Perceptions and Factoids (LMS)

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If you have or are looking for an LMS, perhaps someone in your company or department has mentioned that this X vendor or Y vendor either isn’t known or they have never heard of them and thus it is better to go with a well-known vendor, because they must be better – I mean look at all the folks they have.

It is a common misconception and one that can have and often does have negative results.

Another zinger is the old some famous, everyone hates their LMS.  Yeah, yeah, I know. At a recent presentation, I gave more than 65% of the audience raised their hands when I asked who hated their LMS.

What does this really say?  Well, for one thing, the folks in the room were L&D, Training and HR people who are working behind the scenes. 

The people involved in the daily goals of building a top tier program.   They were also people running the departments, divisions, the whole whammy.

It might come off as an indicator that they need a new system, however, I’d argue that the reason you see the hands is because whoever made the final decision, selected the wrong system.

Afterwards, some mentioned the names to me and I wasn’t surprised, nor was I surprised to learn that the usual factors came into play, “the vendor is well-known”, “someone outside the department said we should go with one”, “our corporate office has X and told us we have to use it, even though we wanted a different one”, and so on.

Let me put together a nice little point of factoids for you, to calm down those fears and get people off this cycle of X is the one we go with because lots of people have it or it is well-known or some other gonzo garbage.

  • SuccessFactors LMS is horrible. Dated UI. Dated graphics and really just a yucky system.  If you still have the SAP system, I’m sorry to hear that. Truly, sorry.  Oh, and if you have SF because you are using it for HRIS or whatever and went with the learning component, to stay in alignment, you can switch to another LMS and still have it tied to your SF platform.
  • Cornerstone Learn – The LMS for CoD has improved, but is it something I would buy? Not really. The admin side is overwhelming. The UI on the front end needs to be across the board updated and it isn’t across the board. The system scores deals because it is well-known, people who see it, IMO necessarily haven’t looked at any system beyond the best known or someone outside the place says get it.

Sure, there are folks who fall in love with it – and again, good for you.  And before you go, well publication A or Analyst Z says it is the best – I say to you, what factors did they base that on?  What was their methodology? How many vendors did they consider?

If you want an HCM, than CoD is a definite player and one you should consider. Otherwise, look at the broader picture and tell Joe who works in another department, maybe IT, to focus on his own job and let you do yours.

  • Workday Learn –  What I saw was a beta and as of right now, the system is being viewed by early adopters (select customers of Workday).  The launch is targeted for September.  The Sales Director for the UK told a friend of mine that it is a video based system.

What I saw a combination of using video and some non-video stuff too.  But yes, the front end is being pitched as a “Netflix” like thing or “YouTube”, and I agree. Overall, the system looks solid, but I did see many weaknesses.

I would add that it definitely has a feel for the MediaCore VLP (Video Learning Platform) that Workday bought earlier this year.   I didn’t get to see the mobile piece, but I surmise it will be similar in many ways to MCs version which was always slick.

Who are they going to land quickly?  Current Workday users.  But for those folks who have an LMS they like and are concerned or are pitched that by using the same total system will work better that isn’t necessarily true.

Over a majority of systems in the market interface fine with, work will with the Workday solution.   Does everyone? No. And if yours does not, but you were promised it would, then again, I am sorry to say, you picked the wrong LMS.

I should note that I am a huge fan of Workday.  And always have been.

While I do not know who WD will focus on in the market, my belief is that it will be SuccessFactors (an easy win),  Cornerstone (mixed results), Oracle (victory!),  SAP (if they can’t win this one, they shouldn’t be in the game), SumTotal Learn (mixed results – and how important – unknown) and to a very lesser degree Saba.

The Low Price Scale Box

I’m sure you have seen it.  There are plenty of newcomers in the space doing it, and plenty who have been around who offer it.

It looks so tantalizing. So, yummy. And so cheap.  Guess what, though?  It is the infamous bundle price model, that has been around since the early days of the industry, just re-wrapped in a nice shiny coat or bow.

Some of the solutions that use this model start at a low number of users.  It is designed to focus first on small business or small organizations, in other words, low user bases.  Then it scales up.  In many cases, you see a box for “Call Us” or “Enterprise with Call Us”.

Additionally, you very well could see (not all do this, mind you) that you get some things at the lower price included in your LMS or if they pitch it learning platform, but if you want more items or more things, you pay more.

The solutions that go this route of bundling low user bases are using the numbers to their advantage.

