e-learning learning management system LMS

Top Ten Learning Management Systems – July Rankings

The latest top ten rankings for learning management systems. July edition.

Back for another installment of the rankings. Please be aware that the rankings are on-going and as such subject to change month by month.  The final rankings will be the top 25 LMSs of 2013, will be posted in December. Oh, here is my latest directory of LMSs.

#10Meridian – Despite a web site that should be kicked into outer space (hello, update?), the system itself has a lot to offer. I see it as a platform that could easily be for 1,500 and up users, although it may sit better at 5,000+.

The system has come a long way – and that is a good thing, with a nice UI and components including mobile learning. For retail shops I like the unique feature tied to OJT (on the job training). While I’m not a fan of OJT – from a training standpoint – I know plenty of people are – especially in retail and manufacturing.  As such, this feature is solid.

So, why aren’t they higher?

Pricing – it is not even in the moderate range (more like mid to high range) and the setup fees are outrageous.  Also, I still think it can be improved in numerous ways.  That said, it is back in the top ten, so Kudos.

#9 Administrate – I’ll be quite clear on this one. If you are not looking or focusing on the B2B channel, but rather seeking a system for your employees, then this is not a system for you to explore.

What makes them hit the top ten is that they are one of these LMSs that offers some very unique features. Granted, there are things I do not like about the system – that honestly create at times bewilderment, but nevertheless they still make me say “cool”.

Features include a built in CRM (customer relationship management), invoicing including bookkeeping such as journal entries, sales ledger and P&L,  event management, ability to export invoicing data to Quickbooks and a very nice user interface.

So, why aren’t they higher?

Part of my problem with them is their messaging. Some conversations I have with them includes pitching themselves as some type of business intelligence tool with learning, other times it is the opposite. Listen you are a LMS with sales features and if you are going to include BI then add it and make it more robust. I wish they included e-mail marketing (they do via MailChimp), and some other sales components to aid those folks who are seeking systems in this space.

Also they have no online/offline synchronization which is becoming important to those TPs focusing on B2B and even B2C channels.

#8 Growth Engineering – With gamification all the rage in the LMS space it is only natural that a pure gamification LMS hits the top ten rankings. Okay, let me clarify that – a LMS that features a super slick front end UI, nice feature sets and yeah that leaderboard thing everyone is craving.

Features that I like include that super hip user interface on the front side, the points angle, experts area, e-mail marketing within the system, competency components and video. 

So, why aren’t they higher?

Mobile is underwhelming and the administration side user interface is funky. Yeah it has a modern look to it, but it as though Jekyll and Hyde got together to decide on the user interface and Jekyll won the front side.  Still this is a very nice system and one that I had fun in playing around. Now if I had fun, just think what your learners will do?  Okay, I’ll leave that to your imagination.

#7 eLogic Learning – Still a top ten favorite which continues to improve. I nice system for the mid size market, 1,000 to 10,ooo users. Plays well in a variety of verticals including hospitality and retail. I love the multi-tenant (extended enterprise) functionality, SMS notification (text) as well as the standard e-mail notification. As many of you know that biggest issue we often face in training is the infamous, “I never got that e-mail”. Well, how about that text notification? Aha!

Toss in certificate, classroom management, improved user interface, Tin Can and online/offline synchronization for mobile and you have a winner.

So, why aren’t they higher?

Minor tweaks still needed. The user interface is good but I’d like to see better (then again, I think all systems should have a “WoW” UI and only a few do).  Also, while they have a very nice survey tool the system is missing an assessment tool (it is achieved via your authoring tool).  Regardless, this is a very good system.  Pricing is moderate depending on number of users.

#6 IMC-Clix –  Yes they slid down a bit, but this is still a top ten system.  The user interface is slick and feature wise the product has a lot to offer. I see them in the mid size market, 1,000-10,000 users, but again can easily go 10,000 and more users – so don’t let that be a deal breaker if you are checking them out.  Some features I like include mobile learning (on/off synch), compliance, incentive points, process management and collaboration.

Pricing is moderate to high depending on number of users.

So, why aren’t they higher?

A big irritant for me is the charging of extra for end users to use mobile devices. How a vendor of this size and quality can have this business approach in this day and age is beyond me. Seriously, beyond me and honestly it hurts them.

#5 Biz Library Company College – Another previous top ten ranking platform that “gets it”.  The user interface is quite nice – on the end user side, and I love the video blocks capability on the front end (they were the first to do this from a LMS side – to my knowledge).  Features that I love include the video component, i.e. video courses and not just sticking video into your course, learners can share and send courses, social, classroom management and mobile. Another big win – multi-tenant (extended enterprise).

