Once you start researching learning management systems (LMSs) to upgrade from your current solution, you probably begin by making a list of the features and functionalities your team seeks. In an ideal world, you could purchase a solution with all of your dream capabilities and more. Unfortunately, one thing can get in the way of that— the price of the solution.
When it comes to choosing the right LMS, features and pricing need to be carefully balanced to ensure you choose the right solution and are able to make a profit.
At Web Courseworks, we’ve conducted extensive research into LMS pricing. Of course, we’ve researched the going rates when considering how to offer the most competitive price for our own CourseStage solutions. Even further, however, we’ve seen firsthand the value that associations can generate when using the right LMS for their programming.
Using that experience, we’ve created this guide to LMS price comparisons. We’ll cover the topic of LMS pricing in-depth through the following points:
- Overview of Learning Management Systems
- Understanding the Full Picture of LMS Pricing
- LMS Pricing Comparison by Vendor
While pricing should be a major factor in the LMS you choose, how that pricing is structured and the features of the solution should also play a role. This guide will break down all three.
Let’s get started.
Overview of Learning Management Systems
A learning management system (LMS) is a solution through which eLearning programming is delivered to your association’s members.
Through this system, you can share eLearning content, members can complete courses and earn certifications, and you can track the participation of both individual members and your membership as a whole. This trove of data empowers you to continue improving your learning business over time, discovering new and exciting ways to provide even more value for learners and add efficiency to your practices.
LMSs vary greatly both in pricing and functionality, so there’s certain to be a solution that suits your association’s needs on the market. However, it’s crucial to do your research before investing to ensure that you’ve chosen a solution that both meets your needs feature-wise and isn’t so expensive that your learning business can’t turn a profit.
What is included in the price of an LMS?
When you first begin researching LMSs, you might encounter a bit of “sticker shock.” While some solutions are more affordable, others come with a price tag best suited for larger associations.
However, it’s important to understand that this price tag corresponds directly to the functionality and support your team receives. For the most robust LMSs, you could be accessing a wealth of features such as:
- An intuitive interface
- Integrations with key association software
- Rich reports and data about activities within the LMS
- Course and assessment authoring
- Adaptive learning experiences based on past learner activities
- Advanced credit management for complex certifications
- Performance improvement
- Accreditation reporting
- Multi-site enterprise with segmented reporting
- Online and place-based, live training
- Social learning and community features
Another factor to consider is the level of support that the provider offers. For example, Web Courseworks provides white-glove service and additional add-on consulting in which your association can invest. This support may not be offered alongside the most inexpensive solutions.
Understanding the Full Picture of LMS Pricing
4 LMS Pricing Models
Some associations are apprehensive about investing in a new, robust learning management system simply because too few members participate in eLearning to make the investment worthwhile. The pay-per-learner pricing model addresses this by having associations pay a fee corresponding to the number of members that are added to the LMS.
One benefit of this model is that the price-per-user is often tiered. So, for larger organizations that have many members participating in eLearning, the price-per-member is often discounted. However, on the other hand, just because a member is added to the LMS, that doesn’t mean that they’re using it actively. So, your association could end up paying for members who aren’t receiving value from that cost.
With the pay-per-active-user model, your association pays a fee corresponding to the number of members who not only access your LMS, but also are actually taking courses within it.
The main benefit of this model is that it solves the challenge from the last solution, and associations will have no waste when it comes to how much they’re paying for an LMS. However, it can be harder to budget for this model as you’ll need to predict how many users use the system monthly or even quarterly– and, a major, unexpected uptick in interest can lead to an expensive month for your organization.
License Fee or Subscription
A license fee or subscription model describes situations in which your association purchases a periodic license or subscription for a set fee. Often, a license is a one-time purchase (for example, at the start of the calendar year) that grants you access to the software. Once the license is close to expiring, you can renew it. On the other hand, a subscription often involves more frequent (monthly, quarterly, bi-annually) payments for ongoing access to the platform.
The greatest benefit of this model is that pricing doesn’t fluctuate based on usage, so you can easily anticipate and budget for LMS access. Rather than being based on usage, the price for this model is based on the features of the platform– so, a feature-rich platform could come with a higher price tag. This leads directly to our challenge, as associations without an active eLearning program may not see the benefits in paying a larger lump sum for the software.
Custom solutions refer to home-brewed LMSs that are built specifically for the organization using them. This is most often used by associations or companies that are new to their learning business journey, and it’s almost always the most cost-effective route.
The benefits of this are clear: not only is it a cheaper solution, but the LMS can also be updated and customized as your organization desires. However, the cons are hand-in-hand with the pros. Custom platforms are often more basic in functionality and won’t include many of the in-depth features that your association seeks. Additionally, these systems aren’t scalable and would likely require significant updates as the organization grows. This can mean higher support costs.
Additional Costs to Budget For
When you’re considering the pricing of eLearning courses, remember that the actual cost of accessing the software is only the beginning. You’ll also need to budget for:
- Setup fees and implementation costs. This includes migrating your data and existing courses to the new solution as well as integrating it with your existing tools. This process can be greatly simplified if you choose an integrated solution and a solution provider that has extensive experience with third-party integrations and working with other technology partners.
