For most organizations, irrespective of their size, learning needs are continuously growing. In such a scenario, a robust Learning Management System (LMS) is an easy-sell! While that’s the easy part, implementing an LMS takes a lot of planning and careful execution.
Client needs and expectations out of an LMS are different as there are various factors involved in a successful implementation, such as usage scenario, user-base, integration needs, security & IT policies, and support requirements etc. We assemble some scenarios, the challenges we get to face and our solutions to them.
Implementation Across a Large User-Base:
- Larger organizations have a multitude of training and user management needs. It becomes very important to understand what an LMS can or can’t do. For example, many a times during implementation stage we get asked if LMS can also manage user’s HR dept. related data, such as leaves etc or if same can be shown via LMS itself. Now, LMS post integration with HRIS can for sure display this data, but that is generally not the intended purpose of this system. Thus, a buy-in regarding the scope and limitations of the LMS from all stakeholders is the best place to begin with.
- A review and analysis of the existing infrastructure along with organizations IT security policies is also important. A big organization typically has large set of IT systems, and an LMS has to interact with quite a few. During implementation one should carefully document how data would flow across applications, and what impact would IT security policies have on that data flow. For example, once we integrated LMS with client’s email server for the ‘auto-mail’ module. It worked fine during implementation and in UAT. However, few days after going live one day client suddenly raised a ticket that mails had stopped going out. On analysis, we figured out that the password for user with which auto-mail module was configured was auto-changed by HRIS due to client’s password security policy!
- Larger user base also means a varied user base. So testing in various test environments assumes special significance. Similarly, assessment of load and the performance of server infrastructure with different load structures are equally critical in such cases.
- The sheer quantity of data sometimes raises concerns on how it will be managed and preserved in case of a system breakdown. For managing higher user loads an optimized server cluster has to be designed so that it’s not only sufficient for current estimated load, but is scalable for future growth as well without having to duplicate the infrastructure. For critical data preservation, ‘Mirroring’ is often the solution, where server infrastructure is mirrored in different location and kept in sync with the master system. Here is one such network design which we created where user concurrency load was quite significant –
Implementation for Medium to Small User Base:
- Medium to small organizations often prefer the SaaS model, which takes care of budgetary concerns. There is no large investment to begin with, and monthly payments make more sense to smaller organizations.
- In such a scenario, even though the total user base may be relatively small, user concurrency may peak at different events, such as a timed assessment event. Thus, it’s important to understand what peak concurrent user load is expected in a SaaS implementation and design the server infrastructure to dynamically scale when peak load hits the system.
- Also, many of medium to small sized organizations may not have in-house IT teams. Therefore, LMS provider may not only have to manage server infrastructure as part of SaaS services, but also be required to manage the LMS system and user generated support tickets.
Besides the above discussed variables, other things that can impact LMS implementation process can be experience of client with elearning, and the usage scenario. Both are discussed below.
For First Time Users:
- Training for trainers, content authors, and administrators is generally offered by LMS providers when they implement the system. However, for an organization using LMS for the first time, a onetime training event may not suffice. They typically require an active hand-holding for a month or two.
- Support is critical element of LMS implementation of any size and for any kind of users. However, for first time users, it extends beyond supporting just the LMS, and also involves supporting the organization on coordinating with content providers to enable them to load content on LMS, helping organization create communication strategy to roll-out the LMS etc.
For Single-Use Clients:
- Many organizations take up an LMS to conduct a single event, such as a certification test across the nation, or compliance related training for a short duration. In such a scenario, it is necessary to empower the client for self-sufficiency.
- Since learners would generally log only once in the system in such a scenario, they are familiarized with the system by per-force showing them a small video clip (with an option to skip on re-login) on how to navigate through the system and complete the event.
- The LMS system is also stripped down of all the unwanted feature sets which are not required for the event. E.g., if objective is just to take a certification test, then all communication tools, skill gap management tools etc are removed to provide the easiest possible navigation structure to the learner.
As and when the scenario changes, a quick tweak in LMS implementation process can provide the best possible solution for the client. And with each passing day and experience, we hope to add to the list of scenarios, solutions and learning!