Shortcomings of a manual learning management system
The manual management of all the training and learning related activities is a time consuming and tedious process since one has to deal with different information types using various tools on scattered PCs and servers:
- course content in Word, PowerPoint, PDF, course authoring software proprietary format
- course catalogues on paper, Word, PDF or HTML
- course attendance (registrations, wait lists, completed courses, marks and assessments) compiled as Excel spreadsheets or in a data base format (MS Access, Filemaker others)
- competency framework and statements saved in Word, Excel or in various data bases
- surveys and tests in Word, PDF, or on paper.
Beyond a certain number of employees, of courses and/or administrative centers processing information under their scope, the time and resources required to manage training needs increase significantly as do the risks of errors and omissions.
What is a Learning Management System?
A Learning Management System (LMS) is a software application used by organizations in order to benefit from more competent and more productive employees through centralizing all relevant information and through automating the learning, development and competency evaluation processes pertaining to their human resources (personel, customers, franchisees/resellers, other stakeholders).
Organizations which can benefit the most from using an LMS
LMSs are used by thousands of organizations worlwide.
While all organizations can benefit from using a LMS, it is of even greater benefit to those who are asked to comply to laws, rules and standards which prescribe specific processes and behaviours such as governance, ethics, human and animal health, manipulation, transport and stocking hazardous materials, security of installations and operations, etc…
- manufacturers and distributors pharmaceutical products,
- health establishments,
- financial services,
- oil and gas,
- food manufacturers,
- organizations subject to rules and regulations addressing workplace health and security, manufacturing standards, environmental regulations, etc.
Those compliance requirements are measured and assessed, among other indicators, through the successful completion of courses and certificaiton of skills.
LMSs are also used by educational institutions in order to enrich instructor-led courses as well as to offer online courses to a broader audience of students worldwide.
Typical LMS Functionality
A good LMS offers the following functionality:
- Competency management (categorization, gap identification, tracking of development).
- Learning and Development Plan management (creation, approval, tracking ).
- Training program management (creation, criteria-based assignment, tracking).
- Certification management (creation, criteria-based assignment, notifications, recertifications, tracking).
- Course creation and update (modules, course tasks, electronic content, links, assessments).
- Automatic assignment of training curricula and certifications to targeted personel based on criteria (job, role, location, other criteria).
- Course management (auto-enrollment, notifications, approbation by supervisor, resource allocation, transcripts, printing diploma, continuous educational units, tracking).
- Broadcasting of training and learning activities (instructor-led training, synchronous and asynchronous web-based training, self-learning, on-the-job training, webinar, etc.).
- Creation, delivery and management of online surveys and skills assessment tests.
- Availability of a knowledge base (documents, articles, links, job aids, etc.).
- On demand reports generation (preconfigured standard reports, ad hoc customizable reports, export, analytics).
- Optional: E-Commerce to sell courses online.
The Saba LMS architecture is depicted in the diagram below.
Best practices are integrated in order to, for example, devise a competency framework so courses are developed in congruence, identify skill gaps which will highlight learning and development needs as well as to automatically assign courses to people who need to develop particular skills.