For small and mid-sized businesses, maintaining a competitive advantage is crucial. Not only are smaller companies often working within tighter budgets and deadlines, but they are expected to keep pace with larger corporations as the business sphere quickly evolves. Because of this, small enterprises are increasingly utilizing a learning management system (LMS) as a valuable tool to improve internal knowledge management, bridge important skill gaps and drive operational efficiency.
What is an LMS and how is it used?
An LMS is a software application or web-based technology that is utilized for planning, implementing and evaluating a specific learning process. The use of these systems is anticipated to see major advancements, as Fortune Business Insights reports the LMS market size was valued at $13.38 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow to $44.49 billion by 2028. As the application of LMS grows across businesses, it’s essential for organizations to understand how this web-based technology is generally used and the host of benefits it can provide.
For a small and midsize business considering an LMS, the most valuable uses include:
- Employee training and development
- Employee onboarding
- Employee retention
- Overall knowledge management
Knowledge management refers to the gathering, organizing, sharing and analyzing of an organization’s information, generally in terms of resources, documents and people skills. This is highly important to ensure all employees are able to access organizational information, as well as remain on the same page while the business scales.
retention rates rise 30 to 50% for companies with strong learning cultures.
Moreover, the opportunity to optimize the onboarding, training and learning process is invaluable for a small business. According to Lorman Education Services, a leading provider of online training and continuing education, retention rates rise 30 to 50% for companies with strong learning cultures. Similarly, Tech Jury reports an excellent onboarding process increases retention by 52% in new hires.
The most common types of learning management systems
There are a variety of learning management systems available to businesses, but the most effective option depends on the needs of each individual organization.
Types of LMS deployment
- Cloud-based: A cloud-based deployment is generally the most popular option for businesses, as the software is hosted on the cloud and usually follows a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model.
- On-premise: This solution puts organizations in charge of implementing the LMS on their own servers. Generally, an on-premise deployment will require management by in-house information technology (IT) staff.
- Desktop application: In this case, the LMS is installed on a desktop. This may allow for greater control of access, but limits users’ ability to complete training on the go.
- Mobile application: For learning needs on the go, many LMS providers offer a mobile learning app. Training content can be accessed and completed wherever, whenever.
Key considerations of a successful LMS
An effective LMS leads to staggering results. Finances Online reports these systems of learning innovation delivered a 9% improvement in organizational growth, transformation, profit and productivity, while eLearning Industry found 72% of these organizations believe it puts them at a competitive advantage.
When evaluating an LMS for small and mid-sized organizations, here are the foundational elements of a successful system:
Simplicity and security of deployment
It’s generally best if the solution doesn’t require technical skills to employ, that way the IT department doesn’t need to be involved throughout the process. Ensure your LMS is hosted in a secure and stable environment. This is essential to keep internal knowledge and data safe — and so users and administrators don’t experience regular outages.
Having access to a talented and knowledgeable support team from pre-implementation to post-implementation is a crucial aspect of a successful LMS and your ability to see a return on your investment. Pay attention to the kinds of support offered (self-help only or access to a live person) and the ways you’re able to interact with the support team (email, chat, phone, etc.).
Quality of interface design
As the number of learning management systems increases, the quality of interface design is becoming an extremely critical differentiation factor. This includes the desire for simplicity, clarity, consistency and efficiency — while maintaining its visual appeal. Today’s workforce values a solution that not only looks high caliber but reflects the quality of the company as well.
Ease of use and accessibility
The objective of employing an LMS is to reduce organizational efforts around learning and reporting, which means choosing an intuitive and easily operated software is a decisive factor in simplifying and optimizing the process. Additionally, having access to your organization’s LMS on a variety of devices — including phones, tablets, PCs and Macs — is vital to support learning outside of the office and on the go.
Automation is especially important for small to mid-sized businesses. Minimizing the need for human effort while simultaneously reducing time and costs associated with corporate learning allows administrators to focus on other high-impact initiatives. These capabilities are also beneficial for automating the enrollment of learners into any required training programs or learning paths, as well as simplifying the tracking and reporting process.
An effective LMS will also provide valuable reporting — so you can monitor all aspects of the learning process. This reporting represents a system of data collection and analysis in your LMS solution. By providing important insights into the process, it’s easy to keep track of training and development, as well as understand what steps need to be taken to improve results. Opportunities that efficient reporting provides include content evaluation, progress tracking, output insights and issue identification.
Scalability refers to the ability of an organization, system or model to adapt and perform well during the expansion of workload or scope. For small to midsize businesses, the significance of scalability shouldn’t be underestimated. An LMS with these capabilities is able to take on more users, more content and more requests while maintaining its efficiency. Choosing an LMS that grows with the company as it scales is vital, so there’s no need to switch vendors from a system that can’t keep up as your business expands.
The benefits of utilizing an LMS for small businesses
While learning management systems were originally exclusive to large enterprises, the SaaS model has allowed organizations of all sizes to quickly and easily implement a learning platform. Now that smaller businesses are progressively taking advantage of this software, they’re reaping its diverse benefits which include:
- Improving organizational scalability
- Saving time and money with automation
- Interweaving the organization’s existing training content with the LMS software
- Easily utilizing turnkey content options
- Accurately tracking and measuring use and effectiveness throughout the process
- Extending training to customers or partner organizations
- Fostering an engaging information hub
As learning management systems continue to see growth in the business sphere, small to midsize businesses can utilize an LMS — like Absorb LMS — to improve and manage their internal learning and operational efficiency as the organization grows. Finding an LMS that takes the manual work out of your training initiatives is pivotal for structural improvements and organizational progress.