A lack of training and support for administrators and trainers can lead to difficulties in effectively managing the LMS and supporting learners. This can negatively impact the learning experience and use of the LMS. It is important for training to provide comprehensive documentation that includes instructions, tutorials, and best practices. Administrator:s will thus be empowered to realize the full potential of the LMS and best support the learning and development initiatives in their organization.Important: The right LMS provider will help you train your employees.

Final testing and review before launch

Before the LMS is released to all user:s, testing and review should be performed again. A pilot test with a small group of users provides an opportunity to gather feedback and identify potential issues early on, before the LMS is available to all users in the organization.

Create a learning culture

Lack of awareness about the benefits of the LMS and low learner engagement are often barriers to LMS use. Reasons for this may be learners' lack of knowledge about the learning experience, but also that the learning experience is not engaging. In addition, a non-existent learning culture within the organization can weaken learner motivation and engagement.

Prepare the workforce for the LMS rollout by providing detailed information about the new learning offering and explaining benefits. A sample email that you can send to your workforce to introduce the LMS can be found here:

Dear employees,.

Continuous development is of great importance to us as a company, but also to you personally.With our new learning platform edyoucated, you gain access to individual learning paths that are tailored precisely to your previous skills. Through a self-assessment on the platform, you have the opportunity to assess your skills and keep track of your skill levels. This allows you to continue your education in a targeted manner. The platform offers you the following benefits:.

  • Clear overview of expectations for your position.
  • Self- and external assessment of your own skills possible
  • Avoidance of superfluous repetition of learning content through adaptive learning.
  • Freedom to engage in self-directed learning

You can access the platform via the following link. You can get a detailed description of the first steps in the attached video/ from your manager. Once you have a profile, please independently assess your current skill levels and schedule an initial meeting with your manager. The results of the skill assessment will only be used for training purposes. Your results will only be visible to yourself and your manager. ".

We hereby explicitly encourage you to use your work time for personal development! With every new skill you learn, our company gains in capabilities.

If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch. Until then, have fun and good luck with your learning!

Consider employee needs and interests to create relevant learning content and an engaging learning experience. A motivating learning environment can be created by encouraging leaders to encourage their teams to use the LMS and lead by example themselves. Also offer incentives such as learning competitions or lectures in the company to promote the motivation of the learners.

Best practices for using an LMS

To get the most out of an LMS, there are a few best practices to keep in mind.

The right launch is key

A successful start is the key to the success of an LMS. It is helpful to structure the launch of the LMS like a marketing campaign for a new product. This helps to arouse the interest of employees and increase their motivation to participate. With the launch you should have 3 goals in mind:

  1. Everyone in the company is aware of the new LMSCommunicate the benefits of the LMS, such as the flexibility of learning and access to quality learning content, for example via a company-wide all-hands meeting where the LMS is presented , possibly followed by a small launch celebration. Use different communication channels like e-mails, internal newsletters, intranet or employee meetings to promote the new LMS and raise a company-wide awareness of learning. Short videos on how to use the LMS can also be sent here.
  2. The hurdle to using the LMS is as low as possibleSimplify the sign-up and access process to the LMS to increase willingness to participate. Make sure that all employees have the appropriate permissions and access rights. Provide clear instructions and supporting materials to help you get started. Make sure technical support is available to resolve any issues or questions you may have.
  3. The LMS is a topic of much conversation in the companyEncourage employees to talk about positive experiences with the LMS and to actively recommend it. Start discussion groups to establish the LMS as a topic of conversation in the company. Offer incentives such as rewards or recognition for employees who use the LMS and share their experiences (e.g. via learning competitions). Ensure that managers and supervisors support the LMS, act as role models and actively include the LMS in conversations with their employees.

Your company can only become a self-learning organization with the help of your LMS if the 3 goals are ensured.

Engaging and personalized learning content

An LMS should not only convey information, but also offer employees a great, tailor-made learning experience to create motivation to learn.

Make sure the learning content in the LMS is engaging and interactive. Use different media such as videos, interactive exercises, case studies and quizzes to make learning with the LMS interesting and effective. Take into account the different learning styles, needs, but also the previous learning experiences of your learners in order to offer a diverse and personalized learning experience. A modern LMS should be able to adapt learning paths based on previous knowledge in order to be able to play out learning content adapted to the level of knowledge. Learning content anchored in the LMS should therefore be able to cover different levels of knowledge and match the previous experiences of your learners.

Fostering learning communities and collaboration

An LMS should not function in isolation. By fostering learning communities and collaboration, the social aspect of learning can be increased. Use collaborative tools such as MS Teams, Slack, or other social platforms to facilitate knowledge sharing and collaboration among learners. Create chat groups or channels and encourage learners to ask questions, share ideas, and learn from each other. This not only enhances learning, but also creates a sense of community and motivation for the LMS. Be creative and use gamification elements of your LMS, such as learning points or leaderboards. By doing this, you can also implement social and environmental initiatives (CSR) in your company, among other things, similar to one of our customers who planted trees for every learning point they collected. Use the many possibilities of gamification in the LMS to bring about positive change.

