Why Learning Management Systems Fail – Part 1 of 3

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Overview

Even though the learning management software (LMS) industry is relatively young, many corporate Learning and Development departments are already migrating to their second, third and even fourth system. That’s not a good sign. This dissatisfaction and subsequent desire to switch are often related less to the software proper but rather to poor implementation. Understanding the needs of your target audience – the learners, organizing training data to meet a company’s business needs and establishing governance around learning management processes are essential to sustaining long-term learning management solutions. Next to a company’s e-mail system and its intranet, an LMS often has the greatest scope of impact. Almost every employee touches the LMS at some point, making it critical that such a system deliver optimum results.

This is part one of three blog entried based on a US Business Review article with the same title and highlights common reasons that companies see their LMS implementation as failed and begin considering moving to a second- (or third-) generation system.

7 Reasons Implementations Fail

The success of an LMS is determined by how effectively it is used to support a comprehensive learning operating model. Organizations that have defined their learning operating model and the role the LMS plays within it are more likely to avoid the following mistakes.

Mistake Number 1 – Buying in a Vacuum

The most common reason why systems do not meet expectations is that they are selected without regard to the larger learning context and needs of the organization. The software may meet the needs of one site or function, but not other groups who may have different learning, management and reporting needs. Start by establishing a common philosophy of talent development, a corporate learning culture and comprehensive training model that subsumes everyone’s goals.

“A LMS is not equal to a training program,” says Ben Shanks, training manager for INVISTA, which administers training globally in multiple languages through a centralized LMS. “The LMS can provide a convenient medium for worldwide delivery and measurement of training, but it does not solve the problems of program structure and administration; development of content; risk mitigation in regard to regulations and compliance; or measures to ensure training is effective, relevant and timely.”

Mistake Number 2 – Buying the Wrong Product

When companies are dissatisfied with a system or are operating with multiple systems, it’s usually because the decision-making process did not involve all the necessary stakeholders. For example, IT groups frequently choose the LMS for its ability to fit into the corporate architecture rather than for its ability to meet the needs of training. It’s very tempting to make an executive decision in isolation when presented with attractive LMS features without consulting training professionals with diverse needs or asking the right questions. That’s why it’s important never to buy a system with a myopic, top-down viewpoint. It is critical to understand the expectations, goals and needs of training professionals at all level of the organization. The regulatory constraints for training management can vary widely from country-to-country and often from state or provent to state or provence within the same country.  It is critical to assess and understand these needs before moving to product selection.

“We took both a centralized and a site approach to defining their needs,” Shanks says. “From a global perspective, we evaluated our exposure to risk in the areas of commercial compliance and environmental, health and safety.”

 

To be continued…

Want to learn more, watch for parts 2 and 3 of this article and others on the VTA Blogs and check out the RISC Inc. site at https://risc-inc.com

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Duncan Welder IV
Mr. Welder holds a Master’s of Education from Texas A&M University in Educational Technology and has more than 15 years experience in implementation of Learning Management Systems, both domestically and abroad. Mr. Welder has been recognized for his application of Learning Management Systems to manage regulatory-compliance in industries ranging from petrochemicals to finance and has provided presentations to professional organizations including the Gulf Coast Process Technology Alliance, the Northwest Process Technology Alliance and the American Society of Training and Development.
Mr. Welder’s career is founded in traditional instructional design and computer-based training development. He is a certified Development Dimensions International facilitator, a Kirkpatrick Certified Evaluator and facilitator of the Ohio State University curriculum development program. In addition to working in industry, Mr. Welder has held adjunct faculty positions at Bowling Green State University, Ohio and the College of the Mainland, Texas. Mr. Welder has been published in both Training Magazine as well as US Business Review.
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