If you are reading this article, you most likely want to effectively organize the learning process for your company or educational institution. The demand for learning management systems is constantly increasing for the corporate and academic sectors.
The Linkedin Workplace Learning report states that 57% of learning and development professionals spend more time with online learning in 2020 than they did three years ago. And the education sector accounts for 21% of the entire global LMS market.
We believe that planning is key to a successful LMS implementation. In this article, we share our LMS implementation checklist and reveal the best practices on how to do it quickly and meet users’ requirements.
What to consider before implementing an LMS
Before planning an implementation project, it would be best to align critical components that influence your LMS development. Examine key requirements and your financial capability to build your project from the very beginning wisely.
Your LMS requirements
LMS development can take three to ten months depending on deployment type, the number of features, and budget. When planning an LMS implementation, consider the following requirements.
The feature set for your LMS is determined by the user needs and the type of content. If your goal is to streamline employee onboarding, you’ll probably choose tools for automating learning management and learners’ engagement.
On the other hand, schools and universities need scalable solutions to adopt e-learning and provide students with feedback quickly. In that case, assessment tools and content support systems are priority features.
Depending on feature complexity, LMS development time and cost can vary. That’s why you should carefully choose must-have features and build your implementation plan around them. Learners will need an easy-to-use platform that excites interest and motivates them to keep learning. Here are essential components for any LMS, prioritized by user needs:
- Content support system
- Personalized learning path
- E-learning management
- Mobile learning
- Social learning tools
- Assessment tools
- Analytics and reports
Any learning management system interacts with user-sensitive data. Names, emails, passwords, social security numbers can be a target for cybercriminals. If your LMS platform is unprotected, malefactors can corrupt the data, blackmail your organization or intrude into other systems your LMS is connected with.
Security management is a must for providing quality service and saving costs on recovery procedures. The core functionality that strengthens your LMS security includes:
- Multi-factor authentication
- Password validation
- Data and platform access control
- Data backup and encryption
- IP blockers, antiviruses, other integrations
It would help if you established your security policy before assigning tasks for developers, so they can estimate the time needed to add required security features.
Besides, ignoring legal compliance can cost you hefty fines. Here’re some regulations to pay attention to:
- Specifications and standards for distance learning systems: SCORM, Tin Can, etc.
- Data protection and management standards: GDPR, ISO
- Specific industry regulation: FERPA for the educational sector
Handling LMS compliance during the development process decreases risks and costs for software development. With a real-time compliance assurance approach, you can automate the development process and minimize corrections cost, including code refactoring and re-testing.
Your budget and potential expenses
Investing in LMS is reasonable for a lot of organizations. Statistics show that 94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if invested in their learning and development. 90% of students prefer learning online to traditional learning methods. Whether you are from an educational institution or L&D specialist, your organization can benefit by investing in LMS development:
- You’ll get your learning content organized.
- You’ll easily keep your content up-to-date.
- You’ll get tools to assess and track learners’ progress.
- Your learners will spend less time on course completion.
- You’ll reduce the cost of training.
To assess the potential cost of LMS development, you should consider software development pricing models and project complexity. Project complexity is determined by the required feature set, UX/UI design complexity, software integrations, data migration, and outsourced talent.
These variables influence the time needed to build sustainable software. Learn more about software development pricing models from the table below.
Software development pricing models
|Best for long-term partnership and complex projects. When you outsource a dedicated team, they focus on your project profoundly, are flexible to changes, and can reorganize work at any stage of development. Such groups usually charge hourly rates for each team member.|
Time and Material engagement
|This approach is suitable for a well-established project plan, where minor changes can occur. Developers can take payments for milestones completed or within a set time interval.|
|Best for small projects, such as creating landing pages, WordPress-driven apps, etc. You’ll sign a contract where deadlines and prices are indicated. Developers can charge you for any other requirements outside contract terms.|
LMS development can reveal hidden expenses, which is better to prepare. For example, to get a certificate, you could pay licensing fees. LMS updates and maintenance will cost you some money. Consider these variables when planning your budget.
Integration with other software
Integrations provide efficient LMS administration and improve user experience. Your project team should know how you want to handle content management, user registration, and data collection. We suggest answering the following questions to help your development team choose integration approaches:
- Will you upload and create learning content directly in LMS or embed it from other websites (Google Docs, YouTube, cloud-based services, etc.)?
- Will your users self-register or join the LMS by invitation from their workspace systems?
- Will you need learners’ data to be passed to your HR system, etc.?
LMS implementation: step-by-step
Now that you know essential components that influence learning management system implementation, you can align the main steps to implement an LMS.
LMS implementation steps:
- Choose your LMS provider or development partner.
- Build an internal elearning team.
- Make an implementation plan.
- Create educational content for your LMS.
- Release a pilot version of the LMS.
- Launch your learning management system.
- Prepare for future adjustments and updates.
Step 1. Choose your LMS provider or development partner
Take a close look at the goals and financial capabilities of your organization. What results do you expect to get after the learning management system implementation? Answer this question to help you choose the LMS format that best suits your situation.
You can implement a ready-made solution or decide to develop your custom LMS. Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages.
There are situations in which a custom LMS works better than a SaaS solution. Custom learning management system helps with:
- specific integration requirements (custom HR system, content management system, etc.)
