With more than 700 learning platforms on the market, how do you narrow the field down to the best learning management systems (LMS) for your association’s needs? You could go it alone and rely on the recommendations of your peers on forums and review sites. Or, to ensure you absolutely get the best LMS for your association, hire an LMS consultant to help you with requirements, selection, and implementation.
Benefits of Working with an LMS Consultant
LMS consultants have helped dozens, if not hundreds, of associations choose the best LMS for their needs. They stay on top of online learning trends and are familiar with learning systems and other association technology. Their knowledge of LMS providers goes beyond a company’s reputation. They know the strengths of each product as well as its integration capabilities, the ways associations use the product, and the company’s culture.
They’ve worked with associations that provide all types of online educational programs from webinar and conference recordings to certification and accreditation programs, online courses and learning communities, digital badges, learning pathways, mobile and blending learning, and more.
Consultants draw on their deep experience to ensure you get the right technology for your existing and future needs. They’ll help you anticipate and prevent problems and steer away from avoidable and unnecessary expenses. With their proven processes, you’ll save time during selection and implementation so your programs will be up and running more quickly. You’ll choose technology that helps you deliver the best learning experience possible to members and customers, and the maximum revenue to your bottom line.
How LMS Consultants Help with Requirements Analysis
Consultants know what you don’t know but need to know. They know what questions to ask during the requirements gathering process to elicit the information needed for a request for proposal (RFP), including questions you’d never think about asking.
The success of your LMS and online learning programs depends greatly upon the thoroughness of your requirements analysis process. First, your consultant helps you identify the people who should participate in requirements discussions.
They’re skilled at helping you uncover core technical and functional requirements, and determining which needs are “must-haves” and which are “nice-to-haves.” They bring an objective perspective to these sometimes contentious discussions and helps your team navigate through departmental politics and difficult decisions.
Consultants are business analysts. They evaluate your existing business processes and make suggestions for improvement. Because they’ve seen associations handle similar tasks in many different ways, they can suggest process options that you may never have considered. Their advice saves you time and money. It’s better to adapt a business process to new software than customize new software so it works with your old process. Customization is an additional implementation expense and a future upgrade expense if the code for customized software must be rewritten so it aligns with system upgrades.
How LMS Consultants Help with Selection
Because they know the LMS market, consultants have a good idea about what your budget will buy. They can save you time by narrowing down the field of hundreds to a handful of LMS vendors who have the best product and approach to fit your association’s needs.
Consultants help you create a Request for Proposal (RFP). They become the main point of contact with vendors, for example, answering their questions and following up with them to get additional information. They develop use-case scenarios to ensure the product meets requirements during vendor demonstrations and later during user acceptance testing.
They develop a script for product demos so you see what you need to see during the demo and can compare all vendors equally. After evaluating proposals and demos, the consultant makes their final recommendation. Once you’ve selected a vendor and LMS, they help you review the contract and other service agreements.
How LMS Consultants Help with Implementation
Associations might have an LMS consultant help them only with requirements and selection. But many associations have their LMS consultant (or someone else on the consultant’s team) stay on to help with implementation, i.e., project management.
Your LMS provider may have a project manager but your association needs its own. In some cases, a technology implementation project has many moving parts and requires more attention than an association professional with an already full plate can usually give it. It’s not impossible to go it alone, but sometimes a big project can be challenging.
It’s always the things that aren’t on your radar that are bound to set a project back. Because of their extensive implementation project experience and expertise, an LMS consultant knows what to look out for. They anticipate potential risks and likely challenges, and take steps to prevent them.
The LMS consultant keeps in touch with everyone on the vendor team and on your team. They make sure your project stays on budget and on time. They ensure all requirements, use cases, and deliverables are met as defined in the contract.
They oversee data and content migration, and any integrations with other software. When the software is delivered, they coordinate and monitor user testing. They can also help you with documentation and training.
The consultant’s job with every client is to help bring about change, so they’re skilled at change management—an area of technology implementation that’s not given as much attention as it deserves. They can help you anticipate issues and provide guidance for your staff’s transition to new technology and processes.
If you search online for “association LMS (or technology) selection,” you’ll see some of the association industry’s most respected consultants in the search results. Even if you decide to go it alone, check out their websites for resources on requirements, selection, implementation, and project management. The more you know about what lies ahead, the more successful your LMS project will be.