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Successful Implementation of your Learning Management System (LMS) Part 1: Planning and Organizing

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Just like in middle school, that awkward day in gym - it is time to pick teams. Thankfully, you’re the one picking. This is one of the most important things you will need to do for a smooth and successful LMS implementation. You will need to determine the number of people you want for this project, depending on the size of your organization - we recommend four at the minimum. Who are these people and what do they do?

  • A project manager to oversee all the moving pieces, and make sure everything is launching in a timely manner and being communicated to the appropriate team members.
  • A technology specialist or eLearning guru who will be the one to work all the magic, making sure all the tools are working the way your favorite sales person told you they would, someone to make any migration happen, testing before launch and overall maintaining the system.
  • A trainer which, we feel this is self-explanatory, but this person will know almost as much as your technology specialist. They should be able to translate the system for your everyday user, making everyone feel confident while on the LMS.
  • A system administrator, this person will make sure all your security protocols are being followed and keep things on the up and up.

While there are many others we could add to this team, we feel these are the main positions needed to make sure the launch works well, and any issues will be discovered before going live to your core audience.

NOTE: A good LMS will provide all 4 roles, often in 1 or 2 people, for your implementation. You should still have these roles represented among your internal implementation team, but you can lean heavily on the LMSs experts who should support you.

Once you have established your team, you and your project manager will need to decide on a timeline. When developing the timeline, be sure to give yourself adequate time to complete the implementation and set a go live day. Once you’ve done this, add more time - wouldn’t you rather project more and finish sooner? Trust us on this. The ‘typical’ implementation timeframe is anywhere between six and twelve months – if you just spit out your soda in surprise, we’re talking about a FULL implementation. Most LMS’s will tell you that implementation takes 4 to 6 weeks. Yes, you can go live in a very short amount of time (new Torch LMS clients go live in 3 days to 6 weeks), but taking full advantage of everything the LMS can do, automating everything you possibly can, takes time. The constraint is typically finding time to fit in the tasks with your other work. The tasks don’t eat up much actual work time, but are a challenge to prioritize. So, prioritize your implementation to get it done quickly, or spread it out over a year, it’s up to you.

Your implementation will however fall on the longer side if you are transitioning from an existing LMS because you need to factor in migration and updating any existing training documentation to reflect all the new changes. Typically, the LMS implementation involves six major steps:

  • Planning
  • LMS configuration
  • Integration
  • Course and data migration
  • Testing
  • Go live

Before you begin planning, we suggest reaching out to your LMS provider to see if they have any existing implementation templates to use - no need reinventing if someone can take you the first part of the way. This is your checklist to keep you and your project manager on task and let all team members know where everyone is in the process. There are plenty of free online tools for project management that provide access to multiple people, if you are not already using a program for this. 

Once you have your plan, it’s time to figure out how the heck you are going to configure the LMS. You can begin by working with your vendor, but ultimately, this is where you need to map out what is critical to you. What information do you need to gather to create user profiles? Do you just need names and titles? What information you want the LMS to have about the employees who will be in your system? Once you have determined that and any other critical configuration decisions, and trust me, this may take a lot longer than you think, you will then pull that from any existing database and upload it to the LMS. 

NOTE: A good LMS will make configuring and migrating a smooth and relatively easy process. Lean on them for their expertise. After all, they’ve likely implemented 100’s of companies.

Next, you need to decide what types of roles to build out and what restrictions (permissions) those roles will have – your LMS should be able to customize permissions for every role. For example, a ‘student’ role may be able to see all content in a course but won’t be able to manipulate any data and can only see their own grades and assignments. An ‘instructional designer’ role, may be able to manipulate course content for the course(s) they own, but may not have access to all student work and grades, while a ‘trainer’ role may be able to access student grades, reset quizzes but not be able to make changes to content. There are many configurations and roles you can create, so really think this through.

Feeling overwhelmed yet? If so, lean on your LMS’s implementation manager more because this is just the beginning! In the following posts we will talk about how we are going to create the curriculum, other system integrations, and testing. Talk soon!

 

If you’d like to learn more about implementation, our team is always available to answer your questions, set up a demo, and more. Just ask.

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