Why Learning Management Systems Fail – Part 3 of 3

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7 Reasons Implementations Fail Continued…

This is part three 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.  The first two entries highlighted the common pitfalls of 1) Buying in a Vacuum, 2) Selecting the wrong product, 3) Getting Burned with Customizations, 4) Bigger isn’t always Better and 5) Lack of Communication.

This entry explores the final two common mistakes when considering a Learning Management System; 6) Rushing the Decision and 7) Not Looking Ahead. 

Mistake Number 6 – Rushing the Implementation

One of the considerations in implementing a complex system is whether it should be rolled out all at once or in phases. A phased approach allows people easy access to a relatively simple system so they can develop maturity, gain confidence and have early successes before they are thrown into a cockpit of complex functionality and expected to fly. Large organizations in particular benefit from carefully considering a limited roll-out so they can learn from mistakes and adopt best practices before they take the plunge.

Other considerations are whether to migrate existing training history to the new system and whether to tie the LMS into HR information systems. Organizations that don’t give careful thought to such matters will waste money as they stumble through the roll-out. If they also forget to communicate and market the system internally, the implementation will stall and the system may never be completely deployed.

“Have a realistic view of the time-line, goals and resources needed for implementation,”  Ben Shanks advises.  “Communicate clearly to get buy-in from company and site leadership.  Before we implemented a global LMS, many of our sites had their own systems an their own way of managing and tracking training.  We had to gain buy-in for a centralized approach by communicating the cost savings and efficiency advantages.  Now, after some initial growing pains, people can see that the centralized LMS had much greater functionality and helps business and site leadership share knowledge and learn from each other.”

Mistake Number 7 – Not Looking Ahead

Even companies that do a good job identifying their current training needs and selecting system features accordingly sometimes forget to look a year or two down the road at prospective enterprise initiatives. Make sure the system is configurable, flexible and scalable.

An LMS is more than just software. As a tool for an overall learning infrastructure, it is an enterprise-wide system integrated with the organization’s daily processes and procedures. For this reason, it’s important to select a vendor that is a good fit for the corporate culture and to forge a strong partnership so that the system will be sustainable for the long term. 

Conclusion – Taking Control

No software—learning management or otherwise—is a silver bullet for existing problems. What learning management software can do, however, is support other training processes provided they are well defined. It can make operations within a total learning operating model more efficient and contribute to the evolution of the training function.

As part of a comprehensive learning philosophy, the LMS is an effective tool if developed out of an accurate understanding of your training needs. Take the time up front to define goals, create and communicate plans and develop governance. Additionally, market the system as a benefit to employees and help them see the value of taking control of their own learning. 

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.
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