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Best Practices

To Successfully Implement
A Learning Management System

Use this guide to help deploy your corporate LMS.


Table of Contents
Estimated read time: 20 minutes

Introduction 3

Selecting a framework for designing your learning materials 4

Step 1: Define 5

Step 2: Outline 5

Step 3: Build 6

Step 4: Engage 6

Step 5: Measure 7

Picking your LMS implementation team 8

Establishing an LMS implementation plan and timeline 9

Preparing for data migration 9

Trial run and training 10

System changeover 11

Assessing and wrapping up 11

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Introduction

After much deliberation, your organization has made the critical decision to replace your old LMS with a
new system. Or you’ve finally decided to implement an LMS for the first time. In either case, the issue now
becomes: How do we plan for the LMS implementation?

For starters, you should prepare to outline an LMS implementation process. The rest of this post will walk
you through how to do just that.

Not all LMS implementations are created equal. They will vary from one vendor to the next. And it will hinge
on a lot of the strategic work you did earlier in your selection and planning for the LMS.

For example, as we discussed in an earlier article, LMS implementation success will depend on answering
questions like these:

Why do I need an LMS?

Where in the user lifecycle will the LMS/training make the most impact?

What success metrics do I want to measure through the LMS?

What features do I really need?

What is the skill level of your LMS administrators?

How will I measure ROI?

If you have clarity on this, and have included your


LMS platform partner in your strategic planning,
Northpass is a next-generation then you should be aligned on your goals and set up
training software used to em- for a successful LMS implementation.
power the workforce. Whether
you’re brand new to online train- It’s also crucial that you’ve established goals and
ing, or a seasoned L&D profes- KPI’s for the initiative at the outset and make sure
sional, our technology. the LMS you selected will allow you to measure suc-
cess the way that is right for you. These goals will re-
main in focus throughout the LMS implementation
process.

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Select a framework for designing your learning materials

Choosing a learning framework early will help you during the LMS implementation stage and beyond. Elearn-
ing professionals and instructional designers may be familiar with two common learning methodologies —
ADDIE and SAM. Project managers may see parallels to waterfall and agile methodologies.

ADDIE is an acronym for analyze, design, develop, implement, evaluate. The idea behind it is that the instruc-
tional designer or team perfects each stage before moving on to the next. The downside is that it may not be
agile enough for an environment where goals have the potential to change.

SAM is an acronym for Successive Approximation Model, which emphasizes continuous iteration.
Both of these, though, really depend on involving the expertise of an experienced instructional designer, while
the modern LMS allows anyone to start developing courses.

At Northpass we’ve developed an alternative five-step methodology that we call The Beginner’s Guide to
Creating and Online Training Program. Let’s take a detour into the steps of this framework before diving into
the next steps of LMS implementation process.

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Step 1: Define

Clearly defining your learner personas, your business goals, your engagement strategy and learning objec-
tives and, finally, how you will measure the success of the initiative, is the best way to ensure the foundation
is strong.

In the process of researching these basic practical questions, you will discover what your audience needs to
learn. Refine your findings down to a bullet-point list of learning objectives and you will have the foundation
you need to build your training program.

With the “What” established, now you have to


spend some time thinking about the “Who.” Nu-
merous personal factors impact training devel-
opment for a specific audience. Aside from the
learning objectives, these include ideal learning
styles, previous knowledge of the subject, the
learning environment and strategies for reten-
tion and application.

Step 2: Outline

A key part of every learning methodology is recognizing the importance of a plan. Now it’s time to take the
learning objectives and your audience assessment and use them to create a training plan that meets every-
one’s needs. At this stage, you’ll clearly lay out your content development approach to ensure everyone on
your team is fully versed in the organizational structure, format and scope of content production.

The specifics of your plan will be contingent on the nature of the project; there are many ways to write a plan
and many different aspects you can include. Broadly speaking, however, the plan should explain:

What the training will be

Who will receive the training

What timetable will be used

What materials will be required

Planning not only gives your training much-needed structure, but it forces you to think in a tactical way that
will increase your impact.

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Step 3: Build

With a plan established, you now need training tools. Since most of your training will likely happen online, the
most time-consuming aspect of this phase is developing the online courses your learners will use.

To develop training content, you need to leverage the features offered by the learning management system
(LMS) and course authoring tools you’ve purchased. Features such as video integration, quizzes, and ana-
lytics are important for online training and should be intuitive and easy to use. Use the necessary tools to
properly develop design content, create highly engaging videos and record audio like a professional.

Step 4: Engage

Now it’s time to make sure your content finds its audience and that they can reap the benefits. Revisit Step
1 to determine the best way to deliver the content to your workers. Depending on your target learners, where
they spend most of their time, and the context of the training content, your delivery method may vary.

For example, if you’re onboarding new sales team members, you may want to embed a link to the courses
in the CRM tool used by your account executives. If you’re updating customer-facing employees on feature
releases, perhaps sharing the course link in an email or internal chat channel may be more appropriate.

No matter what you choose, be sure to meet your learners where they are to help make the courses easily
accessible and highly contextual.

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Step 5: Measure

Once you’ve given your target learners access to the courses, collect feedback and track their engagement
in the learning experience. Use qualitative and quantitative data to gain insight into the following.

Is the course easy to navigate?

Is the course content engagement?

What about the course can be improved?

How many learners have accessed the course?

