Data Cleanup in your LMS (Part 2)

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Is it time to Spring clean your LMS? (Part 2 of 2)

In our first post, we took a look at why LMS administrators might throw their hands up and want to scrap their LMS, when all it needs is a little ‘spring cleaning’ or data cleanup. In part 2, we review some points to remember when deciding to update or move to another LMS completely.

Spring cleaning?
Remember, the LMS was initially setup as an empty house.  You and your organization are the owners and the keepers of what is inside of the LMS. In most cases, it is not the LMS’ fault if the data is old, bad, or looking strange.  If these types of data are at the root of your LMS issues, a little spring cleaning will go a long way.

It may be hard work for a short period of time, but it tends to be low-cost with a high ROI.   With a little reorganization of your data you may be able to leverage the older LMS data in your updated environment, instead of obsoleting the data by putting it in the trash bin or leaving it the corner of the attic.  It may be worth the effort to make this data relevant and useful.

During spring cleaning some things will end up in the trash, and that’s okay.  I’m not advocating getting rid of your historical data, just organizational type data that is obsolete.  In order words, you probably don’t want to trash all of your papers from college.  But, if you decide to re-categorize the papers in your basement by subject instead of the year, it’s fine to get rid of the four boxes keeping the papers by year now that you have one bigger box with dividers by subject.

Remodel/Update?
Spring cleaning might not be enough to optimize your LMS and match it with your operating plan for the foreseeable future.  In this case, you might consider a remodeling project for your LMS.  First, spend a little time learning (or re-learning) about your LMS.  You might be surprised at what you learn.

  • Re-learn your LMS. Take a good look in the attic, closets and basement of your LMS so you are familiar with all its components. There’s a good chance you are not using all of the features of it.
  • Do you have the latest release of the LMS? Even if you do, check with your vendor to ensure you are aware of all of the features in the LMS.
  • What is the roadmap for the LMS? Learn what direction your LMS is going. Is the vendor willing to add your needs to its roadmap?

Imagine the latest release of your LMS without any data in it.  Then, look at all the data in your current LMS.  If you reorganized your LMS “belongings”, and did a super spring cleaning, would you move into it?  With remodeling you may get fresh paint, new carpet and appliances, and most likely a better fit for your current lifestyle.  You also get to keep your favorite couch, and the neighborhood to which you are accustom.

Move?
Of course, there are many good reasons to investigate replacing your LMS.  Some involve the cost to run and maintain it, the type of support you receive from the vendor and the features of the LMS itself.  Most LMS systems have a common set of core features.   In numerous cases, it is a small, but sometimes key, set of features that distinguishes one LMS from another.

Vendor support is a key to the success of an LMS.  If your LMS Vendor has a good track record with you, there’s no need to jump to another LMS because others are doing it.  A good relationship with a vendor can go a long way.  A bad relationship may introduce some pain into your LMS “house”.

Summary
I realize each learning organization has its own challenges and goals.  Keeping an LMS running and of value to the organization is not necessarily a small task.  A lot of time and effort went into implementing your LMS and maintaining it.  As part of your periodic LMS review, break the review of the data and the review of the application itself into two different pieces.  For the most part, you own the data and are responsible for it, not the vendor.  Cleaning and remodeling the data will be easier than moving.

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Vince Obrzut
Vince Obrzut is the vice-president and co-founder of RISC, Inc. He works closely with customers to find software solutions to training management problems. His responsibilities include customer support/satisfaction, product direction and new technologies. He received a Bachelor of Sciences degree in computer sciences and mathematics from Loyola University of Chicago in 1983. Upon graduation, Mr. Obrzut worked for Loyola as the Information Center Analyst responsible for integrating Personal Computers and Fourth-Generation languages into Loyola’s Medical Center. He has also worked as a systems consultant for a medium sized computer consulting company. His assignments included feasibility studies for new projects, database design, system implementation and project management.
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