If you’re reading this, you’re probably looking for your first (or next) learning management system. Picking what platform to use can be quite a challenge in itself; and that’s just the beginning. Once you’ve chosen what LMS platform you are going to use, you also have to set it up, test it, refine the process, and only then will you be able to formally launch it.
LMS implementation is the most tedious task when setting up your eLearning initiative. Yes, it’s true that courses might take some technical and creative skills to create. However, without a learning management system, all the courses you or your team have created would just be for naught.
Setting the LMS as the foundation of your company’s eLearning program is the most critical part of integrating tech into your company’s learning processes. Yet, most aren’t able to implement and launch their learning management systems properly.
This is why we came up with this LMS implementation checklist. We understand that the process of selecting and deploying an LMS is a momentous task for any organization. We find that these LMS implementation best practices are of great help to newcomers to eLearning when they finally decide to get their own learning management system.
6 LMS implementation steps to take before you officially launch your LMS
Here are six steps on how to implement a new system for your organization. These steps in implementing a new system are based off best practices commonly employed by learning professionals and project managers alike.
Step 1: Create an LMS Implementation Project Plan
Like with any other endeavor, the first step to implementing a learning management system is formulating a plan. The Little Prince’s author, Antoine de Saint-Exupery said it best: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” The same goes when implementing your company’s LMS.
At the heart of any plan is the initiative’s objectives. And the first step involves having a clear understanding of what your organization’s goals are and what the end results will look like. It’s beginning with the end in mind, so to speak.
Always take note that objectives have to follow the SMART format (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound). Set a final deadline on your implementation plan, determine your specific milestones from there, and define who is supposed to do and what should be delivered for each milestone.
Moreover, another must-have element in the plan is to determine who is supposed to do what. This step involves preselecting your implementation team. These will be the people who will help you set up the LMS, create a process, evaluate the initial roll-out, and launch your platform.
At the end of the day, your LMS implementation plan should include following: the overall implementation goal, a timeline of specific milestones leading toward the main objective, and the expected contribution of each member per milestone.
Step 2: Choose your Provider
It is always a given that vendors need to go through a stringent selection process to ensure that their solution is a fit for your organization’s needs. As the project manager though, you also need to consider another factor. Learning management system implementation will involve close collaboration with the provider.
And this collaboration goes beyond just LMS configuration and integration with your current systems and processes.
When choosing an LMS vendor, don’t only consider your organization’s learning needs and how the system fits those requirements. Also, do some research on how customer-friendly and reliable the vendor is.
It shouldn’t be that difficult – especially for providers that are well-known. Just a little search on your favorite search engine should give you some results on customer feedback.
Find other users who are using the provider’s services through other networks like discussion boards and social media. Send them a message, ask for some feedback regarding the vendor, and get some advice. This will prove to be a valuable step, especially when you are looking at a long-term contract between your company and the provider.
Take a little time and effort as early as now and save yourself tons of time, effort, disappointments, and frustrations in the future.
Step 3: Build Your Team
You can’t do it alone and you will need people to help you execute your learning management system implementation project plan. A project team includes experts from different backgrounds. This team is usually composed of the following people: team leaders, project managers, eLearning specialists, your in-house LMS administrators, IT administrators, and human resources personnel.
Do take note that everyone in the project team doesn’t have to be a member of your company. A team can be composed of in-house experts, consultants, and third-party vendors.
More importantly, when assembling your LMS implementation team, make sure that the expectations from each member are clear. Every team member should be entirely onboard on what the overall objectives are and their role in the entire project. To add, they should also know what each of their deliverables are and the expected date of completion for each.
As the person in charge of planning your company’s LMS implementation, you need to choose your members wisely. A huge part of the program’s success will depend on the implementation team.
Step 4: Train the Administrators
The LMS administrators in your organization are the people who would ensure that the system keeps running smoothly. They are the point of contact if ever users experience any issue while using the system. They will also be your LMS’ in-house experts; which means they would also train facilitators and sometimes users on how to use the system.
However, the most important role of the administrators – at least while you are still in the LMS implementation phase – is that they are the initiative’s champions in the company. With that in mind, administrators should be the ones who are knowledgeable about the system and know its ins and outs more than anyone else.
Step 5: Do a Pilot Launch
It makes perfect sense to do a pilot roll-out first. Just imagine the chaos that the entire training department, the administrators, and the implementation team has to handle when you roll out the initiative without doing a pilot run first.
Do a soft launch of your LMS implementation by having a single training class test it. It would always be better if the selected class has to go through the entire training process (a new hire training class, for example), so that you can get see how the LMS actually works in your company’s usual training scenarios.
Use the pilot run to check different features like course delivery, learner profiles, completion tracking, reports generation, etc.
Have the class facilitator or an administrator do a test run of the LMS systems training. Have the facilitator get feedback about how the learners find the system every time the class uses it. Also have the facilitator take down observation notes on how the users are using the system.
Better yet – find out when the class will be using the system and be present every time the learners use the platform. This will let you observe and take down notes yourself! Moreover, it would also be beneficial to employ learner (and facilitator) surveys regarding the usage of system.
Step 6: Get Feedback, Evaluate, and Refine the Process
Like any learning cycle, getting feedback and evaluating the pilot program is a crucial part of the implementation process. Not only does this phase give you valuable data on your learners, but it also gives you crucial insights on how the LMS platform can be of real value to your company through the learners.
Remember the notes that you and the facilitator took down on Step #5? These notes and observations will be very helpful in refining the LMS’ integration into your company’s training process. In addition, all the feedback from the users will be an important part of LMS implementation.
This feedback tells you what you need to work on, what part of your current process you can tweak to accommodate the LMS, and how ready your learners and facilitators are when it comes to an organization-wide roll-out.
Launch the LMS (Step 7)!
Congratulations! You are now ready to do an organization-wide launch of your LMS platform! LMS implementation doesn’t stop at the official platform launch, though. No matter how long it took for you and your project team to reach this point, this launch is merely the beginning.
The success of the initiative will now depend on how much value it brings to the learning of the entire organization. Also be mindful that there will still be a few more hiccups along the way; so, make sure that you and your team members are ready to handle those.
Most importantly, like in any other learning initiative, always adopt a continuous improvement mindset. There will always be something that you and your team can always improve in terms of processes and the integration of an LMS in your training program. Always remember to get feedback, analyze data, and continually improve the initiative.
There you go! We hope that these concise system implementation steps will be of much help to you and your organization as your LMS implementation guide.