There are many aspects of a search for appropriate LMS Services. The first decision quickly splits into two paths, whether to invest in a hosted solution, i.e., Software as a Service, or SAAS, or to install an in-house LMS.
Of course there are pros and cons to both LMS solutions but for reasons to become obvious we will focus on the hosted version. However, before we get into those reasons, lets gain some perspective by looking at what is happening in the cloud, or hosting, industry.
Consider the following as blogged in September 2012 by Enid Burns for redOrbit.com
Worldwide spending on cloud services is set to take off. According to a report, Worldwide and Regional Public IT Cloud Services 2012-2016 Forecast released by IDC this week, cloud services will see as much as 41% growth over the next four years.Spending on IT cloud services worldwide will exceed 40 billion this year and will edge toward $100 billion by 2016. The report states that between 2012 and 2016, public IT cloud services will observe a compound annual growth rate of 26.4%. Thats five times the IT industry overall.
Most industry insiders of course thought this industry took off at least two years ago but no need to quibble over that. What is important is to appreciate a compound annual growth rate of five times the expected overall IT growth rate. This is a true game changer and downside risk is hard to find.
With the above in mind, here are the 6 best reasons to use a hosted LMS service.
- You dont have the resources to install and maintain your own LMS.
Installing an LMS is neither easy or inexpensive. If you dont have the budget, not just in dollars but in man-hours, it is really not a viable option. Then again if you have an IT department, in place, with talent and time capacity, ready, willing, and able to manage the hardware and software necessary for an installed LMS, a hosted LMS service may be for you. Hosted LMS services are set up by the provider and are, in all likelihood, customized at least a little for your organization. Both the software and the hardware are maintained and upgraded, as necessary, by the vendor, making this LMS service easy to implement.
- You want to be up and running as soon as possible.
Without doubt a hosted LMS service is the fastest way to get an elearning solution going. Typically time to implementation will vary from provider to provider, but generally speaking you can be ready to go in a matter of a few days at the most. (This includes loading of pertinent data, courses, historical training records, and any necessary configuration and/or customization of the LMS.) In contrast, installing a proprietary LMS on your own network can take weeks if not months.
- You goal is to offer anytime, anywhere training.
With a hosted LMS service, to access your training all one needs is an internet connection and a reasonably modern web browser. The provider of the LMS service is responsible for system security, so as long as you are confident in their security, you can can offer course access to people at whatever location they choose. In turn they can then take the course(s) whenever they choose, potentially giving them more hours to perform their job tasks while learning at their own pace.
- You dont want surprises that are hazardous to your budget.
The typical hosted LMS service provides for all upgrades in the subscription rate. This means that you are never charged for an incremental improvement in or a new release of the LMS software. You routinely receive the benefit of any new features at no extra charge. Budget planning could not be much simpler.
- You dont want to pay extra, ever, for customer service.
Another budget wrecker can be an LMS software vendor that charges incrementally for customer support. Most hosted LMS software vendors include at least some level of customer support in their license fees. This is both budget friendly and a must-have when something goes wrong. It may be something simple like a trainee cant see the course because of one or more missing plugins, or it may be something more complicated like uploading a SCORM course only to find it doesnt play back as it should. Questions like these should be answered quickly via customer support, whether that be from a live person, FAQs, social media or another source.
- Training is free in the short term, less expensive in the long run.
The typical LMS software vendor provides at least minimum levels of training for new clients. After all, they want the you to be happy with the system and you will not be if you and/or your staff are not adequately trained. On the other hand, the typical LMS software vendor simply cannot afford to, for instance, train all new users for free. They simply cannot afford to train users beyond the amount of dollars baked into their price, therefore it is only reasonable for them to protect themselves from a client that abuses their training staff. For that reason an initial contract normally delineates how many hours, how many days, how many people, at least some quantifiable limit if you will, before ad hoc charges are imposed. So, notwithstanding that at some point a client will probably have to pay for additional training, the fact is that the LMS provider has more people that have more knowledge about their LMS than most clients could ever afford in support of internal LMS services. Net net– even if you end up paying for some training down the road, the all-in cost of that training will almost assuredly be less expensive than if you were managing that internal LMS.