- Software training. First, this includes training to ensure your team understands how to navigate the solution effectively. Then, you may want to invest in training resources to help get members up to speed and improve their experience with the platform.
- Ongoing support. This could be included as a service from the LMS provider. Or, you may choose to partner with an expert eLearning consultant. This partner can help with LMS strategy, content creation, and the overall direction of your learning business.
- Content creation costs. This includes working with subject matter experts (SMEs), any eLearning authoring tools you invest in, and the actual task of authoring content. You’ll want to offset this cost to some extent with how you price your eLearning courses.
The LMS you choose and the complexity of your learning business can greatly impact the price tag for these additional costs. For example, if your learning business is already well-established, your migration and implementation process may be more complex and extended. Or, if you have fairly straightforward content needs, your content creation costs will be lower.
One cost that you won’t want to cut is the fee associated with working with an eLearning consultant. Not only will this partner be able to help you find the right LMS for your needs and budget, but they’ll be able to help you navigate growing your learning business using it.
To learn more about the many ways an eLearning consultant can help, check out Web Courseworks’ eLearning consulting services.
LMS Pricing Comparison by Vendor
Now that we’ve discussed the various LMS pricing models and the additional costs that you should budget for, let’s examine this information in action. When it comes to pricing for robust LMSs, the following solutions provide a strong sample of the current market:
CourseStage LMS by Web Courseworks
CourseStage LMS by WebCourseworks is an enterprise-level association LMS with a robust set of features, including:
- Built-in course and assessment authoring
- Place-based, live training and virtual events
- Social learning
- Adaptive learning
- Extensive and automated reporting
- Integrations with key software
But, what truly makes CourseStage LMS stand out is the Web Courseworks team itself, which provides white-glove service and additional consulting offerings to ensure your association will make the most of the solution.
When investing in a robust LMS like this one, you often need to contact the provider directly to receive a custom quote for your organization. They’ll make sure you get the best price for your exact needs. For Web Courseworks, you can request a demo and pricing information here.
TopClass LMS by WBT
TopClass LMS is a system currently used by 5 million+ users, across 23 countries and 20 languages. Created to be both comprehensive and flexible, the solution empowers associations to manage certifications, deliver (though not author) numerous types of content, and manage full virtual conferences.
While WBT doesn’t provide pricing publicly, it’s most likely to be in the budget for large and enterprise-sized trade and professional associations. You can contact their team to request a demo or submit an RFP to learn more about their pricing.
YM Learning by Community Brands
YourMembership Learning (YM Learning) is an LMS created to deliver both on-demand and live learning content to association and nonprofit professionals. This LMS is equipped with features to increase learner engagement, including the ability to share various types of content, provide certifications and credentials, and provide an optimized mobile experience.
YM Learning doesn’t publish pricing information publicly. However, it is best suited for mid-sized to large professional associations and nonprofits. To learn more, contact the Community Brands team.
Elevate by CommPartners
Elevate LMS was created to provide a central hub to house all of an organization’s learning efforts, promoting both engagement and collaboration. It functions as an LMS, virtual event platform, and community platform all in one— so both eLearning and networking can occur within one system.
Similar to the previous providers, Elevate does not publish pricing information publicly. However, it’s advertised to be well-suited for both large nonprofit and association clients. To discover if it’s the right fit for your organization, contact the CommPartners team to learn more.
EthosCE is a continuing medical education LMS. It was created to engage learners, measure CE outcomes, and make CME administration as easy and straightforward as possible.
EthosCE doesn’t publish pricing information publicly, beyond noting that there are a few different options— a monthly subscription fee or a larger payment (for more feature-rich services). However, they do share the names of a few clients on their website— including UNC-Chapel Hill, the Endocrine Society, and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. This tells us that the LMS is best suited for large to mid-sized healthcare and nonprofit organizations.
Oasis LMS is a continuing medical education LMS that was created to be both straightforward to use and feature-robust. It’s not created to serve as the “umbrella” that houses all of an organization’s learning efforts, but rather to connect with other solutions (or even other Oasis LMS instances) to be one factor in an organization’s learning tech stack.
Oasis LMS includes both per-user pricing and general subscription pricing, both options billed on a monthly basis. Per-user pricing is available for the platform’s Starter package and comes out to $3/user/month. Beyond that, pricing is handled in tiers– for example, the Standard package is $800/month for up to 1,000 users.
Abara LMS was created predominantly for businesses seeking to train employees, channel partners, and customers. It has eLearning, instructor-led training, and virtual instructor-led training functionality.
Abara LMS’s pricing begins with a 30-day free trial. From there, the LMS is available in a subscription-based, pay-per-active-user model as follows:
- 25 Users: Free
- 50 Users: $420 monthly or $4,200 annually
- 100 Users: $600 monthly or $6,000 annually
- 250 Users: $900 monthly or $9,000 annually
- 500 Users: $1500 monthly or $15,000 annually
- 1,000 Users: $2,000 monthly or $20,000 annually
Organizations with 1,000+ active users should contact Abara LMS for more information.
