10 Questions to Ask Before Buying an LMS for Your eLearning Programs

Choosing the right LMS for your eLearning programs is crucial. This blog outlines 10 key questions to ask before making a purchase, ensuring that you select a platform that aligns with your needs and goals.

Mar 2024


Imagine you've poured your heart and soul into creating a fantastic eLearning program. It's packed with valuable information, engaging activities, and the potential to truly transform your learners' skills and knowledge. But then, disaster strikes! You choose the wrong platform to deliver your program, one that's clunky, confusing, and leaves your learners frustrated. Suddenly, all that hard work goes to waste.

This scenario is all too common.  The key to success in the world of eLearning is choosing the right Learning Management System (LMS). An LMS is essentially a software platform that acts as the backbone of your eLearning program.  It's where your learners will access course materials, complete assessments, and track their progress.  With so much riding on your LMS choice,  asking the right questions upfront can make all the difference.  By taking the time to carefully consider your needs and the capabilities of different LMS options, you can ensure a smooth and successful eLearning experience for everyone involved.

Why Asking the Right Questions Before Buying an LMS Matters

Choosing the right Learning Management System (LMS) for your eLearning programs can make all the difference.  Think of an LMS as the digital hub for your training initiatives. It's where you'll house your course materials, track learner progress, and hopefully, see a boost in knowledge and skill development. But just like picking the wrong tool for a home improvement project can lead to frustration and wasted effort, selecting the wrong LMS can have a negative impact on your eLearning programs.

Here's why asking the right questions upfront is crucial:

Wasted Investment:  LMS platforms can range in price and complexity. Choosing one that doesn't fit your specific needs can be a costly mistake. Imagine buying a powerful industrial saw when all you need is a handsaw for a few small projects. Not only will the industrial saw be much more expensive, but it might be overkill for the job at hand. Similarly, an LMS with features you'll never use might drain your budget without delivering the desired results.

Frustrated Learners:  A clunky or confusing LMS can quickly turn learners off. Imagine trying to take an online course on a platform that's slow, difficult to navigate, or lacks mobile compatibility. Learners who have a negative experience are less likely to complete the course or retain the information. A well-chosen LMS, on the other hand, should be user-friendly and engaging, keeping learners motivated and on track.

Unmet Training Goals:  Every eLearning program has specific goals, whether it's teaching new skills, ensuring compliance with regulations, or promoting knowledge retention.  The wrong LMS could hinder your ability to achieve these goals.  For example, if your LMS lacks reporting features, you won't be able to track learner progress or identify areas where they might need additional support.  By asking the right questions about features and functionality, you can ensure the LMS has the tools you need to deliver effective training that meets your specific objectives.

By taking the time to ask the right questions before investing in an LMS, you can avoid these pitfalls and set your eLearning programs up for success. It's all about choosing the right tool for the job, ensuring a smooth learning experience, and ultimately achieving your training goals.

Key Questions to Ask

1. What Are My Specific Needs?

Choosing the right LMS (Learning Management System) for your eLearning programs is like picking the perfect toolbox for a specific project. You wouldn't use a tiny screwdriver set to build a bookshelf, right?  The same goes for your LMS.  Before you jump in and start comparing fancy features, it's crucial to take a step back and identify your exact eLearning needs.

What are you hoping to achieve with your eLearning programs?  Are you aiming to train new employees on company policies and procedures?  Maybe you want to upskill your existing workforce on new software or industry regulations.  Perhaps you're creating educational content for a wider audience, like customers or partners.  Knowing your goals will help you determine the specific features you need in an LMS.

For example, if your focus is on onboarding new hires, having features like automated enrollment workflows and progress tracking would be essential.  On the other hand, if you're creating complex learning paths for ongoing skill development, you might prioritize features like built-in authoring tools for creating interactive content or gamification elements to boost learner engagement.  By clearly defining your eLearning needs upfront, you'll be well on your way to selecting an LMS that perfectly aligns with your goals and helps you achieve training success.

2. Is the LMS User-Friendly?

Imagine this: You've invested a significant amount of time and resources into creating a fantastic eLearning program. The content is engaging, informative, and perfectly tailored to your learners' needs.  But then, disaster strikes!  Your learners can't figure out how to access the program, navigate the interface, or even find the specific courses they need.  Meanwhile, your administrators are struggling to upload content, track progress, and generate reports - tasks that should be simple and efficient.

