Implementing a Learning Management System (LMS) is one of the most important decisions a company makes. It’s also one of the most complex.
The first step in implementing an LMS is deciding which platform to use. This guide will walk you through each step for choosing an LMS that fits your business needs. We’ll also go through a detailed checklist for the entire LMS implementation process.
Choose the Right LMS Platform
There are several different training platforms available for companies looking to implement an LMS. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. You need to consider what features are most important to your organization, as well as your budget.
Set Goals for Your Company’s eLearning
You should start by considering your goals. What do you want to accomplish? How much time do you have available? Who else needs to be involved? These questions help you determine what steps you need to take to achieve your goal.
Selecting the Best LMS Vendor for Your Business
Once you have determined your goals, you will need to select vendors who can help you reach them. This includes software providers, consultants, and other service providers.
The best LMS platforms offer flexible, robust training programs that are available anywhere, anytime from mobile devices. There are free LMS platforms, but they’re often clunky, inadequate, and not intuitive.
Create a Plan
Once you’ve decided on the platform, you need to develop a plan for implementation. This includes identifying team leaders, creating a timeline, and determining the roles and responsibilities of each team member.
Benefits of an LMS Implementation Project Plan
Like any project, a great plan will guide your implementation team from start to finish. A clear plan will provide a project timeline, goals, and outline responsibilities for the project team.
Set Goals for Your LMS Implementation
What is your company’s true purpose for implementing an LMS?
An LMS for employee training puts all the tools and learning content your team needs to grow at their fingertips. A new, digital LMS will empower your team members to access learning materials and training courses on the go with a convenient, user friendly employee training system.
The LMS implementation should keep those key user-focused fundamentals in perspective throughout each project phase. Ensuring that the LMS is functional and usable for the end-users, your staff, should be the primary goal. A strategic and successful implementation will help you achieve that goal.
Who should be involved in your LMS implementation team and own the plan?
Depending on the size of your organization and the amount of expected learning material, LMS implementation teams can vary in structure. Typically, your team should consist of the following:
- Learning & Development Managers and e-Learning specialists
- HR Managers
- IT and system administrators
Generally, a member of the L&D team is the owner of the implementation plan. Their function is to serve as a project manager for the LMS implementation, making sure milestones are met and that the team members have the support needed to complete their tasks.
LMS Implementation Plan, Strategy and Timeline
The LMS implementation plan will serve as your organization’s road map throughout each project phase.
Having a clear plan, with each goal and milestone outlined, helps the team stay on top of their deliverables. It also helps to put the entire project in perspective to allocate workload, hire additional staff if needed, and understand the timeline.
Where your implementation plan ‘lives’
Your LMS implementation plan should be a digital document that is stored and accessible on your company’s server or cloud based storage.
The plan owner controls editing access but every member of the team should be able to easily find, review the document, and request to make changes and/or comments.
Your implementation timeline
LMS implementation timelines vary from company to company. Is your learning content already developed? Are there any additional resources (software or human) that are needed? Is there a hard deadline influenced by management or other business pressure?
The plan and timeline will also be influenced by the available budget. Of course, all-in-one LMS programs are generally quicker to roll out.
How to track progress on your LMS project
With each stage of your LMS implementation, the deliverables should be tracked on a digital task tracker. Digitally tracking and assigning tasks keeps the team organized and offers a great overall view of the timeline and next steps.
What’s Included in your LMS Implementation Checklist
Getting your LMS implemented successfully is imperative to ensure your staff have a great first impression when they start using it. To give your organization the best chance at a seamless integration, you should have a robust LMS requirements checklist.
Identify Required Integrations
Most LMS software packages include the ability to integrate third-party software add-ons. Depending on your industry and scope of LMS material, some third-party apps will be more useful than others. The implementation team needs to speak with the LMS vendor and work out what integrations will add the most value.
