Making Your Own LMS?

Some organizations entertain the idea of creating their own in-house Learning Management System (LMS). Undoubtedly, they are intrigued with the potential cost savings and thoughts of a custom online training solution, designed just for them. This do-it-yourself approach may appear, at least superficially, easily achieved, but the project itself can be fraught with unexpected pitfalls and risk.

Let’s look at this endeavor from another point of view. Total cost of ownership for a home-grown e-learning system is elusive at best, quality often becomes inferior and future proofing is non-existent.

Generally speaking, an online training system is a specialized and sophisticated enterprise software application, usually with built-in course creation tools and a multitude of management features for the learners and administrators, including content files and extensive tracking capabilities. Course creation tools provide many options due to the different types of training applications and preferred methods for teaching and testing.

A Never-Ending DIY Project

Home grown systems typically embrace one way of doing things with few alternatives, leaving training administrators at the mercy of their IT team. This rigid end-product easily stunts creativity with course creation. As many people are impacted by any broadly deployed LMS, ask yourself, “Does my IT department have a strong track record in developing enterprise-wide software applications, and does it have the time and collaborative e-learning technology expertise to guide me down the right paths?”

Software development cost is almost always under-estimated. In the “old days” of software development, people often recommended tripling cost estimates of those given by programmers for creating software. Creating a highly effective e-learning system from scratch should begin with an extensive needs analysis for most of the organization. Let’s assume the task force conducting the needs analysis has the necessary skill set, including organizational development, teaching and learning technology expertise, plus software development project management. Each additional stage of software development has its own associated cost, including the cost of software bug fixes that most assuredly crop-up over time. Also, if you expect your new enterprise application to remain up-to-date, make sure to include the cost for your team to track and plan for on-going improvements and upgrades.

An Online Training Solution Already Exists

Overwhelmed? There is another option! You can purchase a fully supported, off-the-shelf LMS; one that is mature, cost efficient and proven effective across small or large enterprises, or access it via a cloud subscription service. Target a web-based training system with the broadest matching application, one that reaches the furthest, vertically and horizontally, through your organization and distribution model. Consider a system that allows “skill sets” so it accommodates the flexibility of an ever-changing workforce.

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