Prevent LMS Implementation Failure: 6 Pitfalls to Avoid

Whether you’re buying a learning management system (LMS) for the first time or fifth time, LMS implementation can be complicated.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the scope of the implementation process, which can result in some major setbacks.

To help you stay on track, we’ve listed six common pitfalls to avoid when planning your LMS implementation.

Common Challenges

1. No Clear Goal

Many times, the LMS implementation goal is the same as the reason for buying an LMS in the first place. This can be as broad as “to improve internal training” or “to sell learning materials.”

Although the purpose for buying is a good place to start, your implementation goal needs to be more specific. Without a clear goal set, your run risk of “scope creep.”

Scope creep is when you lose sight of the project’s original goal by changing requirements and adding tasks after the project has begun. This can make the implementation process longer than necessary and cost more than expected.

Pro-tip: Before you review your top LMS choices, have a meeting with your core implementation team to define a clear goal and how to measure the project’s success. Be sure to ask questions like:

  • What will the LMS be used for?
  • Which departments will use the LMS?
  • Will we sell the courses created and stored in the LMS?

Document the final goal to reference as you proceed through the project. This will make it easier to stay on task as unexpected changes pop up. If the change isn’t critical, don’t be afraid to have it wait for a potential Phase 2.

2. Underestimating the Project Implementation Plan

According to elogic Learning, there are four LMS implementation types:

  1. Self-service setup – The self-service setup is typical with cloud-based learning management software. The LMS is ready to use instantly, and the customer configures the solution to its needs when an account is created with the vendor. The vendor has little to no involvement in this process.
  2. Assisted setup – In the assisted setup strategy, the vendor provides minimal implementation support to speed up the process. Typically, each customer will be assigned a point of contact to address questions and concerns.
  3. Full service implementation – A vendor with a full service implementation has a multistep process set in place. The vendor provides a professional to guide customers through every step of the process, from planning to the go live period.
  4. Global enterprise deployment – Global enterprise deployment goes beyond learning management by providing services like business process redesign, extensive customizations and integrated talent management.

Not knowing what to expect from the vendor can make it difficult to create an effective plan and timeline. This can cause the implementation take longer than expected.

Pro-tip: Before signing on the dotted line, ask the vendor for its implementation template. Use this as a starting point to create your own project plan and timeline.

Having a set plan will keep the project going in the right direction, as well as give you advance notice to schedule and allocate enough resources for each implementation step.

Not sure how to start? Check out our step-by-step guide to creating an implementation project plan.

3. Not Enough Resources

If there aren’t enough resources to complete a step in the implementation process, the whole project can come to a halt. Resources can include people with a certain skillset, necessary equipment or software, and project funding.

Lacking necessary resources can be a result of poor planning.

Pro-tip: Take the time to assign resources to every task necessary to complete each implementation step. Do this while creating your detailed project plan and timeline so everyone knows their responsibilities ahead of time.

4. Little or No Communication

An LMS implementation has many moving parts that can involve a lot of people.

Without open communication, everyone involved will never stay on the same page about the project’s progress. Not only will this frustrate team members, stakeholders and end users, it may also make them feel negative toward the software.

Pro-tip: Create and document a communication plan to reference throughout the project. This should include who will give progress updates, how often, and who the updates are for.

Providing periodic progress updates will also allow you to have the time and space to address any questions or concerns about the LMS and implementation project.

Be sure to create a communication plan for the vendor, as well as your team, key stakeholders and your company.

 5. No LMS-Ready Assets

LMS assets are the materials you can turn into learning content. These can include training documents, PowerPoint presentations and videos.

These assets must be available in a format compatible with the new LMS. If not, the migration stage of implementation will become time-consuming and tedious.

Pro-tip: As you begin your LMS implementation, take inventory of the assets you have and need.

Chances are you don’t need to migrate all your outdated learning materials, saving you time. You might also be able to update or repurpose some assets while checking if they are compatible with the new solution.

6. Not Thinking Beyond Implementation

It’s easy to get so involved with planning the LMS implementation and initial rollout. However, for the most success, you have to think about the life of the LMS after the rollout is over.

This challenge can be twofold:

When choosing an LMS, many times a company will get caught up in available features that meet the current needs and forget to evaluate the solution’s scalability.

Additionally, the implementation team can get bogged down with planning and executing the LMS implementation, so they forget to plan for the maintenance of the LMS or how new users will be trained on the software.

Pro-tip: As you vet your top LMS choices, ask questions about the LMS vendor and its solution updates to review how well the solution will grow with your company.

When you create your implementation project plan, bring your IT department into the conversation for insights on data governance and solution permissions. Also, assign a person or team who will be responsible for the LMS’s maintenance, such as updates and licenses.

During the user testing and training stage of the implementation, confirm with the vendor which training resources will be available down the road. Also take notes of quirks in the system so you can pass along the knowledge to new users.

The Positive Effect

You can’t plan for every caveat and roadblock that may pop up during a large project like an LMS implementation.

However, if you start with the end in mind, you can head many of the common challenges off at the pass, saving you time, money and resources.

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