Some common third-party LMS integrations include:
- Google Analytics
- Facebook pixel
- LinkedIn Learning
- eCommerce for LMS
- Video conferencing and messaging apps
Schedule Your Launch Date
Once the timeline of the LMS integration has been worked out, the launch date should be chosen. Having a firm launch date gives the implementation team a clear goal to work towards. Closer to the launch, this date should be communicated internally to the entire staff.
Set Your KPIs
Key performance indicators, or KPIs, are important data points that the LMS will gather from the users. Depending on your industry, course material, and organization size, your company will have a unique set of KPIs.
Define your KPIs (measuring learner performance)
The KPIs most useful for LMS will directly measure learner performance. These data points will demonstrate how effective the learning material is, as well as how well the staff engages with the material.
Common examples of KPIs and success metrics in an LMS:
- Learning module completion time
- Quantity of users
- Types of users and their roles within the organization
- Test and assignment grades
- In-course multiple choice and quiz interactions
Familiarize Yourself with the LMS
Deciding on your new LMS platform can be a back and forth process with sales meetings and demonstrations. By the time you make your decision, you should have a good idea of how your new LMS will function.
At the start of the implementation project, take the time to familiarize yourself with the range of features, add-ons, and user interface. Ask your LMS partner for videos, demos, guides, and any other information to learn more about the product.
Prioritize the First Steps
What do you need to get the LMS up and running? Most LMS platforms come with a wide range of must-have features as well as optional packages. At the start of the implementation, many of those extras aren’t necessary and can be added on when needed.
Prioritize the most important pieces that your organization requires and make sure those features work seamlessly. Once the staff gets comfortable, the additional functionality can be added at a later date.
Define User Roles (Student vs. Instructor vs. Administrator permissions)
Within the LMS, different users will have different permissions. The implementation team should define these roles and permissions of the different types of users.
System administrators will have permissions that may extend to changing the structure and code of the platform, to controlling permissions and access of the other users.
Instructors and the learning and development teams would be able to upload course material, review and edit scores and grades, and assign modules or assignments.
The default role would be student, as most employees in an organization use the LMS as learners. In this role, basic permissions are granted like viewing and completing learning modules, viewing grades, and exploring the course catalog.
If you’re transitioning from an old platform to your new Learning Management System, you’ll need to migrate existing data. Data migration allows your organization to bring previously completed LMS activities, user information, and certifications into the soon-to-be implemented LMS.
Migrating the data should be done in collaboration with the LMS vendor’s team. There are many important considerations such as compliance standards and compatibility matching. To avoid losing data, be sure to back-up all key data before migrating.
Now let’s talk about the real meat of an LMS platform: the learning content!
Every organization will have a unique set of eLearning modules, topics, certifications, and courses. There are a few options for assembling the training material:
- Purchase pre-made courses
- In-house course creation
- Work with a third-party to design specific course material
LMS integration should include high-quality, value-added learning material from the roll out. You want your users to have a great first impression of the platform. They should be able to dive into interesting and engaging material from the moment they start with the new system.
Create Points of Contact
Your organization’s LMS can be used for all departments, types of roles, and skills. Because of this, there will be many different people who will need to use the platform.
To offer staff streamlined support, you can create points of contact based on department, modules, or location. If ever there is a problem, your employees should know exactly where to go to ask for help or to flag potential issues.
Set Your IT Team Up for Success
For troubleshooting, your IT team will be the technical point of contact. Throughout the implementation program, IT departments should be closely involved at every stage.
It’s imperative that they know the LMS platform so they can make adjustments and fix problems. And the more they understand the platform, the easier it is to have technical discussions with the LMS vendor.
Set Up Customer Portals
Many companies offer B2B training to their customers. Within a comprehensive LMS platform, this can easily be accommodated through customer portals.
Customer portals allow you to set up separate training environments that can be catered exactly to your customer’s requirements. You can set up your customer’s account and give them admin permission for that specific portal. From there, your customers can invite the learners within their organization as needed.
