LMS implementation doesn't have to be complex. With this 5-step project plan, you can get your LMS up and running fast and start providing customers, employees or channel partners meaningful learning experiences.
All good things start with a plan. Implementing your learning management system (LMS) is no different. When you’re trying to decrease time-to-value, you need to get going quickly to see results. So, your first step is to sit down and have a kickoff call. What you discuss during this meeting will serve as the backbone of your LMS, and subsequently, your learning program.
Talking Points for Your Kickoff Meeting
Design and Customization: How much do you want to invest in customizing the LMS design? Do you want to insert your brand colors and logo or do you want a completely custom experience?
Content Needs: What content do you already have available? What content gaps exist and what will it take to fill them? Also, ask yourself how complex you want your program to be at what content is necessary for launch.
Technical Capabilities: Does your team have the technical talent in-house to set up integrations, webhooks, API protocols, and other technical considerations? If not, you’ll have to hire a third-party team to do this work for you. The LMS you choose to implement will likely be influenced by the talent you have at your disposal.
From there, you canbuild your team. In a perfect world, your team will consist of at least the six team members below; however, it’s possible to implement your LMS with a smaller team that consists of a Team Lead and Content Creator. Just keep in mind that time-to-value will increase substantially.
Team Lead:This person corrals everyone and keeps the team on track. They’re responsible for ensuring the process goes smoothly and you achieve your goals.
Subject Matter Expert (SME):This person will use their knowledge and expertise of your product to create a logical plan for learning.
Instructional Designer:This person takes information from the SME and develops the story and structure of the learning experience.
Graphic Designer:This person converts the above concepts into a visually engaging reality.
Technical Lead:This person is responsible for the backend and any technical components of the LMS.
Video Editor:This person works with the other designers to turn static content into engaging videos.
Pro Tip: Before you start building your team, get an executive sponsor who’ll fight for you (and your budget). It doesn’t matter how good your learning program is if the top of the company isn’t on board.
As you build your team, you’ll also want to agree on objectives from two vantage points:
Learning Goals:What are youractuallearning goals? What are you trying to help your learners accomplish? Think about metrics like product adoption and course engagement.
Business Goals:How does your LMS and learning program tie back to the overall business goals? Think about metrics such as revenue growth and customer acquisition that the leadership team uses to make strategic business decisions.
You have a plan, a team and a set of objectives. Now it’s time to start building.
Plan First, Then Execute:Don’t just start creating content. While it may seem like the right thing to do, you may be wasting valuable resources. Before you dive in, take time to plan what you need for the launch, including outlines, storyboards and visuals of the final product. This will keep you on track and ensure you’re only spending time creating what you need.
Use What You Have:You’d be surprised by how much content you already have. Remember that you don’tneednet-new materials right away. Anything will do. So, see what videos, documents, slide shows, blog posts or infographics you or other departments have ready to go.
Leverage Groups and Tags:Do what you can to make your life as easy as possible upon launch. One thing you can do is optimize delivery methods. Most modern LMSs allow you to use tags and group permissions to organize content and learners.
Create Learning Paths and Assign Prerequisites:Create anylearning pathsthat you’ll use to ensure people are getting an optimized experience that takes them through the content and toward a specific goal. Prerequisites ensure people take specific courses before moving on to the next ones. Gating the sequence makes sure learning objectives are met.
Account Configuration It’s time to go behind the scenes and configure the necessary features necessary to accomplish your goals. Of course, this will vary based on use cases and learners’ needs, but here are some common configurations you may have made to improve engagement.
Search and discovery (category tags that auto-populate information people type into the search bar.)
Finally, you’ll need to migrate any data from your existing LMS or your tech stack.
The next step is to launch it, right? Well, kind of.
Before a full-blown ribbon-cutting ceremony, take a handpicked group of people and have them put the LMS through the wringer. These people should be similar to the larger userbase. So, if you’re training customers, ask a few existing customers to test it out. If you’re planning to train partners, do it with one or two you’re currently working with.
During your soft launch, you’ll want to mirror the processes, steps and tasks everyone else will take when you launch. This should include everything from logging in with SSO (or other authentication methods) for the first time to taking a course or moving through aLearning Path. You should also test the UX and aspects like mobile responsiveness. Additionally, you should look at the LMS’ administration side, where they manage their users, content and reports to streamline their education services and track the success of their program.
Test everything. Literally. The more you test, the smoother the launch will go and the quicker everyone starts realizing value. As you go, keep tabs on everything and work with your LMS vendor to iron out the wrinkles.
Once you make sure any issues are resolved, have the user data flow through for a bit and can analyze it, you’re ready to launch. You should also develop a plan on how you’re to communicate the launch with the company, especially the leadership team. This communication could come in an email, an in-person meeting if learners are in the same location or a video call if they’re spread out.
Once the LMS implementation process is complete, give everyone involved a pat on the back. You did it. But the game isn’t over. After your learners have been using the technology for a bit (at least two weeks, but ideally a month), take a step back and assess how the implementation went and the initial learning experience.
From the technical side, did everything go smoothly? Is anyone having trouble accessing content? Is data flowing through via SSO? Are integration syncs connecting?
At the same time, look at your learners and get an understanding of how they’re doing. Sure, you had a vision of the final product, but is that actually how it turned out?
Look at as many learner-level metrics as possible:
Multiple Course Analysis:Review learner progress, course attempts, and access dates across multiple courses.
Single Quiz Analysis:See how your learners are performing on a specific quiz.
Instructor-Led Training:Understand which learners have registered for your instructor-led training.
Credential Achievements:Review which learners achieved their certifications and when.
User Error:See if users encountered account access issues or reach out with questions regarding course content.
Design Updates:Understand if you need to update the design or make necessary tweaks with your design team.
Integration Issues:Check and ensure all of your integrations are working as intended.
LMS Implementation: Final Thoughts
The growing prominence and popularity of online learning are putting a premium on advancedlearning management systems (LMS)that can keep up. Once a “nice-to-have” for mature learning teams, the technology is quickly turning into a necessity. Unfortunately, an LMS isn’t just plug and play — there’s an entire implementation process necessary to get things up and running fast.
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