Since my Top 10 list of LMS vendors has been posted online, I have received quite a bit of e-mail wondering why the biggest names: Cornerstone On Demand, Saba, SumTotal and SuccessFactors are not on the list.

A LMS should first be a LMS

When I talk about a LMS, I am saying specifically a learning management system and the vendors themselves should see their own product first and foremost as a LMS, not as a TM/PM or whatever.  You can have TM features – regardless if it is an add-on or included (turn on/off), but it shouldn’t really be the core.

Best Selling doesn’t mean the Best

There is a wide assumption that if a product sells a lot it means that it is better than anyone else.  Yet if you look at the marketplace of any consumer product you will see that is not always the case.

The car company Honda is listed as a best seller. But can you tell me it is a better made product than BMW, which has less sales than Honda?

From a general product standpoint, go take a look at or Consumer Reports. You will always find products that are not well known yet receive rave reviews or “best buy”.

How many times do you go into your local supermarket and compare the generic version X to the brand name?  How many times do you go with the Brand name because of the name itself?   There are plenty of generic products that are equal or superior to the brand. 

You might be surprised at the number of generic products actually made by the same brand name – but white labeled.  Yet, for many of us, we still see generic as less superior to its brand name counterpart.

Branding and name recognition will boost sales – that is why marketing and advertising is so important in any industry. If your product is better known it is more likely to do well than if product X is not well known. 

Think about it.  Do you own a product that isn’t well known to your friends?  I know I do.  Heck, I bet you have products that you love and are not well known to the masses.

2012 Lists

In my final 2012 list, SuccessFactors actually appeared as number six, but I stated the following, “Their product is more geared towards a human capital management system, especially with the BizX Suite”…. “I want to be very clear on this – as a standalone LMS I would not go with them, but as a human capital management system (HCM), I would.”

The Latest

I viewed a SuccessFactors presentation – put on by the company to me and saw that they listed their platform as a human capital management system (it appeared on a slide). 

I have always seen then as talent/performance management platform which was becoming more of a HCM and this only re-confirmed it.  Plateau is long gone and buried and people should realize that.

SuccessFactors UI itself is slick and it offers a very nice extended enterprise (which is noted in my last blog post), but if I was to post a list of top ten LMS vendors they would not be there – reason? See above.


“While the pricing is outrageous and the Saba as a whole seems better suited as a HCM, their learning suite is a better alternative than those who want Cornerstone OnDemand.”  They were listed number 20 in 2012.


A few years back I had a call with Saba and in the call they told me that 63% of their customers were using their platform as a talent and performance management system and not as a LMS.  I recall that in the past year with them, the numbers of people who used them as a pure LMS were in the same range if not a bit lower.


I have some real concerns on what is taking place with Saba today. They are being sued by shareholders due to alleged financial irregularities and were delisted by NASDAQ – although they still appear in the pink sheets (OTC). 

Their own accounting firm,  Ernst & Young LLP, announced they would resign following the completion of the restatement by Saba.

If you go and review their net income for 2011 you will see they were negative seven million dollars. What about 2012 you say?

“On March 28, 2012 the company announced a delay in releasing its earnings for its fiscal third quarter 2012, “to allow the Company additional time to complete an internal review of the accounting treatment of certain international transactions.”” (Empowered News)

Granted this is not tied to the LMS per se, but still I would have serious reservations about buying their product.

Cornerstone On Demand

It is one of the worst UIs I have ever seen and I see them more as a HCM anyway.  But if you have any doubts on why they are not in my Top 20 read my product review.  Cornerstone On Demand Review


Oh where to begin. Another example of an over inflated platform (IMO) whose name recognition is what drives them to big numbers. 

Or better yet, let me provide you with some details

  • Service and support is lackluster
  • Back end UI is confusing and not user friendly
  • Look at their product lines:  SumTotal Talent (uh, Talent/PM), SumTotal Work (includes Payroll), SumTotal elixHR (HR), SumTotal Learn – okay, three are HR/OD related and one is pure learning. 
  • Their own mini description under their name in Google, “The only HR vendor to offer a complete portfolio which includes; talent, learning, workforce, payroll, analytics, mobile and social delivered via SaaS, on-premise..”  

For us training purists and I know there are plenty of us out there – HR is not the same as training and at many companies those who run training would fight tooth and nail to not be under HR.  Nothing against HR but it is not the same as a pure training/learning department.

Bottom Line

I can’t tell you the number of people who are always surprised at the number of LMS vendors in the marketplace – and this includes other LMS vendors. 

While these four win awards from some of the bigger names in the industry – it doesn’t mean they are the best, in everyone’s eyes.

Because frankly, they’re not.

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