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By: Paul Davis on April 4th, 2018

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How to Choose the Best Learning Management System

Now that you have decided a Learning Management System (LMS) is right for your organization, the next step is to select the right LMS. I won’t be covering the entire project lifecycle from strategy alignment, budgeting, resource allocation, requirements gathering, etc., and instead, want to boil down some of the main features and functionality that Helios’ clients are often interested in when reviewing LMS options on the market. This same review can also be used if you have a current LMS that isn’t meeting your needs.  In addition, I’ll be listing some of the most popular LMS options on the market at the end of this article.

What’s Important to Look for When Shopping for an LMS?

When shopping for a car it’s pretty easy to make decisions regarding relative worth of different features based on how and where you drive. The same general concept applies when shopping for a Learning Management System; if you know how you want to use the system, you can make informed decisions about what features would be valuable. If this is the first time that you’re behind the wheel regarding an LMS purchase, then consider this article an initial test drive that will set you on a path towards making an informed LMS purchase decision.

I’ve created a list of features and functionality that between our clients’ feedback and HR best practices, provides a starting point from which to start comparing LMS systems. This is not an exhaustive list of every LMS feature (this would be derived via your requirements gathering portion of the project).

LMS Course Library Options

Course library size matters insomuch as the course library comprehensively covers the content that you value. If there are certain areas of focus that are ‘must haves’, do not assume all LMS libraries contain relevant and quality material. To address this, ask vendors for a guided tour of the library so you can see first-hand whether the library covers what you’ll need it to.  Consider if micro-learning (short, targetted training) vs. traditional one-hour training per topic best aligns with your training objectives.

Take special note of the search feature, as courses are only useful if employees can quickly find them.

User Management

We have found that Helios HR’s LMS clients almost always find great value in being able to place individual users into user groups. These groups could be by business unit, job type, or any other group to which a company would want to target specific training.

How easy it is to set up these groups, and the degree to which those who are managing those groups are able to do so effectively can make or break whether an LMS is going to provide acceptable value to your company.

In addition, being able to create custom communications out of the LMS system to these specific groups are very helpful when sending notices, reminders, due dates, etc.

Career Path Management

The degree to which an LMS concurrently allows for employee-self directed development and management directed training is important to fulfilling employee development goals, as well as organizational-level ones.

Mobile Accessibility

The move to mobile-supported LMS options is part of a larger trend within HR and workplaces in general. Mobile accessibility on an LMS for employees is clearly a plus, as it removes a potential barrier to accessing the training (i.e. the employee is not in front of a computer or has trouble accessing training content from secure worksites).

Industry Considerations

If your organization is part of an industry that has training-related requirements and/or industry-specific considerations that you think are important, you should factor that into your LMS decision. For example, if you have staff with security clearances, do you require all staff to take recurring security training that deals with what to do if they encounter classified material?

Post-Training Assessment & Certification

If it is important to you that staff demonstrate retention of what they learned via LMS trainings, then having a LMS that can integrate post-training assessments removes the need for an ‘out of system’ testing and tracking mechanism.  Some companies also prefer the ability to present employees with a certificate of completion that can be printed and maintained by the employee.

At-a-Glance Metrics

If being able to have metrics at your fingertips as it relates to employee activity around learning and development,  ensure the LMS reporting capabilities will give you the data you’re seeking in a manner that easily aligns to your way of doing business.


Depending on the needs of your organization, it may be hugely beneficial to create custom trainings and load them onto your LMS, or perhaps build training programs right within the LMS, so that they can be part of, and be tracked with, other training offerings on the LMS. Some LMS options allow for custom course uploads, and some don’t. Even if you aren’t creating custom coursework at the moment, you should consider whether it’s reasonable to except that to be a requirement for your organization in the future.

Cost and Cost Predictability

It is important to understand the up-front cost of an LMS under various contingencies. What if your organization grows and adds more users? What if the users want to pursue additional courses beyond the number that had been initially been projected? When considering cost, it’s important to not only thinking about where the organization is today but also what it may look like in the future. A system that can grow with the organization is often ideal.

Top 10 Popular LMS Providers:

  1. Adobe Captivate Prime
  2. Docebo LMS
  3. Talent LMS
  4. The Academy LMS
  5. ExpertusONE
  6. Administrate
  7. Dokeos
  8. LearnUpon
  9. G-Cube LMS
  10. Agylia

You really need to speak to the different providers to get a better idea of the offerings, and I hope that this list and initial set of ideas puts you on the right path towards selecting the best LMS for your organization. For more information about Helios’ LMS and Training and Development consulting expertise, please feel free to give us a call at 703-860-3882.