Don’t Build an LMS from Scratch

When do you need an LMS (Learning Management System)?


Answer: If you are trying to create an online learning component to your website or business – that includes secure lessons, tests, certificates linked to a fee (or not), then you need an LMS.

“Learning management systems range from systems for managing training and educational records to software for distributing online or blended/hybrid college courses over the Internet with features for online collaboration.” See Wikipedia

 

An LMS can be applied to any industry and delivered via written text, video, audio, quizzes, and even games. At Executionists, we have received inquiries from:

  • In-home care businesses that want to train their caregivers and nursing staff on how best to care for clients.
  • Real estate firms that want to train their brokers on sales techniques and laws.
  • Technical schools that want to educate students through online courses.
  • Health and wellness companies that want to create custom training and coaching environments for clients.
  • Corporations that want to have an internal training tool for staff.

 

LMS systems can become quite complex because of the various experiences that need to be designed and programmed for the user types:

  • Super Admins that can control all website content and have access to website traffic statistics.
  • Admins that have control over specific courses and online content.
  • Instructors that can update their course content and manage and communicate with students.
  • Students that can create an account, sign up for courses, pay, and take courses.

 

When you have an LMS, the database needs to be configured for these user types and you need to create all the rules around site permissions. Security is also critical since many LMS businesses collect not only payment information but also personal user information. For example, in the healthcare industry, client data is often of a sensitive nature so extra steps need to be taken to ensure HIPAA compliance.

Due to this complexity, we seldom recommend building an LMS from scratch. There are many software companies that have built very robust LMS solutions for specific vertical industries that can be licensed for your business.  Many LMS solutions will provide technical support and updates to their code. So you’d only responsible for maintaining the business information portion of the website, providing the content for the LMS, and supporting your user base.

Below are some of the hundreds of LMS companies to choose from:

Some of the hundreds of LMS companies

 

The best process for determining which LMS to use is to first understand and clarify your business requirements. What user roles do you need? How will you organize and present your content? What are your testing requirements? How will clients or students pay? What kind of tracking do you need? Once you have a defined list of your requirements, you can start to research LMS providers to determine which one is the best match.

The process to arrive at your business requirements is often called “Project Definition” or “Project Scoping”. This process is not something that most businesses with little web experience can manage on their own because it requires technical, usability, design, and project management experts to arrive at a solid plan. At Executionists, we offer project Definition services. For a project that requires an LMS, the cost could range from $3K – $6K. You can read more about our Definition process and view sample website definition documents here.

Once you have your Definition documents then the next steps are:

  1. License or purchase the LMS.
  2. Customize the LMS as needed.
  3. Create a branded website around the LMS to promote your business/organization, services, and products.
  4. Test the system.
  5. Launch and maintain the system.

The budget for an LMS focused web business could break down like this:

  • LMS license – $500 – $5,000 per year (wide range but really depends on the business needs)
  • Business website design and development – $10,000 – $25,000+
  • Project Management/Testing/Training – $5,000

This estimate is for a basic LMS and does not include any online marketing efforts or content creation.
If you are considering integrating an LMS into your business, please contact us for a quick recommendation and estimate.

Richard Parr
by Richard Parr
Posted: August 27, 2018