Out with the old LMS in with the new

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You have had this relationship with a close colleague, someone who was there for you when you initially started to move forward, but over time you realized that your BFF is nothing more than a rogue in sheep’s clothing.  Time to find a new BFF LMS.

People tend to leave their current LMS for another LMS for the following reasons:

  • It’s capabilities and features are too limited to what we need to do
  • Customer service is still a new concept to them
  • We want to reduce our costs, and our current LMS is too expensive
  • I hate them and want out, there has to be someone better out there for me
  • The navigation and user friendliness they pitched, is erroneous at best
  • Too many headaches which I do not need
  • Too many features and/or capabilities then what we need

The reasons are clear, but now you need to decide on what to do – specifically

  • How do I exit?
  • When do I notify?
  • What is the method to find a new LMS?
  • What happens if I notify to leave and my current LMS comes back with new offerings?

Review Your Contract – Time to Exit

Hopefully you have in your contract an “out clause” which can be 30 or 60 days prior to renew, or some contracts have the “you can leave” at any point, if you give notice within 30 days.   If you have neither and are stuck in a contract that lasts more than 1 year, contact your vendor – your sales person to be exact and let them know that you want to leave your contract at the end of the year for that contract (i.e. the current year agreement you are in).  If your only option is the last one, wait until you have a new LMS in place.  On the other hand, for the other options listed above, start your engines and begin to look.

When do I start?

As soon as possible.  If it is December and your contract ends in May, you need to start looking immediately, because whatever your clause states, you have to have someone in place, with an agreement to start on X day – for a smooth transition.

I want to be clear on one key point – DO NOT NOTIFY your current LMS that you are looking at another or you are looking to leave. You only need to do so, when your exit clause says you have to give them notification.

Transition time in the cover of darkness –  Covert City!

You will need to have the following in place on “go live” day which can be as quick as the next day,  from departing your previous LMS:

  • Your data files – i.e. end users will need to be in the new LMS
  • If you are having the same courses in the new LMS as your current LMS, the data on a .csv file downloaded to you, for upload into the LMS, i.e. identifying what courses Bob has taken and completed, etc. – especially for compliance.
  • If you have proprietary courses already in place in your LMS,  those need to move over to your new one – the easiest way to do this – is hopefully before you uploaded it into your LMS, you have the exact copy someone on your servers or desktop or drive.
  • You can easily move it into the other LMS, by simply re-packaging it with its wrapper –  via your rapid e-learning tool solution.  OR if you have a course completely in Flash, then move the course into the new LMS, because you should have all the files needed for the course.
  • If you are unsure on how to do the above, contact your new vendor and explain to them that you need assistance on this, they will provide someone to you – via the phone of course, to help you.  However, it is rather simple to do once you do the first couple of ones.
  • If you have a proprietary course which was built within your LMS, using their content authoring tool – then you will need your current LMS project manager or whomever to assist you in having the course moved over to your new vendor.
  • A word of caution – DO NOT ASK THEM IMMEDIATELY, RATHER THREE WEEKS PRIOR post your “exit notification” clause, which you have notified your current LMS that you are bolting.
  • If you have off the shelf courses (3rd party from other vendors), contact those vendors and let them know you are switching to XYZ LMS on this date (the date you have signed to start your new LMS), and you need the courses uploaded into the LMS.  Give them the name of your vendor and the person they should contact – so that interoperability issues – can be taken care of, before you start with your new LMS.
  • Any materials – guides, reference, media files, etc. should be moved into your new LMS, prior to go live date.  Again, you should have these files someone on your servers, desktop, drives, whatever.  This will enable you to move them quickly into the new LMS
  • The look and feel of your new LMS to match the colors or logos or complete design you want on your log-in page, plus other pages within the new LMS
  • Time to test – Q/A your new LMS to make sure everything works.  This should be a minimum two weeks, prior to go live. In case there are any problems, they can get resolved before go live.  I prefer 3-4 weeks out, giving them enough time to make tweaks, solve issues, blah blah.
  • Re-test Q/A 5 days prior to go live, just to verify.   The worst thing you can do is wait until the last week to do your first Q/A, because if you have issues, they may not get resolved by the time you go live. Time can be your friend or your enemy.  You want your end users to experience no pain in the switch, otherwise you may lose them.

When do I notify?

  1. Within a few days prior to your notification – exit clause – you want to provide it to them in writing.  Email the notification – make it very clear and not something as simple as “I want out”.  State the day – which will be the end date of your contract, pre-renew that you are leaving. State what you need from them for the transition.
  2. Have them sign it, and scan and email it back to you or fax it back to you.  Example: Your notification clause to leave is 30 days out, notify your vendor that you will be exercising the clause.
  3. Wait until the exact date to notify them, that you will be exercising the clause.  Make sure you speak to an actual human being and not someone’s voice mail.
  4. Vendors can pull the ol – well you never told us – angle unless you speak to someone in person.  Always follow up with an e-mail to re-stating what you are doing, whom you notified/spoke to and the date.
  5. In Lotus Notes and Outlook you can track the email, to verify they opened it and it got there.  Better yet, there are programs out there that will hide the tracking, so the moment someone opens it you know. The plug-ins are available in every type of email program out there, including Outlook.  This is not a requirement of course, but some people like the option.

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