October 30, 2012
How One Organization Abandoned a Free Open Source Learning Management System and Saved a Pile of Cash
COLA is a physician-directed organization whose purpose is to promote excellence in laboratory medicine and patient care through a program of voluntary education, consultation, and certification. With approximately 7500 global customers, COLA is the world's largest laboratory accreditation organization. About seven years ago, COLA decided that deploying a learning management system (LMS) would provide the company with much needed flexibility with the delivery of their online learning programs, while simultaneously offering them increased efficiencies and cost savings. COLA decided that it could best achieve its goals by implementing a popular open-source LMS solution with the help of third-party consultants and developers. The belief was that a free LMS solution could be configured to meet all of their business requirements at a much lower cost than a commercial-off-the-shelf system, even when factoring in the consulting costs associated with having the system built to their specifications. Things didn`t work out as expected. The longer the free open source LMS was in place, the more money, time, and people were required to try and make the system run properly. At one point, COLA was spending an additional $500-$1,000 per week on LMS maintenance, and, that figure did not even include expenses related to internal staff time. The good news is that COLA's management didn't sit idly watching the bleeding. They abandoned the open source LMS, selected a system that better matched their requirements, and even won an industry Award for their learning initiative. Read what went wrong in their open source LMS implementation and how COLA turned a bad situation into an award-winning success story.