The last five years or so have seen new learning management systems (LMSs) enter the market. In the increasingly dynamic landscape in which businesses operate, enabling an agile learning culture has become mainstream for business success. Thus, organizations have been on active lookout for best-in-class LMSs to meet their business needs. Although most LMSs come with a set of promises and almost all sound exceptional, what an organization can really reap from an LMS lies in its implementation. A product is great for the organization only when it aligns itself to its context. Our journey in implementing a cloud-based LMS recently led to some great learning. So, if you are planning an LMS implementation for a large global organization, here are the top 10 commandments to get you started.
1. Align with the organization's strategy: Any enterprise-wide change such as an LMS implementation is best executed when it aligns with the larger organizational strategy. At Genpact, organizational strategy is defined by what we internally call SynerG (our business transformation project) that aims to standardize and simply our internal processes. The need for a best-in-class LMS emerged as critical to meet the immediate needs of the business transformation journey.
2. Listen to the business need: To ensure the chosen LMS is most relevant to the organizational context, we focus on keeping all stakeholders involved in decision making. Understand the business need and identify an LMS that promises to meet those needs. LMSs are a dime a dozen in the market, and this can be confusing considering you are not making a small investment.
3. Create your business requirements document (BRD): This is the master book of requirements that will contain functional and business requirements, expectations from the end-user and the training administration team.
4. Prioritize your need. Identify what is business critical for you: Give weight to user experience (UX), system functionality (per business requirement), and ease of use (self-service) to identify what will be the critical criteria for selecting the tool.
5. Revisit the as-is process maps and the BRD: Throughout the project journey, revisit the process maps and functional requirements to ensure the LMS implementation is on track. Use them as guiding principles. Use this to prioritize requirements (evaluate what was needed now or later) and what functionalities are must have, good to have, and no need to have.
6. Evaluate the LMS for future integration: The beginning of the implementation is the right time to assess your shortlisted tools for compatibility with other tools used in the organization. For example, assess how easy or difficult it will be to integrate the new LMS with the performance tool in use or the skills training tool in use. Evaluate the scope of the existing integration (other tools and applications that need to connect to the LMS) to ensure zero business impact when the new LMS is integrated.
7. Check for content readiness: Especially when the legacy LMS has been in use for a long time, take a moment and spend time assessing the format, version, etc., of your existing online courses. Technology undergoes change much faster than behavioral training material, for example; thus, unless the technology is checked in time, the team may be in a bug surprise during implementation.
8. Take your time identifying the team: The first rule of an effective team is a solid partnership between the Technology (i.e., Information Technology, IT) and Learning (i.e., Training and Development) teams. Add to that, the chosen ones must be dedicated. This is critical for successful LMS implementation. For an enterprise-wide implementation, there has to be a hub-and-spoke relationship between the project core teams and single point of contact (SPOC) representation for all businesses globally.
9. Don't lose sight of branding and change management: A new LMS will require push for adoption (just like anything new does). So focus on branding. Make the new LMS aspirational and align it to what its users identify best with. Give the LMS an identity and talk about its personality and how it will change life for better for the end-user. Top that with a structured change management plan that will primarily focus on addressing three needs:
a) Drive communication during implementation phase to drive change.
b) Drive common message for enterprise-wide launch
c) Continue to drive user adoption post launch.
10. Have your post-implementation framework in place: The LMS implementation does not end at launch; instead, it is the beginning of the journey. The success of a new LMS depends on how much value the system continues to bring to end-users, and such value is reaped over time. So create the near-term adoption plan (spread over six to nine months post-launch) to stabilize and penetrate the LMS in all things critical and the long-term optimization plan (to be initiated nine months after the launch) to enhance the user experience and continue to leverage the LMS functionalities better.
The 10 points are a result of our experience with the enterprise launch of a new cloud-based LMS for our global audience. While these are suggested points to ponder, what will really work best is if you look at the implementation in the context of your business and the industry in which the business operates.