The importance of training employees is not lost on any corporations. According to a study by Association for Talent Development (ATD) in which over 2,500 companies participated, those with Learning and Development (L&D) programs have 24% higher profit margins, 218% higher revenue per employee and a 6% higher shareholder return compared to companies that don’t. And according to a recent forecast, the market of corporate Learning Management Systems is set to grow from being a $2.55 billion market in 2013 to a $7.83 billion market in 2018, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 25.2%.
Ben Horowitz in his book The Hard Thing About Hard Things recollects a quote by Intel’s Co-Founder Andrew S. Grove in his management classic High Output Management which gives the numbers on why training is important
“Training is, quite simply, one of the highest-leverage activities a manager can perform. Consider for a moment the possibility of your putting on a series of four lectures for members of your department. Let’s count on three hours of preparation for each hour of course time – twelve hours of work in total. Say that you have ten students in your class. Next year they will work a total of about twenty thousand hours for your organization. If your training efforts result in a 1 percent improvement in your subordinates’ performance, your company will gain the equivalent of two hundreds hour of work as a result of the expenditure of your twelve hours.”
So yes, employee training is important, but the continuous and active development of open source Learning Management System platforms like Moodle have shifted the way corporations look at employee training. These platforms come with an extensive set of features like reporting, progress tracking, digital certificates, gamification etc. to name a few. Management can view reports of real-time progress and identify bottlenecks at the click of a button as opposed to the traditional training methods, which according to another study by ATD, involves significant spending on external training resources.
Most of these open source Learning Management System platforms though follow the teacher-student-class model geared more towards academic applications. Use of these platforms for corporate training brings with it its own set of challenges. Corporate LMS requirements are unique compared to the regular Academic focused Learning Management System requirements. Corporate Learning Management Systems should be able to provide focused and macro level insights into the employees training programs.
Some of the most important requirements, that are unique to corporate LMS are listed below:
- Data interoperability.
Corporate LMS should have good exporting and importing capabilities in various industry standard data formats. This is essential because data in Corporate LMS rarely reside only within the system. Data from these systems might be used in other IT software within the enterprise like an ERP or IT software in other departments like HR or Accounting.
- Single sign-on.
Enterprises usually have multiple portals and logins for their employees as part of their day to day work activities which are in turn usually tied together using Single Sign On. Corporate LMS should integrate seamlessly with Single Sign On systems like LDAP, SAML or Active Directory to enable effortless unified access to the enterprise’s IT infrastructure.
- Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).
Enterprises often have existing IT infrastructure, either proprietary, open source or built in-house to manage various business processes. Corporate LMS should be able to fully integrate with these systems using standard APIs like REST etc. when and where required to enable automation in workflows and help in better decision making.
Enterprises use either popular cloud hosting providers like AWS or have an in-house data center based on their specific hosting requirements. SaaS based solutions have also been gaining popularity. Corporate LMS solutions should be flexible enough to allow easy deployment irrespective of the hosting infrastructure to allow for scalability and future upgrades (e.g. moving the hosting from cloud based to an in-house data center).
- Instructor-Led Training (ILT).
In case of an enterprise spread across different geographical regions, moving employees or trainers around different corporate campuses or conference halls can be prohibitively expensive. Online Instructor Led Training eliminates these travel and related costs by enabling face to face training using web conferencing. Corporate LMS should be able to fully integrate with Web Conferencing (aka Video Conferencing) Software so that ILTs become an integral part of the employees’ training program.
- Content update frequency.
With the ever advancing technologies, employees are required to stay up date in their respective domains. Corporate LMS content, unlike the case of academic Learning Management Systems where content updates are less frequent and can be shared across the domain, has to have a niche focus on specific domain that can’t be standardized efficiently. Thus, corporate training requirements should have the ability to continuously evolve with higher content update frequency.
- Course duration.
Unlike academic Learning Management Systems, corporate LMS course schedules cannot follow a fixed duration. Employee training requirements should be extremely flexible, with easy course update processes. New course deployment should be seamless with minimal time between deployment of the course and access to employees.
Corporations looking to implement Learning and Development programs should ideally consider these requirements before choosing a Learning Management System platform to enable smooth operation and effortless scaling, upgrading etc. in future.
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