Do I Need an LMS?

Do I Need an LMS?

As a follow-up to my last blog “I Hate My LMS”, I would like to take a look at a more fundamental question, “Do I need an LMS?” I have been asked this question by several of my clients over the last few months. All of the recent hype on social collaboration and informal learning seems to be overshadowing formal learning and has resulted in companies questioning the need for an LMS. I was actually surprised the first time I was asked the question, and my quick response was “Absolutely.” But I took some time to think and reflect on the question to make sure my gut reaction was correct. If we take a look at the basic functionality of an LMS, it was designed to electronically register, deliver, and track learning assets. Over the past 10 years as LMS vendors realized that they would not survive unless they continued to add features and functionality, we now have bloated systems that in the next release will probably brew your morning coffee.

But the basic functionality of the LMS is still critical to all organizations. When we are considering eliminating an LMS, we may be forgetting about that core tracking functionality. I remember a conversation I had with a Fortune 500 CLO that said his job was to keep his company from being on the front page of the newspaper. We all know that the front page of a newspaper is not where the good news is printed. We get on the front page when employees make big mistakes, and when asked why, their reply is “I was never trained.” Try to prove they were trained by using existing social collaboration systems or showing informal training methods.

For those of you that are old enough to remember the training business prior to having the LMS, we would document attendance at a training session on paper and then store them in file cabinets until they could be copied onto microfiche ( if you need to look up what microfiche is, then you are not old enough to remember pre-LMS). When asked by an auditor or some other official to prove training occurred, it would take days to retrieve the information. Today we live in an environment of I want and need the information now. Any attempt to delay the delivery of information looks like a cover-up. So the next time you are brewing your morning cup of coffee through the LMS, remember quick proof of training is why we have and need an LMS.