Making Your Own LMS?


Some organizations entertain the idea of creating their own in-house Learning Management System (LMS).  Undoubtedly, they are intrigued with the potential low cost and thoughts of having just what they want or need, designed just for them.  This do-it-yourself approach may appear, at least superficially, easily achieved, but the project itself is fraught with unexpected pitfalls and risk.  Let’s look at this endeavor from a different, straightforward view.  Total cost of ownership (TCO) for home-grown LMS systems is elusive at best, quality often becomes inferior and future proofing is non-existent.


Generally speaking, an LMS is a specialized and sophisticated enterprise software application, usually with built-in course creation tools and a multitude of management features for the learners and administrators, including content files and extensive tracking capabilities.  Course creation tools provide many options due to the different types of training applications and preferred methods for teaching and testing.  Home grown systems typically embrace one way of doing things with few alternatives, leaving training administrators at the mercy of their IT professionals. This rigid end-product easily stunts creativity with course creation and the managerial process.  As many people are impacted by any broadly deployed LMS, ask yourself, “Does my IT department have a strong track record in developing enterprise-wide software applications, and does it have the collaborative and e-Learning technology expertise to guide me down the right paths?”


Software development cost is almost always under-estimated.  In the “old days” of software development, people often recommended tripling cost estimates of those given by programmers for creating software. Creating a highly effective LMS enterprise software from scratch should begin with an extensive needs analysis for most of the organization.  Let’s assume the task force, or individual conducting the needs analysis, has the necessary broad skill set. The key skills for creating an LMS include organizational development, teaching and learning technology expertise and software development project management.  Each additional stage of software development has its own associated cost, including the cost of software bug fixes that most assuredly crop-up over time. Also, if you expect your new enterprise application to remain up-to-date, make sure to include the cost for your team to track and plan for on-going improvements and upgrades. Technology is a competitive differentiator, and you certainly want to maintain your edge.


But wait just a minute - there is another option! You can purchase a fully supported, off-the-shelf LMS; one that is mature, cost efficient, and proven effective across small or large enterprises.  Target a system with the broadest matching application, one that reaches the furthest, vertically and horizontally, through your organization and distribution model.  Consider a system that allows “choice in skill sets” for content creation so it accommodates the flexibility of an ever changing staff. 


The off-the-shelf LMS vendor can offer the most up-to-date, and integrated features to improve your productivity and maximize your return on investment.  This future-proofing is built-in to the overall cost.  Total cost of ownership (TCO) of a packaged LMS is calculably fixed with high quality and dependability.  An off-the-shelf LMS is one of the very best technology investments you can make.



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