learning management system

6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Looking For a New LMS

6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Looking For a New LMS

Looking for a new LMS can be daunting with so many features and trends that come and go. There isn’t a single perfect LMS because they have all evolved out of different industries and circumstances. Considering the plethora of options out there, the simplest approach to finding the right LMS is to identify the kind of training solution you need and look for the best match based on their strengths and weaknesses.

As a result, we’ve come up with 6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Looking For a New LMS. The questions below will help you put on paper what kind of training solution you need.

#1 What type of content will you publish?

Online training happens in many formats: multimedia, interactive eLearning, scheduled webinars, in-person classes, and more. Your specific training might be better suited to certain mediums—many skills are taught best when shown by video rather than by reading while some skills can only be taught in person. Thinking about your type of content also means thinking about the skills and knowledge you are training.

What is the best medium to train the skills you need to train? Which tools will you use to create eLearning content and is your prospective LMS compatible with those tools? What devices will your audience use to access your training?

Of course, resources are another factor. Not everyone can budget for programs that are entirely multimedia focused or interactive. What medium (or mix of mediums) best fits your budget?

Being able to say that you want a training program that is primarily made of interactive SCORM activities, or videos, or in-person classes will greatly shape how you approach your LMS search.

#2 How will you assess your learners?

Assessment is just as important as training and likely just as specialized to your industry. How do you confirm that learners have what they need to know before you send them off to do their job? Some common ways to find out are online quizzes, manager observational checklists, or surveys.

When assessing knowledge, what kinds of questions or inputs will you be using the most? When should learners be quizzed—immediately after completing the training or some time later? Are there other forms of assessment in your organization—do they need to be part of the LMS?

Clearly stating how you intend to handle assessments means you can look at the capabilities of an LMS and determine if your strategy would run smoothly (or at all) on that platform. Consequently, missing out on this requirement could mean that your LMS won’t track one of its most basic goals: determining whether your training works.

#3 Who is your audience and how are they assigned training content?

There are many different ways that LMS’s assign content to learners which usually stem from the industry they started in. For instance, educational institutions often implement self enrollment while businesses often want to automatically assign content based on roles and departments. Furthermore, within an organization there may be a mix of assignment rules depending on the type of content.

In your ideal workflow, how is the right content assigned to your learners? This can be done automatically based on the learner’s role, assigned over time at certain milestones, or by a manager. Will different types of content require different assignment rules?

Try to outline the rules you need in place to optimally assign content. Then, look for how each LMS aligns with your rule; misaligned rules and functionality can lead to massive overhead work, consistent human error when executing workflows, and disengagement with the platform.

#4 What measures do you need to report on?

Think about the numbers that you will need to analyze whether your training program works. You might start with standard numbers such as completion percentage or average quiz scores. Additionally, certain organizations need to track time spent training while others might need to categorize the type of training being completed.

What is the main indicator that a learner has completed their training in your organization? What do reports do you need to generate on a regular basis? How are reports often broken down (e.g. by department or by content type)?

Reporting tells you the impact of your LMS on your organization but going without it will leave you in the dark. Make sure the key measures you’ve identified are tracked and available in the LMS. Check how easy is it to get these numbers out of the system; reporting should become part of a regular routine.

#5 Who manages accounts

6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Looking For a New LMS

Every LMS needs to create accounts for learners that help track progress, restrict access, and create reports. How those accounts are created will depend on your organization.

Are accounts created by a central admin team? Or by managers at a location or department level? Can learners self register? Or is there an external tool from which to sync learner accounts?

How you handle learner accounts should fit your day-to-day operations and not create a lot of new work. LMS’s can help by providing integrations with existing tools, or distributing the work of managing accounts to the right people.

#6 How much help will you need?

If you started asking yourself these questions and your ideal LMS seemed to become larger and more complex, that might mean you need help with your project. It’s unlikely that any one system will meet your requirements exactly. Therefore, some additional work will be necessary to make your vision happen.

What applicable skills does your team have internally? Based on your answers above, what skills would help make your vision happen? What is your timeline and can it be met with your resources?

There are many services offered by LMS companies or external companies to help fill gaps where needed (e.g. software development, custom configurations, instructional design, and more) to build the best possible product. Include these as part of your plan if needed!


Taking the time to think through the ideal way to deploy your online training program means you will be better prepared to start meeting and evaluating potential LMS solutions in a deliberate way. Answering the questions above simply gives you an idea of the kind of solution you need. You might discover new details along the way to change that plan but it is always best to have an initial plan.

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Sharing the Load with your LMS

Sharing the Load with Your LMS

When you’re an LMS Admin, your LMS is your workhorse and partner. It should be doing the leg work so you can focus on big-picture planning, decision making, and working with your stakeholders. Does your LMS fulfill its duties as your trusty companion or do you find yourself doing most of the heavy lifting?

Here are a few ways we’ve seen LMSs help or hinder their admins. These are based on real stories and experiences (the good and the bad)!

Generating Reports

Decision makers (including yourself) depend on good data to get a detailed view of their organization and plan accordingly. It’s not uncommon for LMS admins to be responsible for running reports but the worst requests an LMS admin can receive are recurring tasks. “Hey, can you create this report for me? And do it every Monday? Forever?”

