Successful LMS Implementation: How to Launch Online Training and Not Get Fired

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How to Launch Online Training

So, you’ve decided to implement a learning management system (LMS). You’ve researched this matter and are pretty sure it will benefit your business. And it certainly might. Like it might turn out to be a waste of money and get you fired. The outcome depends on the implementation process.

To help you launch online training successfully, we talked to Michael Keller, the L&D Manager at iSpring. Michael has helped 556 companies in the Large Enterprise and SMB sectors implement iSpring Learn LMS. His experience gives him precise knowledge of what needs to be done and why, in which order, and what you must NOT do by any means.

We’ve also prepared a free package of resources you’ll need for your project. It includes an LMS implementation plan template, a collection of guides and checklists, and a presentation template for pitching the LMS project to your executives. You can download this package for free.

A real-life story: How an L&D team almost got fired

A company decided to launch online training. The L&D team was lucky to have most of the executive staff on board with the LMS project and even excited about it. They were given carte blanche to use any amount of money and time. So, they did just that.

They meticulously researched a great number of LMS options. Booked their demos and free trials. Questioned vendors about the smallest nuances. They wanted to pick the very best-fitting, perfect training platform. After almost two months, they decided to go with the iSpring Learn LMS.

Our LMS comes with iSpring Suite, an authoring tool for creating interactive online courses. So, as soon as they activated their LMS account and installed Suite, they got to work and started developing training programs.

Six months later, everything was ready. 30 beautiful courses for various training scenarios. Excitement was in the air. Champagne was selected, bought, and placed on the shelf. The launch day was coming.

They assembled before the computer with an opened email announcing the launch of an LMS. 3, 2, 1… the email was sent to the entire staff. They popped the cork and made a toast.

It was done.

After a week and even a month, they still felt enthusiastic about the project. It has to work out. How could it not? They did everything to reach perfection.

But soon something became shockingly obvious. Employees didn’t share their excitement. Almost nobody took any training courses. A year of their work and colossal business investments went down the drain.

They had screwed up completely.

The L&D team strikes back

They were lucky enough to be given a second chance. This time they decided to talk to stakeholders first to identify what the business actually needed from training – what gap it was to fill.

It turned out to be onboarding at the sales department. New hires were taking too long to become productive. So, the team developed an onboarding program that trained novices on the basics of sales, company products, effective techniques, etc.

Senior sales reps ignored it at first. They were confident that their experience had taught them everything they needed to know. However, soon new hires started showing incredible results and even outperformed the oldies.

Of course, experienced professionals were stung by this. To tackle this injustice, they logged into the platform and began to take the training courses, increasing completion at the department to almost 100%.

Now, our client is deploying more and more training projects, incorporating a blended learning approach, and experimenting with other ways to make training even more effective.

Not everyone will be so lucky to get the opportunity to learn through their own mistakes, so in this article, we’ll tell you how to do everything right from the very start.

You Against the Entire World

Or the whole company at least. The first thing you need to consider before implementing an LMS is that literally everyone wants (and expects) you to screw up. Why? They all have their own reasons.

Senior staff believe they know everything there is to know about their roles, so they don’t need any training.

Department managers and supervisors either don’t realize the value of training or don’t believe in it. They think training is a waste of time and will damage their KPIs.

And your colleagues from HR or project managers simply want your budget. If you get burned on your online training project, they’ll get more resources for their initiatives.

Nothing personal. Most people are opposed to anything new by their very nature. However, without their support, you won’t be able to achieve great results. That’s why you need to sell your online training project to all of them.

Take this free course to learn how to engage employees and get them to help you deploy an LMS successfully:

This course was created with iSpring Suite.

Selling the value of online training to your company’s staff is vital. So, we strongly advise you to complete this course before you start the LMS implementation process. Feel free to do this now, right after reading this article, or bookmark the page to return to it later.

10 Steps to Implement an LMS in Your Company

This guide was developed for L&D directors or other specialists who are responsible for delivering the entire training project from the very start to the very end.