Test Before You Launch
As part of the implementation team, you should try to know your part of the LMS inside and out. The L&D and HR representatives should be able to navigate through the system. That means being able to upload learning material, assign courses, and change user information.
From the IT and system admin side, they should know the back end structure as much as needed and be able to troubleshoot technical issues…because inevitably there are always a few bugs!
Follow LMS Best Practices As Outlined by Your Provider
Your LMS vendor has designed the platform to function according to their unique framework. They will have consulted in best practices to get the most out of their software.
The platform will function the best way within these bounds. If ever you feel limited in what you can do within the LMS, contact the vendor to work out the best path to accommodate your requirement.
Test Your LMS System
Testing as many aspects of your new LMS system will help you find and correct errors and bugs. Working in teams, sift through each of the forms, drop downs, page links, and navigation buttons. The more you test, the more likely you’ll be rolling out with an error-free platform.
Upload Learning Materials and Finalize Course Contents
Once you’ve generated and assembled your learning material and course content, it’s time to upload them to the LMS.
All high-quality modern LMS platforms will have an intuitive upload function. Some LMS will also connect directly with third-party course vendors making it that much quicker to finalize course content.
Once the material is uploaded, run through each of the modules. Check closely for bugs, typos, or any errors.
Customize Email Notifications
LMS platform users can be notified by email for reminders and important course updates.
There are a few reasons to use LMS email notifications. Email is a great way to let users know about new courses. It also can send reminders when due dates are approaching for mandatory training.
Finalize Courses and Platform
The last step before you can start the launch is the final review of the course content and platform.
Comb through the course material for omissions, broken links, typos, or any other problem. Click navigation buttons, watch videos, listen to the audio – make sure everything is working and uploaded correctly.
Pre-Launch Implementation Plan Steps
With the course content reviewed and the platform ready to launch, we’re just about ready to test it out on a portion of the staff!
Conduct a Soft Launch
A soft-launch refers to a launch for only a specific number of employees. Before rolling it out across the business, you can choose sub-sections of personnel to be the first users… the guinea pigs, if you will. This test group of users for the pilot launch should not be part of the implementation team.
With fresh eyes, these users will most likely find small issues and bugs that may have been overlooked. It’s important to get direct and detailed feedback from the test group, through both surveys and face-to-face meetings.
Onboard and Enroll Users
At the completion of the soft launch and final troubleshooting process, it’s time for the official organization-wide roll out!
Internal communications through email or social intranet should clearly explain that the LMS has officially launched. The communication should outline how users can access their learning profile and highlight the main benefits of the new platform.
From there, users can be onboarded and enrolled in courses according to their roles, departments, or skill development paths.
Post-Launch Implementation Steps
After the launch day, it’s now time to evaluate how your staff is using the new LMS.
Monitor System Usage
The LMS software will generate user data based on usage, time spent on each page/module, and even error reporting, if necessary.
During the first few weeks and months of the new LMS, it is essential that all system usage is very closely monitored.
Ask for Feedback
Collect as much feedback as possible from the users. Surveys upon module completion provide routine and systematic feedback. Select groups users can also be asked to have face-to-face feedback sessions.
Making your new LMS platform seamless and error-free is an iterative process that may take some time to get perfect. By keeping an open and transparent feedback loop with users, the implementation team, and IT, you will quickly have it running like a well-oiled machine.
Connect and Consult with Your Account Manager
Once the LMS is launched, be sure to circle back to your LMS vendor account manager. They’ll be excited to hear about the roll out and the employee experience so far. They’ll offer support and recommendations to ensure the best possible user experience.
Let’s Launch Your New LMS
Implementing an LMS takes a lot of teamwork, planning, and strong execution. By choosing the right LMS vendor, you’ll have an expert team helping your organization through every phase of the project.
Want to learn more? Get in touch with our implementation team for a strategy session.