This scenario is all too common when companies choose an LMS (Learning Management System) that's not user-friendly. Usability is absolutely crucial for the success of your eLearning program, and it's an essential factor to consider before you buy. Here's why:

  • Learner Engagement: A complex and confusing LMS can quickly kill learner motivation. If learners find it difficult to navigate the platform, access courses, or complete assignments, they're more likely to abandon the program altogether. A user-friendly LMS, on the other hand, makes learning effortless and enjoyable. Learners can easily find the courses they need, track their progress, and stay engaged with the material.
  • Administrator Efficiency: Your administrators are busy people! They shouldn't have to waste time wrestling with a clunky LMS. A user-friendly system allows administrators to upload content, manage users, track progress, and generate reports quickly and efficiently. This frees them up to focus on other important tasks, such as developing new training programs and supporting learners.

In short, a user-friendly LMS is essential for both learners and administrators. It creates a positive learning experience for everyone involved, which ultimately leads to a more successful eLearning program.

3. What Support and Training Options Are Available?

Imagine buying a brand new car – it's sleek and packed with features, but you have no idea how to drive it! That's why good customer support and training are crucial when choosing an LMS.

Think about it -  you'll likely need help setting up the LMS, uploading your training materials, and managing user accounts.  Look for an LMS vendor that offers comprehensive support options, such as phone support, email support, and online knowledge bases. Ideally, they should also provide training resources to help your administrators and learners get the most out of the platform.

Here are some specific questions to consider:

  • Does the LMS vendor offer different support tiers (basic, premium, etc.)?
  • Are there additional costs associated with support?
  • Does the support team have experience in your industry?
  • What training resources are available (e.g., webinars, user guides, video tutorials)?
  • Will the training help your team learn how to use the LMS effectively?

By prioritizing good support and training, you'll ensure a smooth LMS implementation and empower your team and learners to use the platform to its full potential.

4. Does the LMS Offer Customization?

Imagine walking into a clothing store where everything is one size fits all. It wouldn't be very comfortable or practical, would it? The same goes for eLearning programs. Learners come with different backgrounds, learning styles, and preferences. A one-size-fits-all approach might leave some learners bored and disengaged, while others might find it overwhelming. This is where customization comes in!

An LMS with strong customization features allows you to tailor your eLearning programs to the specific needs of your learners. Here's how:

  • Learning Paths: Instead of a rigid course structure, you can create personalized learning paths that cater to individual goals and skill levels. Some learners might need a more in-depth exploration of a topic, while others might just need a refresher. A customizable LMS allows you to offer different pathways within the same program.
  • Content Delivery: Learners have different preferred learning styles. Some might grasp concepts best through videos, while others prefer written instructions or interactive exercises. A customizable LMS allows you to incorporate a variety of content formats like videos, images, quizzes, and simulations into your program. This way, learners can engage with the material in a way that works best for them.
  • Accessibility Features: Accessibility is crucial for creating inclusive learning experiences. A customizable LMS should allow you to incorporate features like closed captions for videos, adjustable text size, and screen reader compatibility. This ensures that everyone can access and participate in your eLearning programs.
  • Learner Interface: The way your program looks and feels can significantly impact the learning experience. A customizable LMS allows you to personalize the user interface to match your company branding or the specific theme of your program. Additionally, you can arrange the layout and navigation to make it easy for learners to find what they need.

By offering these customization options, an LMS empowers you to create eLearning programs that are more engaging, effective, and accessible for all your learners. This ultimately leads to better learning outcomes, increased learner satisfaction, and a more positive ROI for your training programs.

5. What Reporting and Analytics Features Are Included?

Imagine this: you've invested time, money, and effort into creating a fantastic eLearning program for your team. But how do you know if it's actually working? Are your learners retaining the information? Are they applying the new skills they've learned on the job? This is where the reporting and analytics features of your LMS (Learning Management System) come into play.

Think of these features as a window into the success of your eLearning programs. They allow you to track learner progress, identify areas where learners might be struggling, and measure the overall effectiveness of your training materials. This information is crucial for making informed decisions about your eLearning strategy.

