Three reasons why buying a Learning Management System is always a bad idea

July 8, 2011 by Paul McElvaney

At Learning Pool, we’ve been involved in a few projects in recent months with prospective customers who wanted to buy ‘just a learning management system’.

As a small business, Learning Pool almost always responds to opportunities that meet our profile so we have stayed in the process with these organisations for a while.

Now that they’ve all completed I thought I would write about why I think that buying a learning management system is such as bad idea.

Here are the reasons:

  1. A learning management system is a bit like a plumbing system in your house – important, but not a good enough reason to move to a bad area, or buy a house that has a leaking roof.  In learning terms, buying a LMS is not going to give you a good experience or produce a successful outcome for your organisation on its own;
  2. Going to the market for just an LMS means that the price will pretty much always go up.  Many LMS providers see opportunity in traditional software terms: large up front chunk of cost with ongoing maintenance fees and extra if the customer needs any changes;
  3. You need to buy e-learning content anyway and if you’ve already got a platform you are immediately factoring in integration costs, set-up fees, additional costs and delays that you don’t need but will have to pay again and again.

Ultimately you need to buy a complete solution – the LMS is important, but it’s the content, the tools, the capability around authoring that will make your e-learning strategy succeed or fail so you need to think through all of these elements before talking to anyone about procurement.

Incidentally, the ‘score card’ for the recent projects we’ve been involved in is:

Customer realises that they are missing the content element of the project and so they’d have to re-procure 4 times (so far!)
Project stopped altogether at the last stage of procurement because the procurement didn’t match the requirement of the organisation 2 times
Learning Pool appointed as the preferred bidder only to be eliminated at the last stage of procurement 2 times
Learning Pool wins the procurement 1 time
Learning Pool withdrew because we realised the project would fail 1 time

As you can see, a lot of wasted time and money for everyone concerned.

We recently changed our product portfolio to include our DLE in our core service offerings.  We think this is better suited to what our customers need and you can see all the details of the four service levels we offer here.

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