If you’re in the market for an LMS, you’re probably waist deep in the search process and dreaming of the light at the end of the tunnel. There are many important factors to consider when narrowing down the list of hundreds of vendors to your top three or four possible solutions. Certainly, you need the features and functionality your learners expect, and you need the administrative features and functionality that align with your existing technology and learning program. It’s a daunting process, but as you wrap up the planning and procurement process, don’t forget to consider what happens after the purchase. That’s the critical support component.
Often when choosing an LMS, many buyers are not asking critically important, detailed questions that can make or break an LMS implementation. And if they do ask tough questions, the questions don’t dig deep enough and may not reveal major gaps in the LMS functionality, support, and team/company strength.
It’s important to ask questions that matter most to your eLearning success. Nothing – not sparkling demos, a fancy web site, or sales incentives – is as important as finding a strong, growing, dedicated LMS vendor with a customer-focused culture. It’s so easy to ‘talk the talk’ – make your eLearning vendor ‘walk the walk’ with you.
Beyond basic LMS functionality, which so many vendors cover nicely, here are three questions for starting the discussion.
If a vendor doesn’t automatically offer information about their support services, that’s a red flag. There are companies that only offer limited support. For example, assistance may only be available online, or by emailing a support ticket. Or, they may have a small support team – imagine one technician dealing with hundreds of clients and their users on a daily basis. Consider how having limited support will affect your paying learners if something goes wrong. It could be detrimental to the entire learning program.
An eLearning company should have three support roles, with multiple professionals in each.
Consider where each eLearning company’s support team is located and why U.S.-based is important. It’s critical that the support technicians speak English very well and that they provide support during the hours you need it. You also need them to support the end-users of the LMS – the learners – not just the administrators. Lastly, it’s always a good thing to support professional U.S. jobs and having a US-based team shows that dedication from the LMS vendor.
You wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive, right? So, test drive the support process. Ask to speak with the support team, and ask them a few questions about their experience, best practices, and how they might work with you to support your key objectives. Carefully review the online and written materials the vendor offers that describe how support works, timeframe expectations, and requirements on your end for a successful launch. Ensure these materials are easy to follow and will be helpful when you need them.
Ask a few of the people who will be LMS administrators to review the support process with you, since they will be the ones using the system.
Support is one of those things that can be hard to nail down. Take your time, ask a few extra questions, and make sure you get good answers. That communication process will tell you a lot about the eLearning vendor that goes beyond LMS features & functions. You’ll also want to consider what type of end user support eLearning companies provide (if any!). Stay tuned for our next blog post about what to look for and questions to ask when it comes to end user support.
Lance A. Simon, CVEP is Sr. Director of Business Development for Blue Sky eLearn. You can book a free strategy consultation with him here.