They understand the value of selling to training providers and clients going B2B.  For employee size though I see them small to mid size.

Pricing is affordable to moderate (depending on number of users).

So, why aren’t they higher?

Admin side needs improvement, especially with reports. While the UI is very slick on the front end, it is not the case on the back end for administrators.  I’d also want to see online/offline synchronization which currently does not exist. 

#4 SuccessFactors Whoa, Whoa – did I just say SuccessFactors? Yes, yes I did.  If this was a list for human capital management systems, they would be clearly in the top two, but make no mistake they still see the huge value of selling the system as a LMS (not that others don’t).  The user interface is slick – way better than the days of Plateau – which some people still call it – uh, its not. This ranking is in reference to their business suite.

While I still have some concerns on the game plan of SAP with SuccessFactors in the long term, there is just no way not to include them in the top ten systems.  Features that I like beyond just the multi-tenant (extended enterprise) include mobile, e-commerce with pricing assistants, i-content and compliance.

The user interface is solid.  While they can pitch themselves anywhere they want with user size, I see them more in the 10,000 plus user category.

Pricing is high.

So, why aren’t they higher?

The user interface still needs work. It is way better than anything Plateau ever did, but for the amount of money the system costs and the fact SAP now owns them, there is no reason that the UI should look like it does. I also do not like the fact that for those folks who have any SAP modules and who have SuccessFactors cannot have an auto SSO at no charge, unless they have some component which most folks do not.

Otherwise they – SAP/SF can create the user interface – but guess what? Any vendor can do that.

#3 Docebo –  The system continues to improve and guess what – a new user interface is in the works that only makes it better. The system is perfect for those in the 1,000 and under crowd, especially in the 100-500 user space. Does that mean if you have more users than that – it is not ideal? Absolutely not. 

I also like that the system understands the value of having training providers (those who already have created courses and selling in the B2B and B2C channels) as customers. The solution can go either as simple or more robust (you decide).

If you want to push it to the next level then look at the premium which includes all the apps and a few other components.  Pricing is extremely affordable.  The system includes mobile, one click apps (everyone should have this), a course marketplace (including freebies), the one click approach (did I mention everyone should offer this?), as well as multi-tenant, multilingual, certificates, event management, personalization and Tin Can API.

So, why aren’t they higher?

A big reason is the lack of online/offline synchronization.  I’d also like to see some additional features – but hey, we can’t have everything can we?

#2 Instructure Canvas – Another top ten holdover. The system is for the education market – higher education first and foremost, although it is moving into the K-12 space.  Personally it is the best education LMS on the market.  Sorry Desire2Learn and Blackboard.

Features that set it apart include SMS notification (research has shown that college students prefer text messaging and use it more than e-mail), one click apps (look someone else is doing this – YEAH!), students can create and share their own content, etc., mobile, audio and video messaging, outcomes and download and upload zip files (again, you would think this would be standard – but it is not).

So, why aren’t they higher?

Listen it is the best education LMS on the market. They need to add some additional features to do that including ones more specific for K-12 (which is their market too). Also, no on/off synch – what’s up with that?

#1 ExpertusOne – There are over 570 systems in the LMS market and I will stand and out shout that this LMS IMO is the best in the space.  Now is it geared towards everyone? Absolutely not. While they can do well at 1,500 plus users, I see them more at 5,000+ users. Strong in multi-tenant (extended enterprise), as well as all verticals they can play and do play with the Big Dogs.

Pricing is upper moderate to high – depending on number of users.

The system has all the features you need or want (including those who seek TM/PM as a separate module).  Features that make me say “Yipee!!” include online/offline synchronization, leaderboards, social, integrated web conferencing tool (their own, but they also offer a 3rd party one), workflow engine, instant multilingual that goes across the entire system – some LMSs cannot achieve this, FDA validation (if you need that), slick user interface on both sides and e-commerce with lots of capabilities.

Oh, also native apps for iOs and Android for mobile.

As aforementioned in a previous post the system also lists the most popular training courses, highly rated training courses, new training courses, most active users on the home page. Again, should be standard in systems, because it adds value to the learners especially when deciding on what they should take. And for those who use leaderboards, having most active users just seems to make sense.

Couple of Notes:

Blackboard – No way they hit the top ten with their platform which is heavily synchronous based built. While that is common in education, it is slowly changing – at least in terms of LMSs focused on that market. My bigger issue with Blackboard is on their corporate side – yeah you have multi-tenant, but your platform is still synchronous – which is nearly non-existent in the corporate world. My advice? Create a new edition for corporate and change the UI.

