Why Learning Management Systems Fail – Part 2 of 3

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7 Reasons Implementations Fail Continued…

This is part two of three blog entries based on a US Business Review article with the same title highlighting common reasons that companies see their LMS implementation as failed.  Many begin considering moving to a second- (or third-) generation system within just a few years of implementation.  The first entry highlighted the common pitfalls of 1) Buying in a Vacuum and 2) Selecting the wrong product.  This entry explores the next three common mistakes when considering a Learning Management System; 1) Getting Burned with Customizations, 2) Bigger isn’t always Better and 3) Lack of Communication. 

Mistake Number 3 – Being Burned with Customizations

A common reason why companies operate with antiquated software is because they customized it so heavily after purchase that they removed themselves from the upgrade track.  An LMS should be highly configurable to meet the needs of different divisions, regulatory requirements, course media and company changes such as the acquisition or divestment of business lines.  That said, if a system requires heavy customization (as opposed to configuration) there may be a problem when trying to integrate with the next release or upgrade without reapplying all customizations or losing the customizations that make your system unique.

“We try to avoid customization whenever possible,” Ben Shanks says , “Until the need arises for us to utilize the (learning management) system, beyond it’s current capabilities, there is no need to add bells and whistles.”

Mistake Number 4 – Bigger is not always Better

In the absence of a decision matrix that prioritizes needs and defines the required system functionality, it is tempting to buy one of everything.

“Before you choose an LMS, identify your deal-breakers and must-haves,” Shanks Recommends.  “If you latch on to what looks like a great LMS without fully understanding what you need, you could end up with unnecessary functionality while missing some critical features.  Remember the old adage, ‘don’t go to the grocery store when you’re hungry.'”

Mistake Number 5 – Lack of Communication

It is crucial that employees know what is coming down the line and how expectations will change after the roll-out of your LMS.  Will supervisors be responsible for monitoring their employees’ training progress?  Will employees be expected to initiate participation in a course rather than being tapped on the shoulder as was done in the past?  Will employees be expected to train on-line during their regular work shifts rather than getting paid overtime each quarter for attending classroom training?  It is important to anticipate potential issues so that targeted communications can be issued to explain the reason for change, overcome objections and get the work force excited about the new system’s efficiencies.

“One measurement of success is what happens when the employees log into the system,” Shanks says. “If they don’t see their training plan and completion history in their native language, or if those items are inaccurate, they may not be able to use the system well which leads to frustration and inefficiencies.” 

To be continued…

Want to learn more, watch for part 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.