How to choose the right Learning Management System, get the guide

There are so many options on the market and many of the Learning Management System available offer very similar features features and capabilities, however, they may differ in terms of pricing, customization options and user experience. It’s important to evaluate each platform carefully and choose the one that best fits your organization’s specific needs and requirements. Let’s take a look, first of all let’s look at what and LMS can do for your organisation.

Learning Management Systems – what are they?

A Learning Management System (LMS) is a software application or platform that delivers educational courses. When you purchase a Learning Management System you will be able to track and manage your courses, including paying, scheduling and managing all the content required for promoting the courses on the system. A Learning Management System can be used for internal or external courses by any organisation, small or enterprise level. Multiple features are available, here are some of the most common ones:

Course Management

Allows administrators to create, organise and manage courses

User Management

Allows users to create and manage course attendees and all other user profiles providing roles and administration access.

Content Delivery

Delivers learning content which can include multiple media formats including webinars, text, multimedia presentations and interactive and engagement tools like quizzes etc. The Learning Management System would also support issuing course certifications and any accredititations.

Tracking and Reporting

The Learning Management System will allow you to minotor and track user activities on the system. This will allow you to see how the learner is progressing, completion details and student assesments allowing you more control and the ability to optimise the course as and when needed.

Tech Stak Integration

Key to developing a successful Learning Management System will be to integrate with the existing and future tech stak that you have. This could be the CRM, HR Software or third party content providers.

Design and Branding

Full Offers customization options to match the platform’s look and feel with the organization’s branding.

Mobile Accessibility

Provides mobile-friendly access, allowing users to engage with learning content on various devices

What types of Learning Management Systems (LMS) are available?

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Software as a Service (SaaS) Learning Management Systems (LMS) offer a cloud-based solution for training and education. Hosted remotely, a SaaS Learning Management System eliminates the need for on-premise hardware, allowing easy access, scalability and efficient updates. There are several benefits to opting for a SaaS model – these include reducing upfront expenses, resource efficiencies as the SaaS model handles all the maintenance, software updates and security – this takes place all in the background so there is no need to have resources taking care of the maintenance. Together with an, often, increase in the overall system deployment, make the SaaS model a good option.

On Premise LMS

On-premise Learning Management Systems (LMS) are installed locally within an organization’s infrastructure rather than being hosted in the cloud. This model provides complete control over the system, data, and security, appealing to businesses with strict compliance requirements. While On-premise LMS offers customization and integration capabilities, it demands a significant upfront investment in hardware, software, and ongoing maintenance. Updates and scalability may require more time and resources. This approach suits organizations seeking a high degree of control over their LMS but requires robust IT support and infrastructure management for optimal performance and adaptation to changing educational needs.

Open Source LMS

Open-source Learning Management Systems (LMS) allow you to modify the platform source code making it easy to adapt and generally more cost effective – you will see examples of this from Moodle and Canvas which allow you to customise quite freely. Open Source encourages developers to collaborate and develop new and improved plugins and functionalities.

Custom-built LMS

Custom-built Learning Management Systems (LMS) are customised solutions designed to meet specific organizational requirements. These are bespoke systems developed to meet every requirement your organisation needs. Of course this option will seamlessly offer the exact fit for your organisation, however, it will have a much bigger price tag and organisations must be confident that their existing and future requirements will be met and budgets will meet the additional investment in time and resources required.

12 steps to consider when choosing a Learning Management System

Embarking on the journey of selecting a Learning Management System (LMS) can be both exciting and daunting. With the evolving landscape of education technology, making the right choice is crucial for seamless learning experiences. In this comprehensive guide, we unravel the 12 essential steps to consider when choosing an LMS. From assessing your organization’s unique needs to evaluating user-friendly interfaces, this roadmap will empower you to make informed decisions. Whether you’re a seasoned educator or a corporate training manager, these steps will illuminate the path to finding the ideal LMS that aligns with your goals and enhances the overall learning ecosystem. Let’s go through the key considerations:

1. Business needs and Goals

What does your business need in a Learning Management System – look across the whole organisation and clearly understand all business requirements. How will this system help you develop your organisation? Align these goals and requirements with the overall Strategic Roadmap of the company

2. User-Friendly Interface

As with all devices and platforms these days, you need to ensure it is 100% user friendly and that all relevant users can easily manage the system. This is a critical requirement for adoption of the system. This might mean that bespoke development is needed to meet your UX requirements and to ensure all your business needs are aligned with your branding. This will have financial and time implications which need to be considered.

3. Scalability

Going back to business needs and goals for your LMS – where does this LMS requirement sit in your overall business goals most importantly, what are the expectations for future growth in terms of users and content. Consider the scalability of the LMS to accommodate your current and future growth in terms of users and courses, content etc. 

4. Integration

Understanding your existing tech stack and any other future plans for platforms or systems e.g. CRM system, payment gateways – this is really important to avoid having to replace or update systems in the future and to avoid any major cost impact. Often forgotten are the IT details e.g. compatibility with devices and browsers, asking where will the Data be kept (if at all), GDPR implications, cookie requirements etc.

5. Content Management

As we have already mentioned the UX is key to the success of the system and this includes users being able to upload, organise and manage all their content. Course material, promotional material, pricing etc will all change on a regular basis and therefore needs to be easily managed by all users. The Media library needs to be able to supply documents, interactive materials, video and all forms of content required to run the courses and workshops.

6. Learning Formats

The world is now a hybrid market, however, you have to decide what your audience wants and how they prefer to take their learning experience. Being able to offer online, blended or in person learning will align with your HR and business operations. Will the learning management system only allow a certain type of learning experience for the user? If so, you need to determine what that will be – again remember to think how you can future proof requirements where possible. When you are preparing the requirements list you should consider how you will develop content that will engage the users on the LMS using interactive elements, certification rewards, assessments etc.