Accord LMS was created for employee, partner, and customer training, specifically focused on simplifying the process of eLearning administration. It was created to be useful for both small businesses and enterprise organizations alike, and is priced accordingly.
Accord LMS handles pricing on a per-active-user basis, billing as follows:
- $2.00 per user for organizations with 200 active users
- $1.25 per user for organizations with 500 active users
- $0.90 per user for organizations with 1,000 active users
This is billed on an annual basis.
Core Achieve focuses on eLearning and instructor-led training, aiming to create a better online classroom experience for corporate learners. Similar to the previous systems, it is priced on a subscription-based, per-active-user model.
Here is how Core Achieve’s pricing is advertised:
- $299 up to 100 active users
- $810 up to 300 active users
- $1,220 up to 500 active users
This is billed on a monthly basis, so an organization with 50 active users would pay $299 each month.
Bridge LMS is a solution created for employee training, specifically focusing on effective onboarding. The solution is a combined learning management and performance management solution, so it includes additional features such as one-on-one meetings and employee goal tracking.
Bridge LMS offers a combination pricing style that incorporates both per-user and subscription elements as follows:
- For the “Learning” plan, the pricing is $3 per user, per month.
- For the “Learning and Performance” plan, the pricing is $9 per user, per month.
- For the “Learning and Performance and Engagement” plan, the pricing is $12 per user, per month.
As the tiers increase in price, more features are available for the organization. Further, note that this is done on a per-user, rather than per-active-user, basis.
eFront was created to function as an LMS for enterprise-sized organizations, from businesses to universities. It offers course management, extensive customization, and eCommerce features.
eFront is billed on a subscription basis, with tiers determined by the number of users within the organization as follows:
- Business (up to 1,000 registered users): $1,000 per month
- Enterprise (up to 2,500 registered users): $1,500 per month
- Large Enterprise (up to 5,000 registered users): $2,500 per month
This is billed on an annual basis.
GnosisConnect is an LMS created for businesses and focuses on four key pillars of eLearning administration: Learn, Teach, Coach, and Measure. It’s available in both a general business option and an enterprise option, the latter being custom-configured for the organization.
Pricing for GnosisConnect is available in two different manners:
- Fixed Pricing: This starts at $299 per month for organizations with 100 users or less. It increases depending on the number of users.
- Variable Pricing: This includes a baseline fee of $4,400 per year. If an organization has more than 100 active users, they’ll pay an additional $1 per month for each additional member.
This can be billed on a monthly or annual basis depending on the organization’s preference.
iSpring Learn was created to address all training scenarios that an organization may encounter, including onboarding, product training, sales training, channel training, compliance training, and certification. It’s a robust solution for business and corporate learning.
iSpring handles pricing on a per-user basis, starting at:
- $3.66 per user for up to 100 users
- $3.00 per user for up to 300 users
- $2.82 per user for up to 500 users
This is another example of pay-per-user, rather than pay-per-active-user, pricing.
TalentLMS was created for growing organizations and serves the manufacturing, healthcare, software, education, telecommunications, and retail industries. It’s a subscription-based solution, with tiers based on the number of users who will use the solution.
The pricing tiers are determined as follows:
- Free: Up to 5 users
- Starter ($59 per month): Up to 40 users
- Basic ($129 per month): Up to 100 users
- Plus ($249 per month): Up to 500 users
- Premium (429 per month): Up to 1,000 users
These are the prices for organizations that pay on an annual basis, and they increase for those that prefer to pay monthly.
The Bottom Line: Choosing the Right LMS for Your Association
To wrap up, choosing a learning management system shouldn’t be based solely on the price alone (though this should certainly factor into the decision).
Instead, take a hard look at your association’s LMS needs. What features do you seek? Which of those features are must-have, versus like-to-have? Find a solution that has all of your must-haves and at least a few of your like-to-haves, and you’ll be off to a great start.
Your new LMS should be a holistic solution for your learning business’s current challenges. This may mean investing in a more expensive solution up-front to prevent a plethora of challenges down the road. The goal is to prevent shopping for and switching to a new LMS again, just a few years down the line.
If you’re seeking a solution that meets your association’s needs now and well into the future— and, a team of experienced professionals who can help bring your association’s learning business to greater heights— reach out to Web Courseworks today to learn more about CourseStage and our eLearning consulting services.
In the meantime, explore the following resources for more tips to improve your association’s learning business:
- eLearning Pricing Models: 5 Ways to Price Your Courses. How you price your courses is just as crucial as which LMS you choose. Explore 5 popular models for making a profit from your eLearning courses in this guide.
- 10 Types of eLearning Assessments for Your Courses. Are you making the most of eLearning assessments? Consider these 10 engaging assessment strategies for your next course.
- What’s A Learning Experience Platform? The Essential Guide. Should you invest in an LMS or an LXP? Explore the key differences in this guide.