With technology constantly evolving, there are more tools and programs that can help businesses with their daily tasks. One of these tools is a Learning Management System (LMS). An LMS has many benefits and could be a valuable asset to an organization.
However, not every LMS is created equal and some of them might not make sense for a small business. With so many different Learning Management Systems available, it is essential you pick the one that best fits your business needs. Here is everything you need to know about an LMS and the best ones for small businesses.
What Is an LMS?
A Learning Management System is a tool that helps organizations build training courses and provides access to these courses to the intended users — employees, partners or customers. A company can use an LMS for training its employees, onboarding new staff, training customers on new products or retaining knowledge for employees.
An LMS has two different interfaces — one for employees and one for administrators of the organization. The user interface is where learners — staff, business partners or customers — access all the courses and training information. On the other side, the admin interface is where a business can plan training modules, monitor learner progress and add more users.
Different Types of Learning Management Systems
A business LMS differs from an LMS used by educational institutes. The difference between the two is the features available and the maintenance of the system itself. A school’s LMS usually receives fewer updates and changes in features.
A business LMS on the other hand could receive frequent changes and updates that improve the experience for learners and admin users. These tools are also available as either cloud-based or self-hosted systems.
In a self-hosted system, the organization installs the LMS software directly on its hardware. This option is less popular but in some cases, specific industry legislation could prohibit businesses from using the alternative.
A cloud-based system is where the tool is accessed online. Most LMSs available are cloud-based and provide users with the option to access them from anywhere. This option is the obvious choice for most businesses.
The Criteria That Make an LMS Great For Small Businesses
While each LMS will have its own set of features, they need to meet specific criteria to make them usable for a small business. Here are four criteria this LMS list is based upon.
- The cost: Is it affordable? An LMS should be affordable for the business and not a financial burden. Many available systems charge per user, but there are some LMS platforms that charge a monthly fee regardless of the number of overall users.
- User-friendly: A system that is hard to understand or use will benefit no one and is counterproductive. The interface needs to be easy to understand and not confuse its users. Look for systems that provide a great experience while also presenting the training materials in a way that is fun and beneficial for the learners.
- Different learning groups: Different roles require different training materials. Ensure you can create groups for distinct employee roles. This will increase the user experience and allow staff only to learn what is necessary for their position.
- Integrations: When choosing an LMS, ensure it works with the software your business already uses. Consider making a list of the applications your business utilizes and when selecting an LMS ensure it has the necessary integrations you require. This will allow you to automate repetitive tasks and apply focus to other tasks that need your attention.
Benefits of Utilizing an LMS
A learning management system provides many benefits for employees and the business. In addition to all the other software a business utilizes, an effective LMS works with your business and its tools, not against them. Here are a few of the benefits:
- More time efficient: Traditional onsite training takes a lot of planning and time. With an LMS an employee can access the training courses whenever needed. One of the main advantages of an LMS is the learners can set their own learning pace that works best for them.
- Reduce costs: Onsite training is expensive with all the events needed — the presentations, conferences and training exercises. With an LMS all of this is taken care of for you.
- Easily change learning materials: After time things change and become outdated. Learners will no longer need to use books or videos — as learning materials — that have become irrelevant as time passes. With an LMS you can easily keep your courses up-to-date with new information.
- Improves the learning experience: With an LMS, everything is made easy for learners. All the information and learning materials are in one place which they can access whenever needed.
- Better management capabilities: Most LMS software allows businesses to automate repetitive tasks. Administrators can easily monitor when employees log onto the courses and track their progress. This helps managers efficiently support their employees, customers or business partners throughout the learning process.
- Access from anywhere: In addition to learning at their own pace, employees can also learn from anywhere. If they have free time on their morning commute, they can access the training courses or simply study in the comfort of their homes. In the past, remote employees still needed to come into the office to receive training, but with an LMS, remote employees can receive their training online.
The 3 Best LMS for Small Businesses
There are many different LMS software available, but not all of them make sense for medium-sized companies or businesses just starting out. Here are the three best LMS software for small business owners.
LearnUpon is a great cloud-based LMS that is suitable for small and large businesses. It offers many features and also has the option to create groups for different employee roles. LearnUpon also has e-commerce features and allows companies to sell their courses online.
- E-commerce features
- Ability to sell courses online
- Customizable options — create groups for different roles and employees
- Certification options available
- Engagement features — earning points and badges
- Many integrations available
- Mobile app
- Has features that can motivate users
- Create custom learning paths
- Well-designed interface
- Many customizable options available
- Often overwhelming for new users
- Offline learning is not available with the mobile app
- No authoring toolkit
- Can only make limited changes to published courses
TalentLMS has many features that make this an excellent choice for small businesses. They also have a store where you can purchase different courses — you need to upgrade your plan to unlock this feature. This LMS has a low learning curve and the interface supports over 30 languages.
- E-commerce features
- Different integrations available — Zapier, Salesforce and Zoom
- Engagement and gamifying features to motivate users
- Create courses with a drag-and-drop builder
- Custom reporting options
- Has a free plan available
- Has a mobile app — offline learning available
- Supports over 30 languages
- Engagement features
- Many integrations available
- Custom reporting
- Option to buy courses from the store
- Themes are basic
- Reports are limited
- Can’t export content to SCORM
- Customer support needs work
This LMS is straightforward to use and provides you with many customizable options. It provides a great user experience and has gamified features that encourage learners. It offers detailed reports to businesses and learners can learn offline thanks to the easy-to-use mobile app.
- Mobile app with offline learning
- Gamified features
- Advanced reporting
- Integrates with many core business software
- News feature available for employees
- 360-Degree Performance Appraisal module
- Has a 30-day free trial available
- It has a detailed authoring tool
- Provides technical support
- Interface is customizable
- Easy-to-use interface with a low learning curve
- Offers engagement features
- No e-commerce features available
- No xAPI, PENS and LTI support.
- Limit chat options — no discussion board
- Can’t sell courses
The Best LMS for Your Business
With so many learning systems available, it is essential you choose one that effectively aligns itself with your business needs. An LMS should integrate with your business and avoid creating new obstacles to overcome. Remember, the best LMS is the one that works for you, your employees and business.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.