Don’t spend your time running and building the same report in excel over and over again.

Does your LMS allow you to create and save custom reports? Use custom reports to let you generate the reports you need instead of cobbling them together from 4 different files!
Work with developers to automate reports; email them direct to your recipients or save them to a centralized (and secure) location.

Registering Users

User accounts don’t create themselves, or do they? Creating accounts one by one for your users is a time sink that can eat up hours in the week. Does the creation of every user account on the site depend on one admin?

Don’t get roped into creating each account by hand!

Create a user registration workflow that works for your organization using integrations, self registration, invite links, or managers to create accounts.
Distribute the responsibility of account creation. Who knows best which user accounts should and should not be on the site? Give them the permissions to control their own team.
If you have a “master list” of users on an existing platform, develop and integration to sync your accounts.

Publishing Content

“Launch day”– 2 words that might give any LMS admin nasty flashbacks. Whether you are launching a brand new training program, introducing a new sales promotion, or simply updating existing materials, it can mean all sorts of unpleasantness.

Don’t be on the receiving end of the proverbial dump truck of content to publish at 2AM on launch day!

  • Pre-load your content on the site or, better yet, build it online so your content is stored and ready to go with the flip of a switch.
  • Schedule your content to publish ahead of time so any switch flipping is handled automatically– reducing chances of human error and late night work.

Send reminders

When it comes to training, reminding people to get their requirements done is half the battle (especially for recurring courses). Sending out reminders and notifications, however, is not fun and a big waste of mental effort (I already have a hard time keeping track of dentist appointments).

Don’t clog your calendar up with other people’s reminders!

Does your LMS track expiry dates and send warnings for training requirements? Establish your expiry warning rules and automate the process directly in your system.


Your time as an LMS admin is too valuable to spend on things that can be automated. Good planning and design by an LMS admin can produce workflows that run smoothly and take the pain out of day-to-day admin work.

Have a story you’d like to share with us about silky smooth LMS workflows you’ve applied? Or horror stories about doing all the heavy lifting yourself? Send us your stories at support@cogcentric.com!

Want to see how Fabric can be your heavy-lifting LMS companion? Try it for free!

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CMS vs LMS What’s the Difference

CMS vs LMS: What’s the Difference?

Ever since the internet came and took over our lives and our work, programmers have been creating online management systems. Customer relationship management, content management, learning management, and so on.

Each management system did something unique that made it specialized for its purpose. But the number of systems that became available diluted the meaning and made it hard for users and organizations to determine what’s best for them. Let’s take a quick look at Learning Management Systems (LMS) and what makes them specialized for learning apart from other management systems such as Content Management Systems (CMS).

The always connected nature of the internet made it perfect for centralizing important data for storage and collaboration. Data could mean anything from text articles, multimedia, inventory, personal information, and more. For all this data, or content, there had to be a way to get it into and out of the system and the amount of content could grow to be massive. Manually coding your static website to publish all this content became impossible so content management systems were created.

Today, 38.4% of all websites are run on WordPress, you might have heard of it. Shoppify, Joomla and Drupal make up 2.9%, 2.3%, and 1.5% of sites respectively. For many companies, Microsoft Sharepoint is the go to content management system internally. It turns out that all this content on the internet needs to be managed somehow!

What LMSs Bring to the Table

Learning management evolved into a different specialization from content management. This is where systems like Moodle, Canvas, Blackboard, Absorb, and Fabric stepped up. What did these programs add to the mixture that made them especially suited for learning?

Content Structure

LMS developers realized that learning content simply is not structured like a website or blog. Your math textbook was not organized into categories with articles sorted by most likes. No, it was structured into chapters and lessons and started with foundational concepts that increased in complexity. Learning management systems needed to provide ways to structure content to improve learning, not encourage casual reading.

Progress Tracking

The management part of learning means that there must be some record keeping on who has learned what. In schools this is done through certificates, diplomas, and degrees—you get a physical piece of paper that signifies that you have successfully learned a specific set of skills and knowledge. This proof is necessary to show other people what you are able to do (e.g. get hired). An LMS needs to do the same thing if it’s going to be useful.

Assessment and Marking

The other part of managing learning is assessing how the content was learned through assessment. We remember these from school as exams and report cards and, whether we liked it or not, they were an important part of our learning experience. It gave both students and teachers a tool to identify areas where the student needed help or where they could be challenged more. These functions are as useful in the workplace as they are in an academic setting.

Conclusion: The Right Tool for the Job

Training departments that try to build their training programs on Sharepoint or WordPress will quickly run into problems when it comes to structuring their content in an optimal way for learning, providing proof that the training program has been completed, and recording how well the learners internalized the knowledge. The results from these attempts are often kludgy and inefficient.

Learning management systems provide critical features that are specialized for learning in the areas of content structure, progress tracking, and assessment. They saw that content management systems were not equipped to handle learning and added features based on best practices in education and academia that everyone is familiar with like certificates, report cards, and text books.

That said, many technologies evolve and content management systems that allow other developers to build extensions like WordPress and Joomla are able to have LMS features added on to the base CMS. Regardless, it is the fundamental features and the design of the product that make it a fit for your learning purposes.

Have you tried using a content management tool as a learning management system in your organization before? How did it go?

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