Example:  for 500 users it is $1,500 a month.  Sounds like a sweet deal.  The number that is before that is 250 users for $1,000 a month.  Awesome.  But, what if I have 300 users?  Congrats, you pay for the 500 user bucket.  What if you never get to 500 for the year, and end up with 452 users?  Yeah, you pay for 500.

It is bundle pricing.  Using the example above, let’s say for 1,000 users it is $2,000 a month. Again, seems like a good deal. But if you end up on average with 800 you still pay $2,000 per month.

Now using my math skills which I admit, I hated Geometry (what is the reason this is offered?),  let’s calculate the cost per seat.  Remember the number angle.

At my 1,000 users for $2,000 a month, I’m really paying $20 a seat (which is high IMO for 1,000 users).  At my 800 the number is $25 a seat (egad!).   Oh, and the total cost per year is 24K.  Is it still a good deal?

For 500 users at $1,500 a month, congrats you are really paying $30 a seat.  That is high.  Ripoff city alert!  Yellow light special! 

At 300 users using my example: $50 a seat. 

Highway robbery never looked so good.  Where are the stagecoaches? I’m ready for my next job.

Another recent entry is the low cost per user, whereas you pay per user and there isn’t a bundle per say.  Again, it is all about the numbers and perceived value.  If I tell you that your cost is only going to be $4 per user, per year.  That sounds like the deal of the lifetime.

But, let’s say, 5,000 users, then the cost is 20K.  Still a good deal.  Which then leads to the “what’s the catch?” 

Maybe it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles you need.  Maybe the vendor is going blue ocean strategy, where the goal is to build mass at a low cost.  Get in the space, boost the numbers quickly, show folks how many people you have and then scale up from there.

Blue Ocean is used in the consumer marketplace all the time and is a very effective strategy.   But it can backfire.

Game based learning mobile style

I have an idea.  I have a mobile app and I want to put a game on it. It involves a base with a cannon firing at UFOs.  At the end of the game, you learn about some learning content. 

Not during the game, but afterwards.  If you are like me, you would think to yourself what is the point of having a learning game where the learning comes after the game?  And if you were like me, you might say, why have the game in the first place?

Then you might say to me, who in the heck offers this type of game first then learning second?  And I’d tell you plenty of people.  Including vendors.

What adds to this whole wacky scenario is that I have seen it more so online in someone one’s LMS.

Regardless if it is the vendor who devises this approach or the end user creating this type of “learning course”, the whole value of having it, is the same of having spitball fights during math class.

How should it work?

During the game, the learning is happening. Each time some action sequence is to occur, that sequence/challenge is a learning activity.

Complete it successfully and move on. Fail, well, either have it designed for another chance or require folks to start over/lose a chance (i.e. they have three chances, now two) OR whatever terminology or mechanism you choose to use.

The game should be engaging, interactive and by all means, fun.  It should look like something for that specific device.

Thus, you have a version for a smartphone and another for a tablet.   There is nothing worse than playing any type of game on a tablet, whereas the vendor has made it for a smartphone.  I’d rather have Emma throw my spitball back at me. Uh, hit Richard first.

Bottom Line

Where do you want to be next year?

Wishing that the price deal that seemed awesome was yours for the taking? Or realizing you were taken?

Wishing that you went with your research or wishing you didn’t listen to Crystal who works in operations who told you that system W was the best, because her best friend, Nina said it was so.

Wishing that the game you are playing had a series of learning activities tied into it, so you actually learned and still had fun?

Or wishing that you could smash that gopher several more times because when the game is all done, you get to read a paragraph of some info, you ignore and hit reset.

I mean it is gophers.

But it is not learning.

E-Learning 24/7















  1. Interesting article. It reminds me of something that happened to me last year….

    I use an extremely useful piece of software to manage my emails and to-do’s all in the same program. (The software is called IQTell if you’re interested!)

    Anyway.. the point is that last year I received an email telling me that this software was closing down due to a lack of funding. I was devastated and instantly regretted not choosing something like Outlook or Gmail that might have been missing some functionality, but that would never suddenly ‘disappear’ like this.

    I’ve experienced using smaller LMS vendors in the past, and whilst none have ever ‘gone under’, it is a consideration for a company looking to work with a platform delivered by a smaller vendor.

    Also things like bug fixes and feature updates can be a lot slower to come along with smaller dev teams.

    Just something to think about when advocating against the larger LMS vendors!

    (As luck would have it, IQTell received funding and I am still happily using the software!)

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