The Great LMS Selection Adventure

Well, lucky me finally convinced people that we need an LMS. Now I just need to figure out which one will work best for us. About a year ago I started down this same path, but the project was put on hold. I’ve been in touch with one vendor from my earlier list, but I have a sneaking suspicion the landscaped has changed in the last year.

At the eLearning Guild Annual Gathering I was surprised by how few LMS vendors were there. I figured there would be a bunch of companies promoting their products. Maybe most vendors have hit a saturation point where they are living off the support/upgrade/maintenance agreements. Based on my research, ongoing support adds up to a lot of money, which is why I’m comparing prices over five years. Some LMSs have a relatively low initial cost, but high support costs. Others have high initial cost, but low year-to-year costs. Some are just downright outrageously expensive no matter how you look at it.

I’ve started doing my homework, starting with the eLearning Guild’s Learning Management Systems 2008 report and their 382 Tips on the Selection of an LMS. Both are great resources. I’ve been coming up with requirements based on our current processes and what can save us time. Requirements are tough to define. You can base them on what you currently do, but some things always fall through the cracks. Just today I came across Tracy Hamilton’s post My 300th post is a call for LMS Help which deals with managing classroom training in a LMS. She has some interesting issues with scheduling that I would have never considered. (Thanks Tracy!)

Then you have to consider what is possible, not just what you currently do. “What if…” scenarios can hold the keys to future efficiencies. Just imagine if about 5 years ago the record labels had asked “What if we embrace this peer-to-peer stuff?” how different the music industry would be today. I don’t want to miss future opportunities.

Then there is the money to consider. Last year I told a vendor that 90% of LMSs do 90% of what I need them to, so the biggest factor in selection is cost. If an LMS saves me $20K over five years but doesn’t have a couple of minor features, I’m going to save some money. Sorry, but that’s reality. Money matters most to me in this decision.

In my current search I’ve looked at seriously at Inquisiq, talked with the folks at SyberWorks, and looked into ClickCourse.  I have a list with a few others that I’m going to look into. So far, I like Inquisic because they put their prices on their web site and allow you to quickly setup up a trial, without spamming you. ClickCourse is in my budget, but I’m not sure it will handle the classroom training. I’ll be posting more as look at other vendors.

At this point I don’t want vendors contacting me. If you’re not a salesperson and you want to recommend an LMS, please leave a comment or email me directly. My email is in the right nav bar. I give a lot of weight to peer recommendations. On second thought, if you’re a salesperson with an LMS that costs less than $10,000 for the first year for 2000+ learners, you can contact me. I like hosted solutions because my IT group is busy with Office 2007 upgrades.

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7 Responses to The Great LMS Selection Adventure

  1. Ena says:

    Hi,

    We have a Syberworks LMS. It is easy to use because it is based off of word, but that also makes it quirky and a little limited.

    If you would like to see a course and get a feel for what I mean, please contact me.

    Ena

  2. A.Papagelis says:

    If interface plays a crucial role to your decision check eFront at http://www.efrontlearning.net
    It is an open-source solution you may download and check without cost. They offer hosted solutions as well for a price.

  3. Janet Clarey says:

    It is hard to recommend an LMS without at least seeing a use case and getting some background info. What does a typical day look like from the learner perspective, administrator perspective, IT, trainers, etc.?

    Here are some typical questions you might want to make sure you answer when selecting (and you may have already done this):
    Do you want a hosted or non-hosted system? Are you creating any elearning in-house (if so, how much?), do you use third-party content that you need integrated with the system? do you need to manage ILT?, do you need to integrate with another enterprise system? (HR, etc.), do you need to track compliance/certification?, do you need to track skill gaps and assign learning interventions?, do you need virtual classroom capabilities?, do you need support for social media?

    Best of luck selecting your system.
    Janet

    Also-
    There is a for-fee LMS KnowledgeBase you can use to narrow your search:
    http://www.brandon-hall.com/publications/pubs_lms.shtml
    (I work for Brandon Hall Research)

  4. A. Papagelis – Thanks for the link, I will check it out.

    Janet – Thanks for the link to the Brandon Hall KB, I’ll be spending some time there. I have considered most of the points you made, but hadn’t thought too much about the typical learner day. The learner experience with the LMS is probably more important than how we use it as admins or managers. Thanks for bringing that up. Our requirements are pretty minimal, mostly basic tracking so we know who has completed what course.

    Gary

  5. mullygrub says:

    I’m one of those people searching for an LMS at the moment too. One of the products we are considering is Moodle (http://moodle.org/) which may be worth some investigation. From what I have read so far, unless you have a really supportive IT department with time to spare getting someone else to host it is generally a better option. Moodle is open source which depending on who you speak with has its pros and cons.

    Good luck with everything. Let us know what happens!

    Shelley
    B-)

  6. Shelley, I hope your search goes well. I’ve got some updates on my search that I hope to get out in the next couple of days. I have seen (and used) Moodle. A while back I did a blog post about it. It’s a good platform if you have people that can manage it. I am definitely leaning toward a hosted solution, though.
    Also, B.J. Schone has some recent LMS posts over at his blog you might want to check out.

  7. Beth says:

    I have also been looking for an LMS solution. I am still actively searching, but eFront does seem to have competitive prices for the hosted options. Here’s the link to their pricing page: http://www.efrontlearning.net/services.php.

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