For example, with good reporting tools, you can see how many learners have completed a specific course, how long it took them to finish, and their scores on quizzes and assessments. This data can help you identify any particularly challenging sections of the course or areas where learners may need additional support. Additionally, analytics can show you how well your training programs are impacting overall business goals. Did your customer education program lead to a decrease in customer complaints? Did your sales training result in a boost in revenue? By tracking these metrics, you can demonstrate the real value of your eLearning programs and justify your investment.

So, when choosing an LMS, be sure to ask about the reporting and analytics features it offers. Look for a system that provides detailed reports that are easy to understand and customize. You'll also want to make sure the LMS integrates seamlessly with your existing learning systems, so data can be collected and analyzed efficiently. By investing in an LMS with robust reporting and analytics capabilities, you can gain valuable insights that will help you optimize your eLearning programs and ensure they're delivering the results you need.

6. Is the LMS Scalable?

Imagine you've invested time and resources into setting up your eLearning program with a brand new LMS (Learning Management System). Everything seems perfect – it meets your current needs, your learners are engaged, and your training runs smoothly. But then, your business starts to boom! You hire new employees, expand to new locations, or offer additional eLearning courses. Suddenly, your current LMS feels cramped and can't keep up with your growing needs. This is where scalability comes in.

Think of scalability as the LMS's ability to adapt and grow alongside your eLearning program. A scalable LMS can handle an increasing number of learners, new courses, and even additional features you might need in the future. Here's why it's crucial to consider scalability before buying an LMS:

  • Future-Proofing Your Investment: Choosing a scalable LMS saves you the hassle and cost of switching platforms later. You can be confident that your LMS can adapt to your company's growth and changing training needs.
  • Flexibility and Efficiency: Scalable LMS platforms are often designed to be flexible. They can accommodate a wider range of content formats, user roles (like administrators, instructors, and learners), and learning activities. This allows you to deliver a more diverse and engaging learning experience for your growing audience.
  • Streamlined Administration: As your learner base expands, managing your LMS efficiently becomes even more important. A scalable LMS should offer features that simplify administration tasks, such as automated user provisioning, bulk course assignments, and robust reporting tools.

Don't get caught in a situation where your LMS hinders your eLearning program's growth. By asking about scalability during the LMS selection process, you're ensuring a platform that can support your long-term training goals and adapt to your company's success.

7. What Integration Options Are Available?

Imagine having all your training data and tools in one convenient location. That's the power of LMS integration! When choosing an LMS, consider how well it integrates with the other systems you already use. This can save you a lot of time and effort down the line.

Here's why integration matters:

  • Streamlined learner experience: Imagine a seamless experience for your trainees. With LMS integration, learners can log in to the LMS using the same credentials they use for other company systems, like their email or intranet login. This eliminates the need to remember multiple passwords and makes accessing training materials a breeze.
  • Simplified data management: Stop juggling data between different platforms! LMS integration allows you to transfer information, like learner progress and completion records, between the LMS and other systems. This eliminates the risk of errors caused by manual data entry and ensures everyone has access to the most up-to-date information.
  • Enhanced reporting and analytics: Get a clearer picture of your training effectiveness. Integration with other systems, like performance management tools, can provide valuable insights into how training translates to employee performance. This allows you to identify areas for improvement and tailor your training programs for better results.
  • Reduced administrative burden: Free up your time for more strategic tasks! Integrations can automate tasks like user provisioning and permission management. This reduces the manual workload for your IT team and allows them to focus on more critical tasks.

Here are some key questions to ask potential LMS vendors about integration:

  • Does the LMS integrate with popular learning tools and platforms (e.g., SCORM compliance)?
  • Can the LMS integrate with your existing systems (e.g., HRIS, CRM)?
  • Does the vendor offer custom integration options?
  • How easy is it to set up and manage integrations?

By considering these factors, you can choose an LMS that seamlessly integrates with your existing tools and workflows, creating a more efficient and effective learning environment for everyone.

8. What is the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)?

While the initial purchase price of an LMS (Learning Management System) might seem like the biggest financial hurdle, it's important to look beyond that number. The true cost of owning and operating an LMS is called the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).  TCO takes into account all the expenses associated with your LMS, not just the initial price tag.