Monitoring learner progress

A good LMS allows administrators and managers to monitor learner progress and performance. Use these features to provide feedback to your employees and offer support when necessary. Monitoring progress also helps evaluate the effectiveness of learning and make adjustments as necessary.

Integration with employee appraisals

Ensure that the LMS is integrated into existing structures and processes, such as employee reviews and development plans. Your LMS should be accessible and known to all managers so that they can refer to it during development discussions with their employees. Once managers have identified a development opportunity, the LMS should be able to provide an overview of what learning opportunities exist for that learning objective. It is particularly helpful here if skills are anchored in your modern LMS.

Continuous improvement and updating of your learning content

Learning needs and goals are dynamic and constantly changing. Therefore, it is important to continuously review, improve, and update learning content.

You should regularly ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which learning paths are most in demand and why?Engage with learners and get valuable feedback to continuously improve content.
  • Keep up to date with industry trends and developments and adapt learning content accordingly.
  • What content should we create ourselves and when does it make sense for us to buy in external content? Weigh up how much effort it would take to create learning content and whether the necessary resources and knowledge are available in your company. A good way to provide your learners with up-to-date content without spending a lot of time is to integrate external, up-to-date learning content. By selecting trusted content partners that are already integrated into modern LMSs, you can always rely on up-to-date content.

The diverse application possibilities of an LMS

The possible applications of an LMS are extremely diverse. A sensible way to get started with an LMS is to identify a specific need for action, which you can accomplish with the help of your LMS. When addressing the following challenges in companies, an LMS can very quickly help to achieve a positive impact.

Digital mandatory training

Compliance training and certifications are critical for companies in many industries and mandatory for employees. An LMS offers the opportunity to digitize these mandatory trainings, for example on legal regulations, data protection and occupational safety, and provide all employees with easy access to the learning content via the online platform. By making training available via the LMS, companies can save time and resources by managing training and related materials centrally and flexibly, regardless of whether they are held online, on-site or hybrid. Integrating mandatory training also provides additional flexibility for employees, as they can choose to attend online or physically. In addition, companies can track the progress and results of mandatory training and ensure that all employees are meeting the necessary requirements.

Digital Seminar Management

Organizing and managing seminars and training can be time-consuming and complex. An LMS can digitize the entire process of seminar management. You can use the LMS to announce seminars, register participants, provide course materials, and even monitor learning success. This makes it much easier to plan, organize and conduct training courses.

Continuous employee training

An LMS offers companies the opportunity to continuously train their employees. You can create interactive learning content and enable your employees to access this content at any time and from anywhere. Small "learning nuggets" also enable short learning units to be learned while working ("learning in the flow of work"). As a self-learning organization, you thus enable learning employees to constantly expand their knowledge and skills and stay up to date.

Onboarding new employees

Onboarding new employees is a critical process to ensure they integrate quickly and effectively into the organization. Here, an LMS can help improve the onboarding process by providing new employees with access to training materials and resources. Companies can easily deliver training on company values, policies, workflows, and other relevant topics through the LMS to ease the onboarding process for new employees. Digitizing the onboarding of new employees is particularly important now and in the future, especially for remote or hybrid ways of working. An LMS is a great solution here to provide digital onboarding learning paths.

Training employees in sales or customer service

For companies that have sales or customer service staff, training in sales and customer service skills is essential. An LMS allows you to create customized training programs. With access to interactive exercises and other training materials, employees can continuously improve their knowledge and sales and customer service skills.

Digitalize and prepare knowledge

By digitizing and preparing knowledge in an LMS, you can ensure that knowledge is not lost in the company and is easily accessible to everyone. Especially in the case of complex products or processes in your company, the knowledge transfer of specialist and expert knowledge can be significantly simplified in this way. Knowledge can be translated into structured learning paths that transport the collected and documented knowledge throughout the company. This increases the expertise of employees and helps boost efficiency within the company. You can also create training materials, manuals, best practices, video tutorials, and other learning content and integrate them into the LMS via learning paths. In addition, you can increase efficiency by storing knowledge centrally in the LMS. Employees can find information quickly without having to perform time-consuming searches. This helps increase productivity and prevent knowledge gaps in the organization.

Final Thoughts

Now you should feel ready to find an LMS that fits your business. We at edyoucated are happy to support you in finding the first use case for an LMS in your company and act as your partner from the first conversation to the roll out and beyond.

Feel free to contact us!

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edyoucated is funded by leading research institutions such as the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB), Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK).

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