According to the 2010 Brandon Hall research report on Learning Management Systems (LMS), over 65% of organisations now have a LMS in place, with many of them utilising more than one LMS. These systems are meant to digitalise administration, documentation, tracking, and reporting of training programs, classroom and online events, e-learning programs, and training content; basically make managing organisational learning easier. However, HR functions are finding fundamental challenges to these ERP based learning management systems:

  1. How to interface the system successfully with a number of other HR and corporate systems
  2. Reliance on one vendor to determine functionality and change
  3. How to be flexible and distinctive to accommodate changes to business processes and competition
  4. Ensuring that everyone complies with the system and conforms to their standards

Think of the possibilities, not to mention cost savings, of streamlining the approach to LMS’s. Why restrict yourself in the middle of a digital revolution? Maybe there is a more innovative way to enable learning and development. There is now the possibility of transforming the ubiquitous LMS into a modular, content rich and cutting edge cloud-based solution. This technological transformation also has the possibilities to incorporate the social media revolution, develop a more joined up talent management approach spanning the entire employee lifecycle and providing a richer and more bespoke experience for each and every employee – business to employee, rather than just business. Let’s further consider the case for a SaaS (software as a service) solution to meet these challenges and incorporate the new opportunities.

1. A cloud based solution is relatively easy to implement. The main decision rests on finding the right vendors; choosing those which reflects your company values and approach. Scoping out your requirements in advance will help to ensure that the system will easily integrate with other systems without the need for a huge amount of maintenance and re-programming.

2. I agree with Ray Fleming in his blog ‘do you really need a LMS?’ that most LMS’s are used mainly for basic features (document sharing, making announcements computer based training etc.). This could easily all be done using a web platform, SaaS and the Cloud. The focus needs to be on what learners actually need rather than providing a plethora of fixed possibilities. LMS cloud offerings are increasing all the time (for example Cornerstone OnDemand, CERTPOINT), the big difference being that learning activities are only accessed on demand. So why pay for more?

3. And considering that implementing a new LMS remains a priority for corporate learning in 2012 for many FTSE100 businesses, then planning for next generation learning and talent systems to align learning and talent and making more use of social tools should be high on the agenda. For anyone shopping for a new LMS, Nicole Fougere provides 10 must haves include some forward thinking ones amongst the typical (user friendly, intuitive, simple reporting, customisable). What stands out for me are:

a)      Integrated authoring tool building capability to allow quick fire content sending capability – vital for the new generation of social learner,

b)     A flexible system to allow imports of all shapes and sizes will be essential for new media formats and

c)     A customisable system to brand it to your business – this will increase uptake and pride.

4. Due to the nature of the Cloud, learners are put much more at the forefront. There is more emphasis on buying in what is required and therefore there is less of an issue about compliance from users and more on putting in place clear service level agreements with vendors so that service delivery standards are met. This is a fundamental shift in learning from the employer to the learner in driving the learning and development agenda.

The new generation of learning management systems is here and the simplest case for using a cloud-based solution is that it enables focus on driving productivity rather than wasting time on system maintenance. So it is now time to look to the cloud to encourage a modern and streamlined approach to deliver the learning needs of the business.