Identify Your LMS Requirements Easily Using this Powerful Visualization Tool

I’ve ranted repeatedly (here, here, and here) about the horribly-designed Request for Proposals (RFPs) that cross my desk. Invariably, these so-called learning management system selection tools suffer from one or more of the following design flaws:

  • They ask vendors to provide information they won’t ever disclose and/or is not relevant to the acquisition of a learning management system. Example:

“Describe in detail all of your company’s marketing activities including the percentage of leads generated by each.”

  • They ask for textual descriptions of features that really should be demonstrated. Example:

“Describe the steps required to create a certification-based course containing a video, a quiz, a presentation, and a final exam.” 

  • They contain a list of every possible LMS feature ever invented (of which the organizing acquiring the LMS will use a tiny fraction).
  • They fail to differentiate high priority `must-have’ features from low priority `nice-to-have’ features. I’m pretty certain that within every organization, the ability of the LMS to track whether a classroom has a projector isn’t as important whether the system can serve learning content on mobile devices such as iPads.

The smartest organizations I’ve worked with keep their requirement lists short and prioritize must-have features over nice-to-have functionalities. Prioritized lists of requirements help these organizations quickly weed out systems that don’t meet their needs, allowing them to spend their time doing a deeper dive into the systems that might be a good fit.

Here’s a fun tool you can use to quickly identify and prioritize your LMS requirements. Mind mapping tools are immensely effective ways to make sense of anything complex. Rather than attempting to describe what a mind map is, here’s a mind map that explains itself:

MindMapGuidlines.svg from Wikipedia

To help get your creative juices flowing, here’s a basic mind map that identifies and organizes some learning management system features. (Click the image to see a full-size version.)

Absorb LMS Mind Map

The tool I used to create the image above is Mindmeister. Lifehacker recently published an article listing others you might want to investigate. Happy mind mapping!