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Upgrading to a Robust LMS: The challenges, the method, the reward

Persuading your mom to buy that brand new bike you always wanted was tricky, but little did you know that one day you’d be convincing an association’s board members to upgrade to a robust LMS (learning management system). You’ve had your first or second LMS for quite some time now, and with increased learner expectations you know there’s bound to be complications. Without change that is.

Change is scary, and this is the number one reason associations don’t put in the time and effort needed to upgrade to a more robust LMS. Unfortunately, when the time comes that you’re bumping up against the limits of your current LMS, upgrading to a robust LMS can be the difference between swimming and drowning. Where to start? Let’s get you above water with this three-step approach to showing your board why it’s time to upgrade.

3 Steps to a Robust LMS

  1. Identify the functionality needed to support your current education initiatives and a few “ideal state” items for programs that could “wow” your board
  2. Research robust learning management systems that are equipped to handle the identified functionality
  3. Present your business case and get the budget approved

Identification

According to Dr. Andy Hicken, the number one question you should be asking yourself when considering if it’s time for a robust LMS:“Is our current LMS functionality limiting the association’s growth potential?” If you answered yes, then it’s simple. It’s time for an upgrade! A more robust LMS will allow you to expand your educational offerings, improve administrative efficiency via integrations, and have data to continuously improve the quality of your programs. Certifications and badging programs have more extensive setup and tracking requirements but can be a great source of non-dues revenue for associations. Some example use cases that lead to a robust LMS include multi-tenancy (sub-sites for member organizations or selling bulk content to businesses), education programs that offer multiple types and amounts of credit, and adding a virtual component to your annual conference.

Research

Once you’ve identified your association’s current and future needs for your online learning business, it’s time to do your research. There are many ways to approach this phase. Some associations work with consultants like Tagoras, Talented Learning, Bluestreak, or Delcor to conduct a request for proposal (RFP) or request for information (RFI) and send it to the appropriate LMS vendors. Others prefer to keep it in house and do the research on their own terms. Some organizations don’t go through the tedious RFP process while others are required to. If you are one of these associations, check out “How to Write an RFP for LMS Vendors”, written by Jon Aleckson.  One of most important things is to know what you’re looking for so you can narrow your list of vendors from the onset. LMS vendors that specialize will usually know (and be honest about) if they are a good fit for your needs or if they recommend looking elsewhere.

Presentation

Following the research phase, many organizations will have a much clearer picture of the requirements they need and a range of what that will cost. Depending on how your association operates, you may have had to get board approval prior to even doing research, but we’re assuming you did a bit of research prior to presenting to the board. Now, you can provide detail into what upfront costs will be, and back up the costs with an estimated ROI based on new revenue from additional course offerings. Pricing eLearning can be tricky, but there a ton of resources to help you out. Let vendors help you sell them, they do this every day so don’t shy away asking for advice. Check out our resource for getting your eLearning initiative approved by clicking here.

Whether you want to increase your overall member engagement, you have increased involvement in continuing education, or you’re looking for features like certification and reporting, you’ve come to the right place. If you would like more consultation on how to find your next learning management system or simply improve on your current eLearning program, contact us.

 

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