If you’re a project manager who needs to develop an LMS implementation plan with estimated timelines, you can go straight to Step 3. And feel free to download this LMS implementation project plan template and customize it to your case.

Step 1. Set training goals together with stakeholders

Estimated time: 2 days

Figure out exactly why you implement an LMS. What results do stakeholders expect from training? General answers like “to increase sales” or “to improve employees’ qualifications” won’t do.

Ask department managers and executives precisely which business metrics you need to improve with training and how much. For example, a training goal for a retail company can be “To sell 20% more items.”

Step 2. Identify training needs

Estimated time: 1-2 weeks

Learners and their supervisors are also your stakeholders. However, with them, you identify training needs rather than goals. Talk to your future learners. Ask them what knowledge and skills they currently lack. Make it informal, because a formal survey is likely to give you false training needs – most employees will be afraid that if they admit they don’t know something, they’ll get fired or reprimanded. So, have an honest conversation with them and identify training needs.

For example, a checkout clerk can say they don’t know how to present items so a person will buy them. Or they could say they don’t see why they need to offer these items to customers. They might say, for instance, “If they want a chocolate bar, they’ll buy a chocolate bar. I’ll only irritate them if I offer them something they don’t want.”

Do you see how different your training needs are based on these two answers? In the first case, you need to assign a person a role-play simulation where they can learn and practice selling techniques. In the second, you might need to assign a course on customer psychology or how selling rates affect this person’s salary.

If you don’t collect feedback from your future learners, you’ll never be sure what exactly they need to learn to achieve business goals. So, yes, this might take some time, but it’s definitely worthwhile and needs to be done.

Step 3. Establish an LMS implementation plan and timeline

Estimated time: 2 days

Having a plan is always a good idea – especially if business executives have some doubts about your training project and keep a close eye on you. An illustrative LMS implementation plan with timelines will give them a general idea of the stages and duration of a project.

Use this guide as a starting point or download this customizable LMS implementation plan template.

Step 4. Assign roles to your team members

Estimated time: 2 days

Many people recommend starting the LMS implementation process by assembling the project team. Michael Keller argues that this isn’t sensible. More often, a single person has to do most of the work due to the size and budget of a company. And even if there’s a team, it usually consists of people who already work in the company and don’t specialize in online training.

That’s why the advice to bring in an eLearning specialist, an instructional designer, and such, is a bit idealistic. If you don’t have a few thousand spare dollars in your training budget, prepare to launch the LMS on your own.

Here are the questions you need to answer at this point:

Who will create training content?

Training content, especially at the start, doesn’t have to be a work of art. Yet it must be informative, effective, and preferably good-looking. If you have no experience whatsoever designing online courses, consider getting some training. Or at least dive into this subject through comprehensive articles and videos.

Feel free to take the course, “How to Create an Interactive Online Course,” developed by Ann Poli, Senior Instructional Designer at iSpring. It will give you all the essentials you need to create training programs that will bring your business great results and engage learners.

Who will administer the LMS?

All LMSs automate training to some degree, but there are still many tasks that need human involvement. If you have a complicated platform, you need a tech-savvy LMS administrator able to master it and quickly fix issues that arise.

With some vendors, like iSpring, tech-savviness isn’t compulsory. The platform is extremely intuitive, and there’s tech support who’ll help you 24/7. Plus, if you want to perfect and certify your LMS administration skills, you can always enroll in the certification program.

An important thing to mention here is that it’s best to involve several people in administering the platform. This might not be relevant for the launch, but in time, your training will grow bigger and stronger. And managing it in every department all on your own will not only be difficult, but ineffective. Delegating this task to team supervisors will work best for everyone.

For example, iSpring Learn is one of the few platforms that has a supervisor dashboard feature. It enables supervisors to monitor the training of their team, see their progress, check their home assignments, and more. To activate it, you only need to set a parameter in your LMS and explain to supervisors how to use it.