7. Tracking and Reporting

A key part of the success of a Learning Management system for the user and the business is to be able to track progress, evaluating content, assessing engagement rates etc… measuring key metrics and getting as much granular data as your business requires, will be a key factor in determining the system you choose. 

8. Compliance and Security

With the deluge of data being produced by organisations, there has never been a more important time that to ensure all compliance and security standards are fully in place and stringently tested on an ongoing basis. In fact, many organisations are using LMS to bring ongoing cybersecurity, GDPR and compliance training to their employees. All LMS must adhere to industry best practice when it comes to compliance and security levels.

9. Support and Training

After you have built out the user requirements, developed the system to meet your organisational needs, you will need to start onboarding users and training. Any valuable LMS vendor will have a Team ready to support and training your users. It’s worth thinking about if you need an ongoing SLA to cover customer support and training

Implementing a robust governance policy around users and administrators is key – who requires what access, what content and data should be available to different levels of administrators. Documenting the administration authority levels is important to effectively manage the system.

10. Cost and ROI

When you consider a LMS you are going to be making a considerable purchase, even if it’s out of the box, therefore it is really important to understand the full costs in involved not just for the initial purchase but also for the ongoing support, upgrades, licence fees, implementation costs and resources. 

Combine these consideration with the ongoing evaluation of the  Return on investment (ROI) and any KPI’s based on improved learning outcomes and employee performance.

11. User Feedback and Reviews

As with any system it is important to build in and ongoing review of the system to ensure it is continually meeting all user expectations and delivering to meet all organisation goals.

This can be achieved by building in a feedback flow from the users and/or asking them to rank the courses, feedback on content delivery etc. Managing and taking onboard all feedback will support the LMS investment.

Keeping an eye on the competition, trends in the market will also be key data that can be used to optimise the system. 

12. Upgrades and Maintenance

To avoid any surprised, you need to consider the frequency of how often the software for your LMS will be updated. Relate these updates to the SLA (Service Level Agreement) that you have with the vendor. Are there costs involved, down time required? What happens if you miss an update – will you require additional cover to mitigate any risks? What is the impact of the upgrade?

Diarise when these upgrades are required an ensure your vendor schedules these updates and find out how they manage these. 

Trial or Demo

Now that you have a robust list of business requirements for your LMS you are ready to review different product demos. From there you will be able to determine which products are the best fit for your business and you can request a trial of the product to get a better understanding of the products and features. Do research on the actual vendor – a good vendor will be willing to let you talk to their existing customers for references. Vendor reputation and ability to complete and deliver a project should be the key determining factor when you explore the LMS market with project delivery on time and within budget, meeting milestones – make a list of critical key factors that will help you make the best decision.

Learning Management Systems (5 examples)


Totara is an open-source Learning Experience Platform (LXP) that is designed for corporate learning and development. Here are four similar LXPs that offer similar features and capabilities. Highly flexible integrations and powerful apps.


Moodle is another open-source LXP that is similar to Totara. Both platforms are built on the same core architecture and offer a range of features, such as gamification, social learning, and mobile learning capabilities.


TalentLMS is a cloud-based LXP that offers a range of features, such as gamification, social learning, and customizable branding. It also offers integration with other HR software solutions and provides robust reporting and analytics capabilities.


LearnUpon is a cloud-based LXP that offers a range of features, such as gamification, mobile learning, and custom branding. It also offers integration with other HR software solutions and provides robust reporting and analytics capabilities.

Blackboard Learn

The biggest system out there is Blackboard Learn, a cloud-based LXP that offers a range of features, such as gamification, it also offers integration with other HR software solutions and provides robust reporting and analytics capabilities. Highly used in the educational arena.

Frequently asked questions

How can ensure my LMS is successful?

Review these areas and make sure they are all in place – this will go a long way to ensuring the successful implementation of the Learning Management System you choose:

  • Poor User Experience (UX) – if the user cannot understand how to use the system then they are not going to use it. Make sure you take the time for extensive User Testing both internally and externally.
  • Lack of Training and Support – allow plenty of onboaarding time to train users, test scenarious and ensure there is ongoing training and support as and when needed. 
  • Align Strategic goals – remember to understand and develop your LMS with the organisational roadmap – looking at now and into the future.
  • Content – lack of and quality of the content is essential, review the content your offering, is it relevant, do you have ROT (redundant, out of date or time sensitive content). 
  • Check the Tech Stak and enure it is fully integrated and the reporting and requirements are meeting the organisations technical systems.
  • Support- is the support responding to downtimes or issues with the system, reference the SLA and ensure all response times and fixes are completed on time and aligned with your systems.
  • Governance – post development, you will need a good implementation plan with good communications to all stakeholders. Don’t allow any stakeholders to say ‘they didnt know’.
  • Financials – make sure you have adequate budget and resources to cover eventualities – especially support post go-live, upgrades, customised requirements etc.

What does a Learning Management System cost?

The cost of a Learning Management System (LMS) varies based on the size and requirements for your business both now and into the future. Basic cloud based systems can start at a few thousand dollars per year whilst an enterprise level option could range from thousands per month. It is all dependent on the scope of requirements and if you prefer an ‘Out of the Box’ solution or a more customised solution.

How long does it take to develop a Learning Management System?

Developing a Learning Management System (LMS) depends on the scope of requirements and functionality required by the business. A basic LMS can take a few months, while a more advanced system could take up to six months to a year. Customisation has a big impact on development times, change requirements, integrating with existing systems and of course user testing are all areas that need to be agreed to ensure the delivery of the system is on time.

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