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Build or Buy? A Customizable LMS is the Best of Both Worlds

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Barry Kelly
November 21, 2022
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You know you need a robust learning platform for your business, but you’ve run into a crossroads: Should you build a new LMS, or buy one off the shelf? 

This question isn’t simple: do you prioritize the complete customizability and control over new software you build in-house? Or, do you leverage the technology and expertise of a platform that’s ready to go? 

Truthfully, both options have their benefits. But with Thought Industries’ newest technology innovation, you may not have choose. With Helium, our customizable headless LMS solution, you unlock the possibility to achieve the best of both worlds. Read on for more on this “build versus buy” problem. And, learn how Helium allows you not to compromise when it comes to your learning program.

The Benefits of Buying an LMS

It’s important to remember there has been a great deal of technological advancement since the introduction of the LMS. These next-generation improvements are largely the result of real-world successes and failures, bringing two central benefits to the learning organization:

  1. The ability to move to toggle and optimize your pricing and packaging strategy. For example, it should easily support both subscriptions as well as à la carte training sales. 
  2. Opening the door to self-paced learning and video, which are scalable, less costly, and in higher demand.

The LMS should also have built-in advanced tools aimed at increasing learning engagement, ultimately driving the success of your program. Features like satisfaction measurement tools and survey data are key to keeping a pulse on your enterprise training. Let’s look a bit closer at the wealth of features you gain access to when you opt to buy an LMS. 

Enterprise LMS Features the Get the Job Done

The tools that should be resident on the LMS include:

  • Learning paths, or the learner’s roadmap to knowledge, achievement and advancement.
  • Certification tools, which are a reward program, or a motivator to complete a course or series of courses.
  • In-app widgets, giving learners instant access to notifications, information about courses, learning paths, etc.
  • Gamification, such as badging, milestones, or leaderboards to incentivize learners.
  • Communication and engagement tools, which bolster your marketing strategy for reaching learners to expand and deepen learner participation.
  • eCommerce functionality, making training revenue easy to manage, track, and change over time.

The Argument for a Homegrown LMS

With very few exceptions, the time, money, and headaches you’ll save by buying an LMS is much preferable to the cost of building one from scratch. However, many organizations consider a homegrown LMS option because of the higher amount of control and customizability over their program. In these cases, the organization likely has particular branding needs, or they want the learning experience to fit seamlessly into other areas of the business.

It may even seem like a major cost-savings opportunity if you already have a robust engineering team in-house. But, consider this: to handle things like reporting, eCommerce, design, and frequent updates and enhancements, your organization will need to negotiate contracts and dedicate staff to managing those tools and accounts. These kinds of costs can add up. 

How Customizable LMS Solution Helium Solves the “Build Versus Buy” Problem

It’s clear that buying an LMS, rather than building a homegrown platform, is a better option in terms of overall value, time savings, and long-term costs. However, at Thought Industries, we’ve developed a solution that’s the “best of both worlds” offering for organizations struggling with this question. We call it Helium.

With Helium, our headless, customizable LMS, the back-end services are separated from the front-end presentation layer. Ultimately, this means you get a foundational solution with the wealth of features you want from buying an LMS. But, the front-end user experience can be completely overhauled to become what you want it to be.

In short: Helium provides all the support, features, extensibility, and integration tools you need from an LMS, but without any limits or boundaries when it comes to design and making it a highly seamless experience. You get to choose the look and feel, apply your full branding treatment, and connect this new experience where your learners will get the most value out of it. 


If this customizable LMS option sounds like a fit for your organization as you shop for an LMS (or consider building your own), reach out now for a customized demonstration of Helium.

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