A supervisor dashboard works both in desktop and mobile versions of iSpring Learn.

Who will support users?

Finally, you need to decide who is going to answer employees’ questions regarding the LMS. There will always be those who forget their password or have trouble finding and downloading an LMS’s mobile app, etc. Who should they contact?

A calm, patient, altruistic person would be perfect for this role. If you’re short on people with such a profile, at least create emailable instructions for the most frequently asked questions. And suggest that your employer should pay for your weekly therapy. Just kidding. Or not.

Optional Step: Launch a pilot project with a focus group

Estimated time: 1 week

If you haven’t purchased an LMS yet and would like to make sure the option you’ve chosen is actually what you need, you can run a test project and see the platform in action. Many LMS vendors offer a free trial of varying durations. Even if it’s quite short, like 14 days, you’ll have enough time to test-drive the solution and assess it.

What to pay attention to:

  • Does the platform fit your training goals and needs?
  • Is it easy to use? (If not, everything will get more complicated, from involving supervisors in training management to making learning experiences engaging.)
  • Does the vendor provide support, or are you left all on your own?
  • Do you enjoy working on this platform?

In general, you simply need to see what the LMS really is and feels like. Hopefully, this is the solution that stays with you for years to come. So, make sure you like it, that it has the functions you need, and that the vendor is a good partner for a long journey.

iSpring Learn LMS

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Step 5. Develop training content

Estimated time: 1-3 weeks (or more)

This is a tricky stage. Many aspiring L&D specialists who implement an LMS for the first time get caught in a trap here: they think they need many courses from the very start. You saw how that ends up earlier in the article.

You only need one course when you start. And keep it simple.

Later, you’ll have the time and opportunity to create sophisticated training programs with unique learning paths for each role and incorporate all the other wonders of the eLearning world. But now you need to prove that training actually works. And you only have one shot.

To create an effective online course, follow these steps:

  • Identify your target audience and their training needs
  • Collect insights from subject matter experts (SMEs)
  • Create a course outline
  • Write a course script
  • Design a draft course with an authoring tool
  • Show the course to a focus group
  • Make adjustments based on feedback
  • Publish the final version of the course to your LMS

To dive deeper into training content development, check out our step-by-step guide on how to create an online eLearning course.

Step 6. Announce the launch of an LMS

Estimated time: 2 days

Not an obvious step that’s so often overlooked, yet genuinely vital for a successful launch. You need to announce your implementation project to the entire company. Otherwise, employees might not even know about it, and the project will fail.

How do you make the announcement? The same way you announce any big news in your company. For some, it’s a general meeting. For others, it’s just a general email announcement. It would be perfect if you could use all available channels.

Send the news through the CEO, someone from top management, and/or team leaders. Receiving the news from leaders has a great impact on people. If they see that a particular project is important to a CEO or their immediate supervisor, they’ll realize that they can’t avoid it (rest assured, they’d love that more than anything). And the CEO is definitely interested in this project. Effective training will enable them to transform the business, increase profit, improve the HR brand, and much more.

Please note: Tell employees about the mobile app and make sure they download it. Many employees don’t work with computers. So, when they hear that you’ll be assigning them courses, some (our experience is many) may not understand how this is going to work. Explain that they can train using their smartphones and tablets – even when offline.

We’ve given this step 2 days because we advise you to work it out really well. Here are some recommendations for what you need to do:

  • Make the announcement at least 30 days before the launch – let this sink in
  • Ask business executives to announce the launch of the training project
  • Ask department managers, team leaders, and other respected employees to do the same
  • Tell your learners about the LMS’s mobile app
  • Give out or email instructions on logging into the system and the mobile app
  • Provide staff with your contact info (or someone responsible for supporting LMS users)
  • Repeat the announcement several times

Step 7. Set up your LMS

Estimated time: 1-3 days

The best thing about setting up your LMS is that you only need to do this once. You might need to change some settings further on, but most of them will remain intact. With that in mind, we have to admit that this is quite a tiresome stage – fairly complicated for those without strong tech skills.