Cornerstone OnDemand is coming out with a new user interface – I’ll be seeing it later this week – and it definitely – just in the small bits I saw – looks intriguing. My biggest issues with CoD in the past has been the UI and the over abundance of data on the back end for administrators – some times too much is not a good thing.  Also the system has IMO become more HCM – but as you can SF is here and they are also zinging more into a HCM.  Anyway, that aside, I am looking quite forward to the latest CoD incarnation. 

SumTotal is also coming out with a new UI for their learning side. I did see parts of it at ICE and what I saw was a major improvement in the past.

What is of interest are the number of vendors changing their UI to a more clean, crisp and modern look – finally! Now if we can just get everyone to do that – the world would be a safer place to live – no wait, I meant better place for e-learning.

E-Learning 24/7

15 comments

  1. Hmmm….I’d expect “rankings” to be based on global user data and statistics rather than one persons personal opinions. “Ranking – A position in a scale of achievement or status; a classification.”

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    1. The problem with going by stats is that doesn’t tell me really how good a system truly is – plus for systems that are starting out and more robust – should they be penalized as such? Just food for thought.

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  2. Hi Craig,
    It’s really nice to see the names on the list made it purely on merit – there’s no room for reputation – CSOD need to act quickly before becoming being left behind…

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    1. I agree on multiple fronts. Sadly some people believe that unless SumTotal et al are on the list then it is real. I say look 570 plus systems out there and as far as I know I am the only person who tracks all the systems and monitors them. So, while it is fine for other companies to have their own lists, this is how I see it.

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      1. Hi Craig, I am wondering why you believe Blackboard is a synchronous platform? In what capacity? We use Blackboard for on demand training and professional development in a fully asynchronous mode. Log on, get the training when you want. It is an invaluable professional development tool. The course needs to be developed properly, of course. I have seen models used in the business world that do not use sound pedagogy for training/educating and thus are ineffective. I equate poor course development to a school board (decision makers) making curriculum decisions yet have never taught in a classroom. It’s just bad practice.

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      2. Blackboard was built initially for the education market and that market is still its cornerstone. As such, in the education space, synchronous based is still widely used. The Blackboard platform is built in such a manner. In fact, it even is built on the corporate side. Can you create and use asynchronous based courses in it – absolutely, but it doesn’t change the way the platform was built or its intended usage – i.e. for the education market. At the end of the day regardless of the LMS you use, it comes down to how the course is built. If you create an interactive and engaging course, then any platform that houses it, will do the trick – at least from the end user perspective. So you can pay 150K for a LMS and have really static lousy courses on it OR create engaging courses.

        It comes down to the courses in all honesty – in terms of usage of your learners and the benefits that can be applied as such.

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  3. Define the criteria first, and then use that to classify. Numerically rank each item in the criteria and then add ’em up…a systematic approach.

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  4. Craig, has Pinpoint Global ever made your radar in terms of evaluating their system? I’ve only recently started to follow your weekly blog so may have missed

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  5. Craig,

    Thanks for sharing your opinions. You have taken the time to examine the tools and are sharing what you have found to the best of your ability – you are a doer, not a talker, like most of us.
    Appreciate it and wish you well. Most people want answers, not marketing hype about the systems – you know, the What’s In It For Me (WIIFM) syndrome.
    In other words, will it work for me and my business scenario? If not, I don’t have the time and luxury to spend pursuing it.
    Over the years, I have seen some of the bigger LMS’s being used in the corporate world and it is not pretty.
    Most of the time, the amount of time, energy, and resources needed to implement an LMS is grossly underestimated.
    And that is by the LMS supplier and the customer. Plus the deeper, more important questions of what do our learners really need is never asked or addressed because of the limitations of the systems.
    Your review is a breath of fresh air so-to-speak, for it’s honesty and willingness to look at real issues, not marketing speak.

    Thanks Again for sharing,

    Mark

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  6. Have you ever tried out Tracker.NET? We use it to deliver 250 multi-lesson courses to more than 15,000 employees and for its price, it is IMO the best bang for the buck for delivering and tracking SCORM 1.2 courseware.

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    1. The end user simply clicks the app and it automatically goes into the LMS. They no longer have to call the vendor to have them add the app. With Docebo, it goes a step further. The end user (client) can select a course from the course marketplace – one click -and it goes into their (client) system – eliminates the need to have them call the LMS vendor to add the course. Same approach applies if they purchase a course – one click and whalla into the LMS.

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