Here is some insight into the market (just a tad), some of which you may know, others which you may not.
- There are over 220 LMS/LCMS vendors
- A trend for some is to state that their solution is perfect for a specific market
- A few LMSs are now able to integrate with ADP and Taleo
The small dogs
- Many have excellent solutions and features that can match anyone and in some cases surpass the larger players
- There are those who provide the first year free of customer service/tech support
- Speed tends to be quicker – hearing from their customers and making improvements based on that feedback
- Customer service can be personalized and turnaround time is fast
- Cutting edge features such as being able to work on tablets, such as the Ipad is very new, but there are a couple who are doing it
- Many are less expensive, yet do not have less features – they see real value with emerging technology and social learning/social media
Can they be awful?
Yes, but so are some of the Big Dogs. Some of the smaller and heck even some mid size ones – front/admin end is lackluster and too basic. Always verify – do a background check of your vendor, regardless of the size. While it is unlikely that you will their total revenue, some due diligence on your part, is extremely important.
Love and Hate
There will always be people who love their systems and who hate their systems. Rarely, do you find some people who are in the middle.
Common Complaints on systems people do not like
- Not user friendly, not user intuitive – front end and especially on the admin side
- Very poor customer service and support
- System fails to work as it was promised to them
- Marketing pieces written under the guise of research
- You will never see a vendor provide a company who uses their solution who does not like
- Be aware that some companies in their case studies, may no longer be with the vendor. Does not always happen, but some vendors’ case studies are so old, that the vendor does not remove them
- You will never see a case study, whereas the customer lists or provides items that they do not like in the system
- You will be amazed on the number of vendors who will use their case study in the their own blog as a re-affirmation of their solution, while writing it in such a way, that it does not appear to be what a case study really is – a marketing tool
Other variables within the industry
- You would be surprised to see that many mid size to very large vendors, charge exuberant prices for seats. Audiences believe that it is acceptable and just go with it. You shouldn’t. Negotiation is extremely common, regardless of what the vendor states to you. You have the real power to walk away.
- 24/7 phone support and e-mail is becoming more common, however answering e-mails on the weekend – is not.
- Sadly, there are vendors who will send you the standard, “thank you for your e-mail, we will get back to you shortly or 24 hours” and then fail to do so. It is so bad, that many customers end up having to call their respective vendor.
- Many vendors do not support APIs (they should – a future emerging technology article, will tell you why!)
Recently, I had a conversation with a high level exec. at an ERP who offers a LMS. They stated that their ERP LMS was not user friendly, but rather was seen as an extension for folks who already have their ERP system in place.
While many people think that they need an ERP LMS with the same vendor, because they already have that ERP in place, it is no longer true.
A good portion of LMSs can integrate or interface with ERP solutions, such as SAP, Peoplesoft, Oracle and integrate with HRIS systems.
- Typically an add-on module – i.e. extra cost
- Always find out what smart phones they support. Never assume they support yours. A good vendor will have what is sort of called a “sniffer”, whereas the solution can identify whether it is a Blackberry or Iphone or whatever and automatically switch to the appropriate product.
- There are solutions in the assessment market that really look sharp on a mobile phone. One is Questionmark.
- Always check to see if whatever – courses or assessments data can go back into your LMS for tracking purposes and find out specifically, how that works.
This is an ever-changing and growing market. Always remember, to ask ..ask questions, do due diligence, because some times, what you pay for isn’t what you get.