But it’s not an issue if you have iSpring Learn. We have a customer success team and tech support staff who will guide you through and help with everything. But if you use an LMS from a different vendor, you’ll have to cope on your own somehow.

Here’s a list of what you should do at this point. It’s preferable to set all (or at least most of) the parameters mentioned below, although it’s not a strict rule. For example, customizing your platform to align with your brand identity would be good, but keeping a standard look of an LMS is also okay.

  • Set up or synchronize your interactive organization structure
  • Add user data or integrate the LMS with your HR system
  • Assign admin roles to LMS administrators
  • Assign supervisor roles to team leaders and managers who will supervise training in their team or department
  • Customize your LMS to match your brand identity (add a logo, change colors, and write unique notifications)
  • Explain to LMS administrators and supervisors how to work with the platform
  • Integrate the platform with your website or corporate portal
  • Set up Single Sign-On (SSO)
  • Integrate the platform with MS Outlook
  • Integrate the platform with Zoom or MS Teams if you plan to conduct webinars

Step 8. Assign a course with a deadline

Estimated time: 1-2 weeks

If you use iSpring Learn, simply select a group of users who need to complete training. The platform will notify them of the assignment and its deadline. Not all training programs need a deadline, but your very first course must have one. You need to present the results of your LMS implementation as soon as possible and the results should be persuasive. So, you need to get learners to take the training without fail.

Step 9. Check the current completion rate of your training

Estimated time: 1 week

A few days or a week after you’ve assigned a course to your learners, check to see how many of them have completed it. iSpring Learn will show you both a general report with an average completion rate and individual progress reports on each employee.

Progress reports in iSpring Learn

If some people have not yet completed or even started training, contact them to find out why. If they have tech issues, help them solve those. But a much more common case is employees’ resistance to training. Try to get them to realize the value of this course, or at least give it a chance. Involve team leaders if necessary.

A 100% completion rate is the result you’re looking for. But even if it’s lower, don’t let that bother you. It’s just an issue you need to work on. Identify its causes and come up with solutions.

For example, some employees might not take the course because their supervisor said it’s not obligatory. This means either that a supervisor was misinformed or that you didn’t succeed at selling training to them. Talk to them and fix this.

Step 10. Evaluate the results of your training

Estimated time: 1 day

This is it. You’ve implemented the LMS and now only need to show the results to the executives. Announce the training goals you identified earlier, the training solution you’ve developed in order to achieve them, and present the overall training completion rate. Then ask stakeholders how training affected business goals. Discuss the results.

For example, your goal was to help employees sell 20% more items at the checkout. Based on the employees’ feedback, you came to the conclusion that they just didn’t know how to offer the items so customers would buy them. So, you’ve developed a training program on selling techniques with a role-play simulation. 80% of checkout staff completed the training. And their department manager said that sales increased by 35% after training. Goal achieved (even better than expected).

But what if you didn’t manage to reach the training goals? For example, what if the selling rate increased by only 10%? Look deeper into the results. If your overall completion rate is pretty low, say, somewhat around 30-40%, see exactly who completed the training and how well, and who didn’t. Then compare these results with data from the store. You’ll discover that those employees who took the course did increase their KPIs, but since most of their colleagues ignored training, the overall performance didn’t improve significantly. Show this to their supervisor, and he or she seeing the impact of training, will be more engaged and get their subordinates to take training seriously.

Finally, once you’ve evaluated the current project, it’s time to discuss the next one. Ask stakeholders about subsequent training goals. Now it’s going to be easier because everyone already has an idea of how this works, and most importantly, believes in training effectiveness, meaning they are ready to support it.

Download our free LMS implementation checklist to check off the steps you’ve already taken and see the ones you still need to take.

Achieve the results in 30 days with iSpring Learn for free

Starting from Step 5, you’ll need an LMS and an authoring tool. You don’t have to purchase them right away – try them for free and see the results before you spend anything.