- file formats that ready-made solutions may not support,
- social learning requirements,
- multiple device access,
- content and use bulk upload,
- advanced reporting tools.
Step 2. Build an internal elearning team
No matter what solution you choose for your LMS, it would help if you had a support team to help you perform each implementation stage. When developing an implementation plan, get a different perspective on elearning needs from your colleagues from various departments.
Create an implementation team that will be responsible for LMS roll-out. Your core team may include:
- Team leader. Primary responsibility is to manage the implementation process, communicate with the LMS provider or development team.
- Project manager. This person transforms organization goals into estimated implementation tasks.
- Elearning expert. You’ll need someone from your organization involved in course creation to help you align learner and educator requirements.
- Administrator or superviser. Assign an individual who deeply understands organization requirements like assessment, certifications, and progress reports.
- IT specialist. This person ensures a successful integration process.
Involve your team in creating an LMS implementation plan to make it well-thought-out.
Step 3. Make an implementation plan
Implementation of the learning management system implies constant interaction with the development team or LMS vendor. So before introducing the project plan, you should provide a communication plan for your team.
Think of how you’ll assign tasks and track the progress, who is responsible at what stage of implementation. A well-built communication strategy helps to see blocking tasks and reorganize workflow to go through any difficulties efficiently.
When your communication plan is set, you can create a project plan. For a ready-made solution, you should ask your LMS vendor for an implementation plan. The project plan will help you to track progress and focus on achieving your primary goals.
For those, who decided to build a custom LMS, we recommend following the LMS implementation checklist.
Step 4. Create educational content for your LMS
Creating a plain LMS without any educational content in it makes little sense. You should prepare a few courses to start with. If you already have some learning content, it would be best to revise it. Some parts of it may require an update, and more likely, you’ll need to adapt it to your LMS.
Make sure that your courses are split into small parts and have the proper file formatting. You’re free to organize learning content according to your LMS-specific features. You can also create your courses from scratch. Turn to a learning professional to help you develop a consistent training program on the topics you want to educate your learners on.
We suggest adding an introductory course on LMS usage to help your users get familiar with the interface and features.
Step 5. Release a pilot version of the LMS
Releasing a pilot version is an essential stage of implementation. It helps you test out your software, find its weaknesses at early stages and improve your final performance. Pilot versions usually have only the vital features to bring an expected value.
For example, your LMS won’t function without content creation and management features, but it’ll survive without gamification or social learning at the early stages. Developing a minimum viable product is beneficial because:
- you can quickly test the idea
- you can get feedback from real users
- it’s easy to update and fix bugs
- you can minimize the risk of failure
When you’re sure that core features work well and an application UI is not cluttered, you can launch your LMS.
Step 6. Launch your learning management system
Now you’re ready to launch your LMS. Two more things you should do are to prepare your educators and administrators and perform data migration.
Your LMS will require you to receive data from the systems it interferes with and the educational content you’ve prepared. It can take a while, so allocate enough time to do that. Involve your IT specialist in estimating the time needed for data migration. Let your development team cooperate with your IT department to perform data migration smoothly.
After the required data is set, you can train your staff to work with the LMS. Teach your team how to use new software efficiently and how to troubleshoot user problems. Conduct role-playing games based on real-life situations so that your employees are ready to help learners adapt to new software. You can now invite new learners to join your LMS and enjoy your success.
Step 7. Prepare for future adjustments and updates
When you launch the learning management system, the work isn’t done yet. Continue to collect feedback from users to plan future upgrades. Add new features, improve user experience, add new types of content. You’re free to scale your LMS as you wish, as long as its improvements serve your organization’s goals.
How we can help with LMS implementation
Riseapps has 2+ years of experience in delivering successful projects in elearning. We can lead you through the LMS implementation steps, starting from goal analysis to testing and post-release support. Let us know your specific requirements, and we’ll help you build an MVP within three months to test out your idea.
We offer web and mobile development and build sustainable applications using the most efficient technology stack. Our customers get full-fledged software that is easy to scale. Our recent achievement is Melanence, an elearning project that unites entrepreneurs of color. The platform was valued at $4.5 million at the beginning of 2021.
A learning management system is an excellent tool for automating the learning process for corporate organizations and educational institutions. It helps to deal with distance learning, assessment, learners’ management, and content management.
Implementing an LMS requires thorough preparation. You should clearly understand your goals and carefully choose your development partner. Pay attention to the previous experience of the development team, ask if they provide project planning and post-implementation support.
Don’t hesitate to discuss any concerns you have before hiring a software development team. Follow your LMS implementation steps to do it smoothly.
How do you implement an LMS system?
There are two approaches to implementing an LMS. You can either choose a ready-made solution or develop an LMS from scratch.
The ready-made LMS is quick to install and cost-efficient, but it has a limited feature set and may not meet your requirement. Developing a custom LMS requires time and planning, but you’re flexible in choosing specific functionality. You don’t depend on third-party providers and get better security.
How do I launch an LMS?
Before launching your LMS, you should carefully examine your organization’s needs and create an implementation plan. Here’re common steps to implement an LMS:
- Choose your LMS provider or development partner
- Build an internal elearning team
- Make an implementation plan
- Create educational content for your LMS
- Release a pilot version of the LMS
- Launch your learning management system
- Prepare for future adjustments and updates
Contact us if you need a hand in consistent LMS implementation.