Choosing the Right LMS by Committee

Choosing the right LMS is key – See how to do such by electing a committee

Having a committee to identify and select your LMS or any other type of learning system depends on several factors. First and foremost, it is the culture of your organization. Secondly, the size of your company, with large companies usually having a committee to select a LMS, although as with anything it goes back to the aforementioned culture of the firm.

If you must establish a committee or be presented with the “no option” you are going to have one, there are some steps that you can do to alleviate and more importantly drive it to your perspective.

However, before doing so there are ground rules.

The make-up of the committee

How many, who is involved, what is their end game (there is always an end game), what is their post role (after implementation) and lastly, who are the champions (you want this) for you are important in the make-up of a committee.

How many

The ideal number is five and the worst case scenario is seven.  Any more folks than that and you can expect a long and drawn out process not to mention unnecessary headaches along the way.

A committee should be manageable not chaotic and when you have more than seven, chaotic occurs often.

Why five?

Having five members on a committee ensures that the most relevant (key people) are involved. These five people usually will be the ones, you or whomever in your department, will be in weekly, if not monthly contact with or at least play a role in initial and then long after launch.

There is though a twist to the “five”, which are the main three.  In any LMS committee there are three people whose roles are the foundation.

After that, there are ancillary roles/departments (individuals) what are added to the group.  How are they selected with your input or without your input?

It all comes down the culture and specifications.

Many people believe it is related the business members or some type of requirement, but in quite a few cases, it is all about politics.

And as you are aware office politics and empowerment – okay power – can be a recipe for poor picking of a system.

The foundation

  • Head of IT/IS – In some cases it is their number two or three; this is not something you want, unless that secondary person will be the person whom you will be in contact with in the pre and post launch AND will be the POC (point of contact) long after the system is up and running. 

If that person, won’t be that key stakeholder, then either request strongly (i.e. demand) the head of IT or whomever he/she is going to have as your POC. 

  • Head of HR – At some companies, not only with the head of HR or whomever will be your POC is part of the committee, but also who has been designated from HRIS to be part of the team.  For sake of argument, let’s assume there is not a HRIS person, rather someone in HR (sans HRIS).

If L&D or training is under HR, then this section is moot, because they are going to be part of the committee regardless, and they will be a decision maker (at some level).   

If L&D or training is not under HR, then a HR person on the committee will play an important role in the success of the LMS, once it is up and running and then down the road.

In most committees whoever is running HR will be part of it.  There are exceptions. Some companies will have the number two in HR or whoever will be the POC for you, as the representative for HR, rather than the head of HR.

Regardless, someone from HR is a committee member.  

  • You.  No surprise here, but you clearly will make up one of the members of the committee.  Some companies/firms/organizations have whomever will be the administrator for the LMS, as part of the committee.  That is a huge mistake.

An administrator plays a key role in the LMS, but having them as part of the decision making process really doesn’t make any sense. 

Think of it this way, if this was a committee for ILT would you have your trainers as part of the decision? 

Would they get to say, yes we support training 1,500 employees on X topic versus Y topic and then you as head of training/L&D, go okay I will defer to you?

Of course not, so why follow that approach with your administrator?  This person will not be a stakeholder in the strategy, nor a champion (essential for your success within the organization), nor be someone you will defer to when it comes to your overall e-learning strategy (usually).

This may seem to you as a cold and bold statement, but it is harsh reality.

Keep them informed? Absolutely, but then again, you should keep your entire department informed on what is occurring (whatever can be made public that is) in those meetings. 

Ancillary Players

  • Procurement – If you have a procurement department they will be on your committee, unless you are given an option.  If they are not the decision maker in the selection of the LMS or part of the final decision making team (and not every committee member will be/nor should be), then leave them off the team.

If you do not have a procurement department, then this bullet point is not relevant.  However, if you have an accounting/finance department, they may have someone they designate on the committee – again, it is a maybe they will or maybe they won’t be a member of the committee.

Pros of Procurement

Sure they can play a role in process identification of steps or rules to follow in identification, recommendation and selection, but some procurement departments – okay most – are not knowledgeable in e-learning and can be a hindrance in the process.

Unless they have already devised a workable and realistic e-learning strategy for a LMS or have been involved in previous selections, then having a procurement person is not a plus.

Procurement Cons

  • ERP experience. 

If you have an ERP and/or a HRIS system or some other type of solution it is not unusually to have procurement involved. 

The problem that arises when it comes to LMS identification or having control in making the final decision (often the case) is that an ERP is not a LMS.

Nor is a HRIS system. A LMS and even a learning platform are completely unique entities whose technology, let alone structure is so different from say selecting an ERP, that using that approach is guaranteed to backfire.

The reason is tied directly into that little thing called the LMS itself.  Terminology, pricing, structure, methodology, technology, objectives and goals you know with L&D (procurement wouldn’t have that experience), all play important roles.

For example, when a LMS vendor says you are buying a platform, the industry really means you are renting the system. A turnkey system is quite different than a fully customized offering which is usually is the case with an ERP.

Lastly, consider this.

When was the last time procurement, had you as part of their committee to select a procurement system?  When did they request L&D or training to offer not only input, but make the final decision in selecting their system?

If you said never, congratulations, welcome to the team. 

  • Compliance – If your company has a compliance officer, CCO, expect them to either be part of the group or to have input.  A compliance person being on the committee is not necessarily a minus, rather they can play an important role in assuring that the system has the appropriate compliance and regulatory features.

Compliance Pros

Other potential committee members

  • Another employee from L&D/Training – If you have another employee, perhaps a designated e-learning manager, then this is a potential person.  That said, it is not recommended to have someone such as the person or persons building the courses. 
  • Legal – Some companies will want a person from legal as part of the committee, other firms will not require it.  Recommendation – try to avoid having someone from legal on the committee. Legal folks are well, experts in legal matters and selecting a LMS shouldn’t be part of their wheel house.  If you do not have a legal department OR you have the authority to review and sign off on the contract without them, then what is their value on being a member?

Zero.  If they are on the committee what is their value in the identification and selection of a LMS? Again, zero.  If you have the decision making authoring to decide who is on the committee and Legal is an option – decline that option.