If you are a professional or trade association and you are looking to invest in a Learning Management System, either as your first learning solution or upgrading your platform, the Association LMS Demo will be an invaluable part of your selection process. So what do you need to see to help you decide which LMS is right for you?
Well, this is probably the most important question you could ask yourself before the demo. What features, workflows, or navigation paths when shown will allow you to understand if this learning management system is right for you? Understanding and being able to clearly articulate your requirements to the vendor, will enable the LMS demonstrator to prepare for the demo to ensure they can clearly show you how the platform will meet your needs.
If this is your first LMS, you might be worried that you can't describe how you expect the technology to work. Don't worry - the important thing is being able to describe your processes to the vendor. They understand the technology and should have a good enough understanding of how education programs are structured by associations to be able to translate your current process into a clear presentation of how their platform can support your requirements.
If you are familiar with learning management systems, make this clear to the vendor too, as they can skip some of the background explanation of how these platforms usually work, in order to get into the detail of what exactly you need.
A good vendor will do their research and ask you about your requirements before setting up the demo, in order to show you the system as it might be tailored for you, if you go on to purchase. It can be helpful for your association and the vendor, of you can provide brief descriptions of specific use cases that are important to your education program, so that the vendor can build these into the demo.
The Association LMS Demo can provide some insight into how well you might work with a particular vendor if you enter into a contract. Think of it like a trial run for your partnership, because an LMS is an investment that will see you working together for years to come. Is the vendor responsive to your questions? Are they comfortable enough with the platform and experienced enough in working with associations to pause their sales patter to answer you, or to change direction completely to immediately reassure your concerns about a different part of the system? Do they really understand what you need, and can engage in a meaningful discussion and demonstration of your requirements, rather than a rehearsed, overly scripted, walk-through of the system? Ensure you research the background of the vendor and their experience in working with associations specifically, through customer references and case studies, either before or after the demo, so you know who you will be working with.
Associations have unique and sometimes complex education education requirements, that can be very different to those of corporate organizations. There are many LMS vendors that claim to provide a system that supports Associations, but many have not developed feature sets specifically required by associations. In many cases, a generic platform is being sold as meeting all requirements of many industries, but excelling in none. In the demo, make sure you clearly understand what the LMS vendor can provide, and what functions might need to be provided by a third party, or integrated product. You might want to ask, what features make an Association LMS different?
What do you need to see in an Association LMS Demo?
Our post on the Five Key Features Your Association LMS Needs is a great description of the essential features any LMS must have to provide basic support for association education programs. However, association education programs can be quite complex and have additional, unique requirements. For example, providing continuing education programs requires associations to manage complex requirements for multiple credit types, differing regulations and licensing rules for states, regions and countries. Association learning technology solutions must be able to handle these complexities, while simplifying administration for association executives in areas such as the organization and management of the catalog, or in the tracking of individual learner training histories.
If your association offers credentialing or certification programs, this adds to the complexity. Many association LMS platforms do not incorporate credential management or support for a re-certification cycle, so it is important to see a presentation of these capabilities in the association LMS demo, if it is a requirement for your association.
The demo should also be able to showcase other association-specific feature sets, including webinar management, eCommerce, social and mobile capabilities. Though it may not be included in a first demo, it is also important to understand how integration to association management systems, and other systems, such as webinar platforms, is handled by the vendor. The vendor should be able to provide references for past integration projects, describe clearly whether the integration is a part of their standard services, or whether it requires a third-party, or plug-in to work.
Have you experienced the Best Association LMS Demo?
In honor of International Women's Day today, March 8, we have to give a special mention to a very important woman at WBT Systems. Our CTO, Linda Bowers, was named the Best LMS Demonstrator in 2015. Describing her expertise, John Leh, of Talented Learning, said:
"Linda is in the 1% of all LMS professionals that can literally do it all from a sales, demonstration, implementation, support, technical and executive perspective. With an Irish lilt, she charms audiences with her extreme competence and preparation as she shows the WBT TopClass LMS solving the prospect’s exact business challenges. She makes administrators cheer, executive sponsors relax, CIOs nod in agreement and everyone laugh. As she is ultimately responsible for the TopClass LMS implementation and support, she installs a sense of confidence in the audience because she truly understands their problems and will personally guide them to success."
You can see Linda and John discussing "How to Select an Association (and not a corporate) LMS" and sharing real life case studies in a free webinar hosted by Talented Learning on March 30 at 1pm ET.