And we’re still looking for that LMS…

It’s been a long and busy 10 months since my last blog post with lots of ups and downs, celebrations and sorrows, accomplishments and let downs. Some of these I’ll get around to telling because I want to share what I’ve learned, good and bad. One of the things I would put in the “let downs” list is I have not locked down an LMS. To be honest, I didn’t spend that much time looking for an LMS in the last year; it’s just been a busy year.

I thought I had found an LMS with ClickCourse, but I realized I needed something that can manage classroom and online training for both customers and employees. Instead of looking at vendors, we spent a lot of time scoping and documenting requirements, and when all was said and done we had a long list of requirements. Coming up with the requirements forced us to look at what we really do as training developers and managers, and in many cases caused us to question why we did certain things. It helped focus on the main goals of an LMS and how an LMS will help us do our jobs better. With that renewed focus we are in a better place to make a decision, a decision based on business goals.

That’s an important point, because it applies to what we do as course developers and where we should always start – the goal. Every training and learning initiative should have a clear goal. It sounds obvious, but it something that’s easy to forget and brush aside.  A lot of courses get created because something new comes along or some policy gets handed down, but that doesn’t mean the training is divorced from business goals. If you’re training isn’t clearly tied to a business goal, you need to go back to square one and figure it out. If there is no goal, don’t waste your time on training.

The goal should be tangible, tied to business outcomes, and communicated to stakeholders. Communicating how the training ties directly to a business goal can be the key to the success of your training, and the initiative it supports. In many cases it’s pretty easy, which makes it easy to overlook.

Many businesses implement new systems or applications to improve efficiency, then roll out training to all employees. The training goal shouldn’t be training the new system, it should be improving efficiency and maximizing return on investment of the new system. In most cases, you don’t want to teach all aspects of a new system to every employee, you want to teach each group the specific processes and features they need. The overall goal will be supported by the training objectives for each group.

Yes, this is training design basics. In the block diagram for ADDIE defining goals is the first step, but one thing I’ve learned over the last year is that it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of the basics and not take the obvious for granted.

In my search for an LMS I’ve clearly defined my goals. Those goals guided the process of defining requirements and prioritizing the requirements. I’m still looking, but have a clear picture of what I need and how it will help reach business goals.