Our 30-day free trial is enough time for you to develop a course, assign it to learners, evaluate the results, and decide whether our platform is the right fit for you. And with the real-life effect of training at hand, it will be much easier for you to get the executives’ support for your project.

Use iSpring Learn for 30 days for free →

4 Things You Must NOT Do When Implementing an LMS

Now that you know what you should do to implement a training platform successfully, let’s see what you mustn’t do.

1. Teach an old dog new tricks

Starting corporate training with experienced employees is risky. Hopeless actually. You will never make them take training. They are simply not used to it – they’ve been working somehow for all these years without it, right? However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t train them at all. Just use a smarter approach.

In the beginning, focus on those who need training the most and don’t resist it. New hires. These are desperate to learn and upskill. And once they start growing and succeeding in their roles, senior staff will follow.

Because if there’s one thing they can’t stand more than some newfangled nonsense a company came up with, it’s watching inexperienced subordinates doing the job better than them.

2. Add, edit, and delete user data manually

If you do this, you’re bound to make a mistake eventually. For example, you might forget to delete a former employee from the platform, and they will thus have access to confidential information when they shouldn’t. That’s why you need to set up an automatic data exchange between your LMS and HR system. 

Moreover, such things simply have to be automated in the 21st century – you, a human, have more worthwhile tasks to invest your time and energy in.

3. Conduct attestation and other knowledge assessments

Many L&D managers want to start their online training with tests. This makes sense. Tests are the easiest way to identify knowledge gaps. Based on them, you can formulate training needs and move on to content development.

There’s only one issue. This will make employees hate the LMS and training in general. They will see these tests as a threat. Many will think that, based on test results, the company will fire the least competent employees, and so on. So, talk to people instead to determine training needs.

4. Set the main goal as developing people

Like in Silicon Valley, every IT start-up said its mission was “to make the world a better place,” and so do many L&D managers, instructional designers, and other eLearning specialists say their goal is to help people grow. No, it’s not. Your main goal is to help the business grow.

So, your training should address particular business metrics. And you will conduct the final evaluation based on how well training improved these. Not how enlightened and wise John Smith from some department is now.

At the same time, these factors are indeed connected. You do develop people, but not for the sake of it.

LMS Implementation Tips and Tricks

Our clients shared a few life hacks that helped them engage employees and launch training in their companies. Here’s what they advise:

Get the CEO to announce the launch of online training

If the main person of the company says that training is important, everyone understands right away that they have to take it seriously. That’s exactly what you need at the start.

Invite employees to check out an interactive organization chart in your LMS

At the start, you need to get all employees to simply log on to the LMS to check if everything’s working, if they found their login details, installed the mobile app, etc. Some LMSs, like iSpring Learn, have a built-in interactive organizational chart that you can customize to your company. And people love it – they’ll come to the platform just to see it.

Organizational Chart in iSpring Learn

Make character images featuring well-known employees

If people trust a particular specialist in your company, you can take photos of them and use them in your courses. This will give training more credibility and increase its effectiveness.

A role-play created with iSpring Suite

Feel free to create such role-play simulations with iSpring Suite. It’s easier than you might think.

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Text employees instructions on how to log in to the LMS and the mobile app

A smartphone is something everyone has. And an SMS is a thing that everyone will read. So, to make sure all employees will receive instructions and read them, just text them. If you have an Infobip account and iSpring Learn, this will be extremely easy. Just customize the text, and the platform will send it to the entire team (or a particular group, if necessary).

A Surefire Way to Implement an LMS Successfully

We know how difficult the implementation process can be, and how much it affects the success of corporate online training. That’s why we created customer success teams. They support iSpring Learn clients all the way through and help them achieve their training goals.

Customer success teams come as a bonus to every iSpring Learn client. Book a free live demo with one of our specialists, and they’ll dive into your project specifics and come up with the most suitable solution.