Congratulations, you have decided to purchase your LMS. All you need to do now is roll it out, upload a few courses, and wait for the kudos and compliments to come in. Right?
Purchasing an LMS, like any major corporate decision, has a wide-ranging variety of implications, and any project as involved as launching an LMS initiative will have a host of conditions required for success. Given your LMS investment, you want to make sure in advance you have crossed all your t’s and dotted all your i’s, laying this necessary groundwork.
To this end, before launching your LMS, you first need to identify its success factors, that is to say, the factors that need to be in place to ensure its success. What are these factors? Here are five we see as critical.
Success Factor 1: Secure executive sponsorship
Every pyramid starts with a base, and every building starts with a foundation. You can have the greatest blueprint in the world, but when you build your structure on a foundation of quicksand, don’t be surprised if you end up with something that looks less like the Empire State building and more like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
So, for LMS implementations, what’s the foundation? It’s executive sponsorship. Without the executive team being on board with the rollout of the LMS, how will you be able to make any progress on implementation, securing the right budget, and creating the right priorities? It turns out creating the base of the pyramid starts at the top; the only reason you see pyramids at all is because Pharaoh wanted one!
So, the bottom line is this: before you begin to implement your LMS project, make sure everyone on your executive team is in sync and on board so you’re not out — of luck!
Success Factor 2: Define clear requirements
Every LMS implementation has a list of requirements, and every list is different. The LMS that is chosen needs to map onto those requirements. You can derive your requirements by asking questions, and make sure that you are able to secure the answers to those questions before implementation:
- What courses will we be rolling out?
- What are the roles we need to define for the LMS?
- What are the learning pathways we need to create for each role?
- What reports do we need to run?
- Do we need to track compliance certification?
- Do we have any special requirements for data security?
- Are departmental chargeback capabilities necessary?
- Does third-party content need to be integrated?
- Do synchronous virtual classroom activities need to be managed?
Of course, this is just a short list, and yours will be much longer, but the generic point is simple: make sure you’ve got one.
Success Factor 3: Secure a sufficient budget
As everyone knows, one of the key reasons that new businesses fail is that they are undercapitalized. The same phenomenon is true of the LMS rollout: every budgetary impact needs to be calculated in advance, an adequate budget needs to be secured for each component, and it is a good project management practice to plan for any unanticipated spillages. The following are some of the factors you need to consider in planning your budget:
- The licensing cost of the LMS
- Cost to implement the LMS
- Cost to create training
- Ongoing costs for LMS management
- Support staff costs
Because these costs will be ongoing over a period of years, it is a best practice to create a five-year budgetary plan in advance and make sure that the funds will be available over that time span.
Success Factor 4: Create a stakeholder communication plan
It is one thing to rollout an LMS and implement it. It is another to have ongoing communication about the LMS once it has been initiated. Naturally, in the beginning stages of a major project, everyone is going to be on board and engaged to ensure that success. But once everything has been rolled out initially and everything is running smoothly, executive attention can easily move to other details of the business, with LMS considerations routed to the back burner. To prevent this, the executive LMS implementation team should create an ongoing stakeholder communication plan, which could be as simple as creating a standing monthly meeting, sharing emails, creating a forum on the intranet, and/or appointing an LMS “owner” who is responsible for providing status updates on an ongoing basis.
Success Factor 5: Create a post-implementation benefit plan
Well, the good news is in… the LMS has been rolled out and is successful. But now you want to make sure the LMS stays successful. It is important for you to create ongoing incentives for your stakeholders and end-users to make sure LMS usage stays right at the forefront. In this regard, some ideas to consider are:
- Tying in salary increases to LMS course completion;
- Tying in promotions to LMS course completion;
- Making course completion a component of a successful annual review.
An LMS is a significant investment, and like any investment, you want to make sure that every dollar spent results in more than a dollar returned. There are numerous benchmark factors in making your LMS investment a success, and we have identified five of them here. Of course, there are many others, and we urge you to utilize not only the five success factors we have identified above, but create your own list, a list right on point with the needs of your business.