Do You Need to Buy or Build Your LMS?

Do You Need to Buy or Build Your LMS?
Every organization these days needs an LMS. The question is should you buy an off-the shelf LMS or build one your own?
Do You Need to Build or Buy Your Learning Management System (LMS)?

Are you in the middle of deciding whether to build or buy your Learning Management System (LMS)? Here are some handy considerations to make this decision process easier.

Before we dive into the build or buy debate, it is important to understand why your organization might require a Learning Management System (LMS):

Reasons You May Need an LMS

Today, learning and development teams require new tools that will optimize and streamline their employee training process. From new hire training to training a distributed workforce, a common learning solution can help standardize the L & D process that can help save time, resources, and efforts.

Unless you are into the traditional manufacturing industry or are a top secret Government facility, chances are that your organization needs an LMS.

You Have a Distributed Workforce

If you are an organization heavily reliant on its logistics fleet, then you have a distributed workforce that requires standardized training. For e.g. an eCommerce company that owns the entire supply chain, warehousing and delivery

For uniform training, you need to ensure that a standardized learning content is available to all your entire workforce.. An efficient Learning Management System will be a repository for all your training content that trainers and trainees will be able to access in real-time.

You Belong to an Industry with a High-Attrition Rate

Contact centers, insurance and many other sectors require regular employee training but due to their high attrition rates, often end up spending a lot of time, effort, and resources

A flexible LMS allows trainers and L&D content creators to update content easily, keeping in mind the influx and exit of employees. However, the ILT approach (Instructor led training) can be converted to self-based learning that allows flexibility, a greater learning scope, trainee accountability and improves their performance.

In fact, the new learning material may also be used for re-training older employees to negate the chances of the Forgetting Curve from building up.

Do You Need to Build or Buy Your LMS?

Now that there are ample reasons for you to consider getting an LMS for your organization, let's explore the conditions that would determine where you need to build your LMS or buy it.

Customizability

Your LMS should be based on your company model and learning structure. The key to selecting the right solution is to understand the relevance and customizability.

Key factor to consider

  • The uniqueness of requirement.
  • The difficulty in terms of learning content creation.
  • Workforce quantity and quality

Explanation

How unique are your learning needs compared to others in your industry.

In case your organization's learning needs are extremely unique and would not be met by any off-the-shelf LMS, it makes sense to develop the LMS in-house. Do note however, that most LMS providers offer some amount of customization capabilities.

But in case you think your learning needs are not very different from other companies of your type, it would make sense to try out an off the shelf LMS first.

Time to deploy

Do you have new hires who require immediate hands-on training? Do you want your employees to hit the ground running? While it may be a tempting idea, the time factor must be considered. The question, how long should you wait for and how long will your LMS take to build the training infrastructure you seek.

Key factor to consider

  • For own LMS - overall time includes time to develop, test, configure and rollout
  • For off the shelf - overall time includes time to configure and rollout
  • Off the shelf LMS is normally simpler and easier to deploy

Explanation

This is an area where off the shelf LMS clearly wins. Typically it takes a few days or a couple of weeks to get running with an off-the-shelf LMS. Building your own LMS means factoring all the time it would take for the software project and then getting into the deployment phase.

Note that the readily available LMSs that have been deployed with multiple customers would have already faced and resolved many hurdles that come with live deployment. When you build your own LMS, you will have to spend time on resolving those problems.

Cost

Is budget a constraint? Will a popular LMS be better for your organization or are you more suited for a hand-crafted yet low-budget solution?

Key factor to consider

  • Consider the total Cost of Ownership.
  • Budget and schedule overruns are normal in software projects.
  • Off the shelf LMSs are available in a huge price range - from very inexpensive to very expensive.

Explanation

If you are inclined to build your own LMS, think of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). It is easy to miss out on the overall costs extended over the lifetime of the product. Do factor in the time of the L&D/training stakeholders who would be providing the requirements and reviewing the project. Also be aware that a large percentage of software projects overrun their budget and schedule (see here for some stats).

Note that LMSs are available in a wide price range based on the functionalities they offer. Modern LMSs are cloud based and the vendor companies have developed the software once to serve all their customers. It would not be easy to build an effective LMS cheaper than a comparable one in the market.

Technology Upgrades and Maintenance

Several product based companies undergo cyclic upgrades and almost weekly maintenance. Based on these continuous updates, your LMS might be different from what it was earlier. You need a learning management system that is agile and flexible enough to help you make frequent updates.

Key factor to consider

  • Is LMS software development in line with your main line of business?
  • Will you get sufficient tech team bandwidth in future for ensuring constant upgrades?

Explanation

As technology evolves, you need to continually upgrade the LMS. Also, as you learn from your deployment, you would have new feature requests. So your tech team bandwidth would be required well into the future.

For a cloud based LMS, not only are the technology updates taken care of, but the LMS provider also keeps improving the product as it is their key line of business.

Our Suggestion
Building or buying a Learning Management System (LMS) is always a debate many L&D and training leaders engage in.
Do trial out one or two LMSs that are relevant for your industry and build your own only if you think that an external LMS does not meet your needs (and an internal one would).

Looking for a Customized LMS?

Nittio Learn LMS deploys customization and gamification to enable your training team to deliver 4x times more training every month. Upskill and certify your frontline sales, technical, operations and logistics workforce on hard and soft skills without breaking a sweat.


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