The right cloud LMS can help you move ILT online and develop team talents. However, you need to choose the best Learning Management System for your budget and business objectives. This guide walks you through all the essential steps, from setting an accurate budget to drafting winning RFPs. Selecting the ideal system shouldn’t be time consuming or costly, with these tips and vendor vetting techniques, you can find the ideal platform in your price range and launch a successful employee online training strategy.
What You’ll Find Inside This Guide…
1. 5 Cloud Learning Management System Misconceptions
Finding the best cloud LMS for your organization impacts every aspect of your business. Employees have access to JIT support and personalized paths based on their job roles, while your L&D team can identify pain points and continually improve your online training strategy. But how do you know which SaaS Learning Management System will deliver top value for money? The first step is overcoming preconceived notions about cloud-based LMS solutions.
Cloud Learning Management Systems offer fewer customization options than locally hosted systems, right? The truth is that many SaaS LMS solutions allow you to personalize the platform, from incorporating branding to creating individualized dashboards. That said, you should always ask vendors about their customization features in the RFP. For example, do they have customizable templates and mobile integration? Another place to verify customizability is an online directory. In fact, there’s a section dedicated to this function which ranges from forms to CRM integrations.
SMBs Don’t Need A Cloud LMS
Smaller businesses don’t need a cloud LMS because it’s out of their price range or they simply don’t have enough staff members. In reality, every organization can benefit from SaaS platforms, as many allow you to scale the system based on your needs and budget. For instance, you can select a higher pricing plan if you onboard more employees or if you need to unlock more advanced features. A cloud-based LMS is also ideal for SMBs because you can access a global talent pool. Due to the fact that these systems are available on the go and often feature multi-language support.
All Cloud-Based Solutions Are SaaS
While most cloud-based systems are based on a subscription model, some vendors opt for one-time licensing. As a matter of fact, certain companies even allow you to choose which pricing model you prefer. For instance, you can pay per user every month or go with a flat fee or even pay everything up front to avoid ongoing software costs. For this reason, it’s important to clarify the pricing terms with the vendor and develop an accurate budget.
Every Cloud LMS Is User-Friendly
While many cloud-based Learning Management Systems are intuitive, others may require a longer learning curve. It all depends on your team’s experience and the user interface. For example, your employees aren’t familiar with cloud LMS solutions and need more time to explore the features. This is why many organizations choose vendors that offer more advanced support and/or develop resources on their own, such as tutorials and demo videos to help their team set up and implement the platform.
Data Security Is A Drawback
Another common misconception about SaaS systems is that they feature fewer data security protocols than self-hosted solutions. In fact, many modern cloud-based systems have top-notch encryption and data security features, like certifications, advanced infrastructure design, and firewalls. This is essential since they host your information on their servers. You can also ask vendors about their internal security policies to ensure that your user info and content is backed-up and safe from online threats.
2. 8 Essential Cloud LMS Costs To Consider Before Vetting Vendors
The price tag isn’t everything, but cloud LMS costs are a crucial consideration. In fact, you should have a ballpark estimate of how much you can spend before reaching out to vendors. This allows you to narrow the options and set spending limits in the software RFP. Not to mention, avoid hidden fees that force you to secure more funding or push back your implementation timeline. So, which cloud-based LMS costs should you consider and how do you stick to your original budget?
Some LMS providers charge a one-time licensing fee instead of subscriptions. For instance, users pay XX amount up front to purchase the license or, at least, that version of the tool. In certain cases, vendors offer different packages based on number of users, support, etc. However, this is a less common approach for cloud-based systems since they’re usually based on SaaS model.
The most popular pricing model for cloud-based LMS solutions is monthly subscriptions. Organizations pay every month to “renew” their license and keep using the tool. Most vendors offer flexible pricing plans that allow you to scale up or down. For example, the first plan accommodates X users and includes these features, while the top level is ideal for larger organizations who need to train more employees or external partners. Some software providers post their prices on their website, but others require you to contact them for a free quote.
Setup And Customization
It takes time to set up and customize the new system. This involves payroll, which I’ll cover next, but you may have to purchase add-ons or integrations as well, not to mention, migrate your existing data to the platform and ensure it’s compatible with your current toolbox. Some of the most common integrations are sales and CRM-related, which allow you to manage team performance remotely, as well as boost sales and customer service stats. Another thing to consider is vendor support. Vendors might offer one-on-one assistance to streamline setup and help you avoid common mistakes.
Top SaaS LMS providers can help you clarify upfront or subscription costs, but calculating payroll is more involved. You need to consider all the tasks your team must perform to set up, implement, and maintain the tool over time. For instance, it takes a week for your implementation team to master the features and roll out the system. They also need to take care of internal marketing so that front-end users know what it’s all about. Once you identify tasks, it’s time to tally up the costs. How many employees are involved and what’s their pay rate?
There are several steps in the implementation process. However, the most time-consuming task is familiarizing users with the system. Employees need time to explore the tool and get a feel for the UI. For example, it might take them a week to learn how to access the JIT library or certification courses, especially if they’re new to the world of cloud-based Learning Management Systems. That said, one of the perks of using SaaS tools is that they’re intuitive and easier to roll out.
This is a cost that many organizations overlook when calculating the LMS budget. But you need to populate your new platform with content that’s engaging and relevant for your team. While some organizations choose to develop content in-house, others hire outsourcing partners that specialize in their industry. Whatever route you choose, you need to factor content creation into your LMS budget. This also applies to content curation. For example, you purchase off-the-shelf solutions or gather content from online sources.
There are two types of support to consider. The first is LMS support services provided by the vendor. Whether it’s phone, live chats, emails, or an online knowledge base, certain service providers include this in the price, but some charge extra. Secondly, you may need to develop support resources for your team if the vendor’s library is lacking. As an example, your team has to create tutorials or cheat sheets to help co-workers master the LMS fundamentals, like how to log in, access course catalogs, and customize their dashboards. Take a look at the service providers website to see which customer training resources are available. Do they have demo videos that highlight all the main features? Is there an active user community where you can find tips?
SaaS Learning Management Systems are known for being low-maintenance. However, there’s still some upkeep involved. For instance, you may have to download new versions of the tool or purchase additional integrations. It’s also essential to update con