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To answer that question, should you build or buy your new or next LMS, first ask, what business are you in?
If employee or internal training is a contributor to your business success (but not your primary business), build or buy is an important question to ask. You’ll find a robust discussion in the post Build vs. Buy: Understanding the Costs of Building Online Learning Technology.
However, if professional or external training is your business, the LMS is the engine of your business success. Whether you build or buy, let’s take a look at some of the functionality you’ll need from the LMS.
It’s important to remember that there has been a great deal of technological advancement since the introduction of the LMS and its use for external training. These next-generation improvements are largely the result of real-world successes and failures. These improvements bring two central benefits to the professional learning organization:
The LMS should also have built-in advanced tools aimed at increasing learning engagement, which has 3 benefits:
The tools that should be resident on the LMS include:
For an in-depth discussion, please reference: 5 Tools to Improve Learner Engagement.
As you start to weigh your options, it's important to think carefully about the budget, business goals, and resources you can allocate towards your LMS project.
With very few exceptions, the time, money, and headaches you'll save by selecting an off-the-shelf (OTS) or customizable learning solution is much preferable to the cost of building an LMS from scratch.
If your organization needs an LMS with the advances and tools just discussed, developing an LMS is going to require a great deal of staff, money and time. To handle things like reporting, eCommerce, and design and frequent updates and enhancements, your organization will need to negotiate contracts and then dedicate staff to managing those tools and accounts.
These kinds of costs can add up. Here are some things to consider about building before you forgo the idea of buying:
Let’s do a quick SWOT analysis on each scenario, build and buy, and then make some reasonable conclusions about how to arrive at an LMS decision.
To quote from the post, How to Assess Your External Training Business, The SWOT analysis as a process that is both easy to implement and produces actionable results. It is designed to help a corporation identify the S=strengths, W=weaknesses, O=opportunities and T=threats regarding a specific tactic or project.
The SWOT exercises in this post are high-level and are just identifying some of the top, most compelling views.
What would you add?
What would you add?
In this case, the scales appear to be heavily weighted on the “buy” side. The costs, and the inherent risks of building and maintaining an LMS for external training are daunting.
Adopting an off-the-shelf LMS offers an all-in-one solution. No extra drain on resources and minimal 3rd party tools. This might be a better solution for your professional learning business. But before you decide, take a deep dive into this process.
Download this free guide to help you identify and prioritize the software features you'll need to maximize the success of your online external training experience.