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Updated Dec 20, 2023

What Is an LMS (Learning Management System)?

Many organizations use a learning management system to give employees opportunities for expanding their professional development.

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Written By: Adam UzialkoBusiness Strategy Insider and Senior Editor
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This guide was reviewed by a Business News Daily editor to ensure it provides comprehensive and accurate information to aid your buying decision.

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With online learning a mainstay of education across all levels, it makes sense that businesses would incorporate this technology into their training and professional growth systems. In fact, many companies are integrating cloud-based learning management software to create, administer and distribute specific courses to train new employees and track current employees’ progress and performance. 

We’ll dive deeper into learning management systems and explain how businesses can use LMS resources to incorporate this effective employee training tactic into their organizations. 

What is a learning management system (LMS)?

A learning management system is a powerful training and professional development software resource that organizations of all sizes can incorporate into their employee onboarding process. Many LMS platforms are hosted in the cloud, allowing for remote access. 

An LMS combines database management within a digital framework to manage curricula, training materials, evaluation tools, course scheduling, regulatory compliance and more. 

LMS software can help you control learning, development and training while allowing you to set clear expectations for employees about their progress. 

Did You Know?Did you know
Businesses that encourage professional development among their employees see reduced employee turnover and increased satisfaction and engagement.

Who benefits from an LMS?

Many elements of an organization benefit when the company incorporates a learning management system into its training and professional growth education programs. 

  • Employees: Employees benefit from an LMS because they receive well-thought-out, uniform training and education that set them up for success in the company. They also gain in-demand career skills to help them map their career path. With e-learning materials managed and stored in a single interface, employees can access required training on demand. And because an LMS is usually stored in the cloud, employees can train remotely. 
  • Managers: Managers benefit from an LMS because the programs help them seamlessly track and monitor employees’ progress. The LMS can generate reports to show everyone’s progress with required courses and training materials. With scoring reports, managers can see who performed well on tests and who needs additional support. LMS resources also help ensure compliance with any training regulations. Additionally, department heads can ensure employees complete specific training courses before starting a new job. 
  • Organization: The entire organization benefits from developing a training program that is efficient, uniform and large-scale. Learning management systems are flexible and scalable, so businesses can add and eliminate courses and materials as needed. They can update content to keep employees abreast of the latest industry developments and remove materials that are no longer relevant. Additionally, the organization can provide specific customer training so its employees are well versed in how a product or service operates. This training enhances sales and customer service efforts and ultimately boosts customer satisfaction. 

What are the components of an LMS?

Learning management systems are highly customizable and scalable, so there’s no specific list of components that define an LMS. Although there are standard features, a learning management system’s full capabilities vary by organization and intended usage. 

In general, an LMS can do the following:

  • Create class rosters, control registration and build waiting lists
  • Upload and manage curriculum content
  • Deliver course content over a web-based interface for an entirely remote educational experience for instructors and students
  • Create and publish course calendars
  • Foster interactions between students via functions such as instant messaging, email and forums
  • Establish methods for assessment and testing, such as multiple-choice quizzes 

In the corporate training environment, learning management systems offer these additional features that cater to busy, professionally driven individuals:

  • Automatic enrollment and reminders for mandatory courses
  • Manager access for approving materials and participation
  • HR integration for tracking employment eligibility, performance goals and course completions
If your company doesn't provide an LMS for professional development, consider online programs to boost business skills, including Coursera and OpenLearn.

What are the advantages of an LMS?

A learning management system adds another level of efficiency to an organization and the growth of its employees. An LMS effectively creates an online learning environment where employees can select courses that interest them or that they are required to take, and managers can track potential office improvements based on course history.

Here are some ways an LMS can benefit an organization:

  • Helps employees learn more effectively. Learning activities are housed in one location, thereby reducing costs while increasing the visibility and availability of learning opportunities.
  • Improves compliance reporting. Learning management systems can track employees’ courses and scores so management can focus on training and identify certification needs.
  • Combines social and formal learning for higher overall value. The integration of an online method of study accelerates learning, increases knowledge retention and allows employees to go at their own pace.
  • Empowers administration. Management will know what employees are learning and which topics need greater focus to create a more well-rounded team.
  • Streamlines content delivery. Instructors can more easily prepare and present quality courses that will provide participants with positive learning opportunities.

What LMS software is available?

There are numerous learning management systems with access to vast training libraries or resources to allow organizations to create their own content. 

Here are some popular LMS platforms: 

  • 360Learning
  • Blackboard Learn
  • Desire2Learn (D2L)
  • Moodle
  • Sakai LMS
  • Docebo
  • Bridge

Each platform offers a comprehensive interface for managing and setting up curricula, tracking employees’ progress and managing course history. 

Tip: To get feedback on your organization’s LMS, develop and conduct employee surveys to gauge how employees feel about the training program’s ease of use and features. 

How much does an LMS cost? 

LMS pricing varies by provider, and vendors can usually offer multiple pricing models to companies. For instance, the LMS provider may set a per-use price, a monthly price for a set number of users, or a charge for the overall course.

How do you choose LMS software?

When you’re choosing LMS software, consider the following factors:

  • Business needs: How will your business use the learning platform? For example, do you need a cloud system to accommodate remote employees?
  • Features: Does your organization need to address compliance concerns? Are you handling sensitive data? If so, the LMS software should have robust security features. 
  • Budget: Research vendors to see which ones can accommodate your budget while addressing the critical features you need. 

An LMS is a critical piece of staff management infrastructure

An LMS can be a flexible and cost-effective way to get your staff up to speed, keep their skills sharp, and monitor whether employees complete their learning responsibilities in a thorough and timely manner. LMS content is variable and customizable, and prices are flexible, making an LMS a smart investment for many businesses.

Ross Mudrick contributed to the reporting and writing in this article. 

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Written By: Adam UzialkoBusiness Strategy Insider and Senior Editor
Adam Uzialko, senior editor of Business News Daily, is not just a professional writer and editor — he’s also an entrepreneur who knows firsthand what it’s like building a business from scratch. His experience as co-founder and managing editor of a digital marketing company imbues his work at Business News Daily with a perspective grounded in the realities of running a small business. Since 2015, Adam has reviewed hundreds of small business products and services, including contact center solutions, email marketing software and text message marketing software. Adam uses the products, interviews users and talks directly to the companies that make the products and services he covers. He specializes in digital marketing topics, with a focus on content marketing, editorial strategy and managing a team.
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