Here's why considering TCO is crucial: Imagine finding an LMS with a fantastic price tag, only to discover later that it requires expensive customization or ongoing maintenance fees that drain your budget. To avoid this scenario,  understanding TCO empowers you to make informed decisions and choose an LMS that fits your long-term financial goals.

So, what exactly contributes to the TCO of an LMS? Here are some key factors to consider:

  • Implementation Costs: Setting up your LMS often involves additional costs beyond the software itself. This might include data migration fees, configuration charges, or training for administrators and learners.
  • Customization Costs: Some LMS platforms offer basic features, while others require customization to fit your specific needs. These customizations can range from simple tweaks to the user interface to complex integrations with your existing systems. Be sure to factor in potential customization costs when evaluating an LMS.
  • Integration Costs: If you plan to connect your LMS with other learning systems like course authoring tools or HR software, there might be additional integration fees involved.
  • Maintenance and Support Fees: Most LMS vendors offer ongoing maintenance and support services. These services ensure your LMS stays up-to-date with security patches and bug fixes. While some vendors include basic support in their pricing, others might charge extra for premium support options.
  • Training Costs: Some LMS platforms are more user-friendly than others. Depending on the complexity of your chosen LMS, you might need to invest in additional training materials or workshops for your administrators and learners.

By carefully considering these factors, you can get a clearer picture of the total cost of ownership for an LMS. Remember, the cheapest option upfront might not always be the most cost-effective in the long run. Choose an LMS that offers a balance between affordability and the features you need to achieve your eLearning goals.

9. Is the LMS Mobile-Friendly?

In today's world, where smartphones and tablets are practically glued to our hands, ensuring your eLearning program is mobile-friendly is no longer optional, it's essential. Here's why:

  • Accessibility: Learners can access their training materials anytime, anywhere. This is especially beneficial for busy professionals who might only have short pockets of time for learning throughout the day. Imagine being able to squeeze in a quick training module during your commute or lunch break – a mobile-friendly LMS makes this possible.
  • Increased Engagement: Studies show that learners are more likely to complete training when they can access it on their mobile devices. The convenience factor removes barriers and encourages learners to engage with the material in bite-sized chunks, making the learning process less daunting.
  • Improved Knowledge Retention: Microlearning, delivered through mobile-friendly modules, allows learners to revisit key points and refresh their knowledge on the go. This spaced repetition reinforces learning and improves information retention compared to traditional, long-form training sessions.
  • Catering to Different Learning Styles: Not everyone learns the same way. Some learners prefer shorter, on-the-go learning experiences that a mobile LMS provides. By offering mobile compatibility, you cater to diverse learning styles and ensure everyone can access the training effectively.

By choosing a mobile-friendly LMS, you're essentially making your eLearning program more accessible, engaging, and effective for your learners in the mobile age. Remember, a happy and engaged learner is a learner who's more likely to retain information and successfully complete your training program.

10. What Do Reviews and References Say?

Before you invest in a new LMS (Learning Management System), it's crucial to dig a little deeper and see what other users have to say about their experience.  Think of online reviews like word-of-mouth recommendations for restaurants -  they offer valuable insights you might not get from a sales pitch. Here's how researching reviews and references can help you make an informed decision:

Unbiased Feedback: Reviews often provide a more honest perspective than vendor marketing materials. Satisfied users might rave about the system's ease of use or helpful customer support, while frustrated users could highlight technical glitches or clunky interfaces.
Identify Potential Issues: Reviews can be a treasure trove for uncovering potential problems. For instance, you might discover frequent complaints about limited mobile functionality, a confusing course creation process, or a lack of integration with other tools you use.

Find Strengths You Might Miss: Conversely, reviews can also highlight strengths you might not have considered. Users might praise the platform's intuitive design, engaging learning features, or exceptional customer service, giving you a well-rounded picture of the LMS.

Taking things a step further, consider reaching out to existing users directly. Many LMS vendors will provide you with references, allowing you to have candid conversations about their experience. Ask them about specific features, the overall user experience for learners and administrators, and how well the LMS has helped them achieve their training goals. Remember, talking to real users can give you a sense of the LMS's true capabilities and potential fit within your organization.


Choosing the right LMS is an investment in the future of your eLearning programs. By carefully considering these 10 questions before you buy LMS software, you'll be well on your way to selecting an LMS that empowers your learners, streamlines training delivery, and ultimately helps you achieve your learning objectives.

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