4 key questions when choosing a learning system
Over the years we’ve seen many guides and articles on steps to prevent buyer’s remorse towards enterprise learning systems. Whether LMS (think vendors like Cornerstone On Demand) or LXP (think Degreed). The questions we’ve found valuable go beyond features and offerings but more toward how a given vendor works with you. In our experience, and even more so today, these four questions set the stage before, during and after for any engagement with a learning system vendor to maximize your learning project’s success.
1) What are the top two current learning headaches in my organization which keep me up at night? Can my vendor easily solve them?
There are probably more than two! For example, your headache could be; “It takes too long and too many resources to use my current LMS/ LXP or learning system” or “We have an employee turnover problem, too many of them are saying they don’t feel engaged and a big factor to them leaving”. Limiting to two or three top pains makes it clearer to you and easier to see which vendors are really able to solve them.
When we say the vendor can “easily” solve your key headaches we mean there won’t be a consulting project proposal accompanying their quote to you. Solving your key problems should already be in their wheelhouse. Be sure to also ask them for references to clients like you where they’ve solved the same headaches.
2) Will my new learning system prevent the following discussion between two employees from happening?
Employee 1: “How do I do this —– task?”
Employee 2: “I learned from our learning system and my manager showed me how to do it this way…but I found a shorter way which I’ll show you….”
Regardless of the reasons you may have to get a learning system to meet compliance goals or drive engagement; the above dialogue should terrify you. It’s not bad enough “Employee 1” is asking his peer, “Employee 2” how to do a job and perhaps crucial to the company’s safety, industry compliance and credibility, “Employee 2” is going to perpetuate bad and incorrect advice on performing the job and because its shorter this “bad advice” will likely be spread to others.
Unfortunately, if its easier for “Employee 1” to ask “Employee 2” for the answer versus a compliant learning system, this type of interaction won’t stop. What really helps is having relevant micro content or a “one pager” which addresses these common issues. Most vendors offer this.
3) Do I or my team really want to use this on a daily basis?
In our experience, a big universal issue all learning professionals face is their own and especially the employees who will be using the learning system lack of time. Vendors like Docebo have cleverly utilized AI to automate and simplify common tasks administrators and LMS managers need to perform. They are definitely worth exploring for this reason. Regardless of vendor, newer learning solutions shouldn’t take any more time to use and administer than necessary. There is a learning curve when ramping up to go live but the ongoing rigor of maintaining and updating content and making sure the right people see the right content and achieve the desired learning outcomes should be as easy and fast as possible. For larger companies, deployments will unfortunately take months to years regardless of vendor.
In the past, verifying this was difficult since most trial solutions did not allow access to all features and could not easily be configured to how the system would behave when live. Today, many SAAS based systems let you try before you buy or encourage starting with a paid/ live system with only your group and let you scale as you like it to the whole company.
4) Which learning vendor according to their clients has the best support?
This is one of the most important question and goes beyond SLA or response time statements. Since after you’ve chosen the vendor, your entire line of communication, help requests, midnight messages to the support desk your customer success contact will do more to affect your learning project to either being a success or failure.
Finding the answer to this through client testimonials as well as current client references are the best ways.
The recent flurry of acquisitions complicates matters since for example you may have originally signed up with Saba which is now owned by Cornerstone on Demand. Pro tip: Always communicate with respect but with determination to your customer success / support contact, whoever that ends up being but convey big expectations for how they need to support you. Know who their boss is and don’t be afraid to reach out to them if you’re not getting the support/ hand holding you need. Being pro-active as to exactly what you want and the problem you are seeing or foresee goes a long way here. It’s amazing how effective this approach is to making sure you’re “the squeaky wheel that gets the grease” from your vendor.
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