How are learners scoring on the course assessments?

How many learners have completed the course?

In addition to focusing on the training metrics, it’s important to determine how this data maps to your busi-
ness goals. For example, if your goal is to make your customer support reps more knowledgeable and ef-
ficient in solving support tickets, you may want to correlate the completion rates to the average number of
exchanges required before a ticket is marked as resolved.

By selecting your elearning methodology early, you’ll get a jump start on getting to know the new LMS you’ve
adopted and how to properly conduct an LMS implementation. Having a strong grasp on your framework will
make the remaining steps outlined in this LMS implementation process plan.

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Pick your LMS implementation team

The LMS likely touches on several operations within your organization. So in building a team to oversee the
LMS implementation process, connect team members from those various departments, such as HR, IT and
learning and development.

If your LMS works with external partners, such as channel partners or contractors, bring those individuals on
the team as well. However, experts advise keeping the team as small as possible to ensure the LMS imple-
mentation process remains highly focused.

Once you assemble the team, establish individual roles. Here are some vital players:

Team leader. This person oversees the overall LMS implementation to completion, working directly with the
LMS vendor and dealing with any issues that arise.

Project manager. The project manager tracks all significant milestones in the LMS implementation process
to ensure all deadlines are met.

Elearning specialist. Your legacy training platform contains many elearning tools and courseware. The
elearning specialist supervises the transfer or development of content to the new system during LMS imple-
mentation.

L&D administrator. As this individual supervises the L&D program, he or she ensures the LMS matches or-
ganizational goals through the course structure, certification, compliance and user reports.

IT expert. Since LMS implementation requires a high level of technical expertise, an IT expert manages the
integration process with other systems within your enterprise.

Throughout the implementation process, the LMS platform partner works closely with your team members.
Open communication between your team and your partner is key. This ensures implementation coordinates
with your goals and happens within your timeframe.

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Establish an LMS implementation plan and timeline

How long the LMS implementation process


takes depends on which type of LMS you
choose. An on-premises LMS installed on your
own server may take longer than a hosted or
cloud-based LMS in which the system is housed
on the vendor’s server. The LMS vendor or your
IT department can provide a better estimate of
the timespan.

The number of user accounts and software programs you intend to migrate into and integrate with the LMS
also impacts the LMS implementation timeline. Be realistic in your timeline, and budget enough time to meet
each benchmark before the actual launch.

Preparing for data migration

Whether you are transitioning from a legacy LMS or implementing an LMS for the first time, a key decision
centers on which courses, data and instructional assets are to be transferred to the new system.

Transfer only those courses and data absolutely necessary for the upgraded LMS and archive the remainder.
Check with your legal department to see which files must be kept. (Course completions records and Record
of Prior Learning fall into that category.)

If you’re switching from a legacy LMS to a new one, have your IT expert review your instructional assets to
ensure they can be integrated within the new LMS. Even if SCORM compliant, the courses may need adjust-
ments to work in the new system.

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Trial run and training

Before completing the LMS implementation process and officially launching the new system, test the new
LMS among a group of handpicked users, be they internal staff or extended enterprise users such as channel
partners or contractors.

For the preliminary LMS trial, prepare a test case your administrators and users can run through. Document
any issues that crop up and report those to the team members and the LMS vendor.

Then, offer a training program to your internal users and external partners who will utilize the LMS. This
training can be delivered via a webinar or in-person instruction. Again, your LMS vendor provides guidance
on which training options are available (make sure to find out if there are extra fees involved).

Also during this period, formulate an LMS implementation rollout plan with your LMS vendor. Alert all stake-
holders — perhaps via an email campaign — about the launch and when it will happen.

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System changeover

As one of the final steps in the LMS implementation process, switching to the new LMS can be accomplished
several ways:

A complete changeover done overnight.

A gradual phase out of the old LMS and phase in of the new system.

Run both systems in parallel prior to the changeover.

In any case, alert your colleagues of any blackout period between when the old system goes offline and the
new LMS is live. Discuss with your LMS provider and team the best LMS implementation switchover process
for your needs.

Some experts advise running both systems in parallel as that preserves data integrity and gives users a
chance to become more comfortable on the new system. Once data is secure and all parties are ready, make
the full switchover to the new LMS.

Assessing and wrapping up

Once the LMS implementation process is complete and when the new system has been in operation for a
period of time, review how the process went for all involved. Pinpoint any technical glitches that may have
hampered the launch and correct those.

Additionally, similar to the last step in the Beginner’s Guide to Creating an Online Training Program – conduct
the following evaluation as you wrap up your LMS implementation. Assess how many users logged onto the
system and how they progressed through it. Did they complete the courses? How did they score? Scores
and user satisfaction don’t tell the entire story of how well the LMS performed in terms of organization goals.
But in the beginning such stats provide insight into the technical performance of the LMS, including page
uploads, time to upload and overall user experience.

The LMS implementation process doesn’t end at the time of the launch. Always look for ways to improve the
system, optimizing content, adding more courses and perfecting the user experience for as long as the LMS
is in operation.

The best training platforms have created, tested and refined very successful LMS implementation plans.
Make sure when selecting an LMS vendor, you ask questions around the implementation process. Here at
Northpass The Complete Beginner’s Kit to Creating an Online Training Program is the holy grail for imple-
menting a modern cloud-based LMS.

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If you’re looking for LMS, look no further than Northpass.
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