Here Data, Data, Data – LMS

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We all want to have the perfect LMS/LCMS when we purchase it and implement it into our workplace. So, we investigate, ask questions, perhaps do a RFP, ask more questions and then purchase.

We implement it and then the big UH OH comes out…my DATA..that wasn’t supposed to happen or why is this taking so long or I have to do this myself or what types of files, huh what are they talking about questions start to arise.  All of which could have been eradicated prior to you purchasing that LMS.

Questions to Ask your Would-Be LMS/LCMS vendor

  1. How does your system upload my employee data? Do I have to do it myself? Can you do it, if I send you the file – and if yes, does that cost more?
  2. What types of files does your system accept when I upload the data? Do you take .csv files (Which you ideally want)? What other formats?
  3. For the employee data, what fields do I need to have in order for the data to be uploaded correctly? i.e. First name, last name, is it employee ID # or a number you generate, address?, city, zip code?  Do you have to have the last name (first)?  They may say it depends on how you create your personal information or information you want to capture in the LMS.  Make sure you get clarity on this component, because it can create some real headaches, especially when the data is being compiled and sent to you via your IT/IS contact person or HR or a combo of the two – They WILL want to know WHAT data you want and need – so YOU will need to know as well.
  4. If I have a new employee, how do I add them? Can I just upload that data record – i.e. via .csv? Or do I have to enter it manually? (Trust me, you do not want to do the latter).
  5. If we decide to do just weekly full employee data uploads, will it wipe/replace the original data that exists in the system? Or will it only add the new information into the system and keep the other data in existence?   This is a good to know, because some IT/IS people like to send the whole thing over again with the new employees or those that are gone, and you really want to know how that works in your system, if you decide to go this route. Personally, I do not recommend a constant upload of full employee data – for the reason of potential wipe out.  What I do recommend though, is a weekly upload of new employees, rather than a daily upload.

Need To Know

  • You will manually need to delete employees who are no longer with the company. So you will need to create a process with your HR stakeholder on how you are going to get this information on a weekly basis/ and through your IS/IT stakeholder who is going to extract this information via a .csv file to send to you with your required information.
  • Make sure you create a process or a plan on how you will receive a weekly data file from your IS/IT stakeholder (and who they are). I say IS/IT, because typically the HR person inputs the employee data, it gets housed on a server, and your IS/IT person can extract the information you want for your file (be consistent though, or they will really hate you –hahah) and send it you via .csv.  Your HR stakeholder can provide you with the name of the new employees you will need IT to pull, hence you need both people, and of course, the ones who have left the company – for you to remove.
  • A .csv file is a Comma Delimited file. So you may see that term instead. A .csv file can be created, opened and saved in Excel or any open source spreadsheet program.
  • An upload of employee data records is/should be on one .csv file, regardless of the number of employees you have.  If you can upload the file yourself, the upload should not take that long (depends on your network speed – T1 or higher or lower) and the size of the file – obviously, the more employees you have the bigger the file, the bigger the bytes.
  • However, it shouldn’t take 15 minutes for any upload, let alone the first time you upload all the employees or only those employees who have seats.  If it takes that long – that sends a RED FLAG to me, because it tells me they have slow server speed – which you do not want.
  • So ask them, how long does it take to upload an employee data file – say with 5,000 employees on it with their info., into their system, using .csv format?  Have them give you a number a time or find out and call you back. You want quick but be realistic. Two seconds, is not realistic.  10 minutes – look elsewhere for a company, unless you have no issue with that.

If you have already Purchased a LMS/LCMS or are Looking to Leave and Go Elsewhere or Just Curious

The vendor’s favorite line – the “BIG BAD WOLF LINE” is if you leave our system and go to another system, your DATA may become “corrupt” or “not work” correctly.

My response: BOGUS!

Do not and I repeat do not let them scare you with this tactic, because it is a tactic. Trust me, if that was true, they wouldn’t be in business for long, since it would tell me they have some real server issues and technical issues on their end. Thus, why would you want to stay with them anyway?

Data Reality

  • They work with your new vendor to transfer the data
  • If your vendor is a turd frankly, they will become nasty and do nothing. You say okay, I want all my employee data in one file and all the courses they completed, incomplete, scores, whatever in another file, by their first and last name and whatever Id you used. Have them send them as comma delimited files (.csv).  They may say they can’t do it…I always respond back, “you mean you won’t?” If their system has reports that extract that data for you to generate number of courses taken/completed (for example), then they have the ability to pull that data. End of Story!
  • If you are not planning on having the same courses in your new vendor’s lms or are unsure, then just have your latest employee data extracted. Personally, I like having the courses they completed or incomplete just in case you decide to add those. Worse case, you can manually go in and identify the employee and select completed on the administration side.  If they can’t or more importantly won’t do the course completion data (and you want this info), go up the food chain. Someone will cave and give it to you.

One last word about DATA:

If you have to extract your data from your LMS/LCMS to generate a report because your system, currently does not provide that report; it may be time to look to a new vendor… Why?

Next week:  LMS Reports

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  1. Good article…
    Alot of HR people aren’t tech savvy, and sometimes IT just does not have the patience to work with other groups. If there’s a sandbox where they can upload sample data and extract reports prior to purchasing, it would probably save lots of headache. This article provides a good overview of questions to ask.

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