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Questions to Ask Vendors of Learning Management Software

April 8, 2001
Related Topics: Behavioral Training, Basic Skills Training, Training Technology, Featured Article
When a company is considering the purchase of a learning management system,it is important to obtain as much information as possible from vendors to ensurethe correct product is selected. Such a purchase is generally a largeinvestment, with a long-term commitment, so you will want to know as much as youcan ahead of time.

The following is a list of questions provided by previous purchasers of suchprograms. These questions may complement your specific company-related questionsand make the selection process easier.

  1. Program development
  2. Content
  3. Upgrading
  4. Quality assurance
  5. Security
  6. Cost

Program development
Describe your company's development methodology, including:

  • The educational theory behind the learning management system.

  • Your company's history of past implementations, successful andunsuccessful.

  • Your developers' plans for emerging technologies and a timeframe for whenthey are expected to be included in your product.

  • What distinguishes your offering from those of other companies in thismarket.


Describe your approach to content, including:

  • How content is replicated.

  • Whether non-programmers can make changes to the content of the database.

  • Whether you support the ability to launch and track reusable learningobjects, or to assemble them into courses for specified training.

  • Whether Microsoft Office tools can be used to create content and learningprograms.

  • Whether and how date can be converted from an existing system.

Describe your company's upgrade philosophy, including:

  • Whether there is easy integration with other systems.

  • The impact of upgrades on modifications to the system (e.g., if the systemis customized to accommodate specific business rules, are version upgradestransparent or does the customization have to be redone).

Quality Assurance

Describe your company's approach to quality control, including:

  • Whether the application is scalable.

  • How you know your Web-based training solution is effective.

Describe your company's approach to security, including:

  • Whether sensitive personnel data can be secured.

  • Whether your system can support multiple browsers and security settings.

  • How much integration work is required to support your system.

  • The average time it should take to get started and any factors that mightinfluence timeframes.

Describe your company's approach to costs, including:

  • Hosting and access costs, and costs of customization.

  • The total costs we can expect (for scheduling, training, etc.)

  • Audit trail functionality and electronic signature compliance.

  • Whether your provide for test runs (using the actual software with yourown database before buying).

  • The expected return on investment.

SOURCE: "Learning Management Systems 2001: How to Choose the RightSystem for Your Organization," by Brandon Hall, Ph.D., Jan. 2001.

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