<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none;" alt="" src="https://px.ads.linkedin.com/collect/?pid=4236716&amp;fmt=gif">

Picking an LMS is a big decision. Before making a purchase, check out these top five attributes of the best LMSs to ensure you’re making the right choice.

Top 5 attributes of the best LMSs

Choosing a learning management system (LMS) is a big decision and can be an overwhelming process. Evaluating and narrowing down vendors alone can take a lot of time and effort. And with so many choices, how can you be sure you’re going with the right one?

Choose your learning LMS wisely

An LMS, or learning LMS, is often a year or more commitment and can be a significant investment of money and time. And though the return on an LMS is even bigger, only a good LMS will give you the right return on your investment. So it’s crucial to know up front whether or not you’ve found one that is worthwhile. 

The best LMSs on the market serve as a great blueprint for the top traits to look for in a learning management system. While every organization is unique and may need certain features, these universal characteristics are tried and true amongst millions of learners and administrators, standing the test of time and signaling what is and is not worth the cost. 

Top 5 attributes of the best LMSs

Before making a purchase, look for these top five attributes of the best LMSs to ensure you’re picking one that is worth the money and will provide the right value to your organization. 

Easy LMS

As with most software, all learning management systems will have a learning curve, even if you’ve used one before. LMSs vary by provider and each one is different, with different features and capabilities as well as complexities. But the best LMSs, though varied in features and intricacies, are all easy LMSs. 

An easy, or simple LMS, is one that is easy to use – for both administrators and learners alike. Simplicity can make all the difference in the world when it comes to learning and development. The last thing you want to do is go through the process of purchasing an LMS and then find out it is difficult to use. 

Knowing these things upfront will save you a lot of headache and money down the road. But how can you tell if an LMS is simple just by looking at it, especially if each LMS varies so much? 

Ask yourself, and your vendor, these key questions: 

  • How easy is it to create courses? 
  • How easy is it to make changes or updates to courses? 
  • What automation features does the LMS offer? 
  • How accessible is learner data? 
  • What is the learner experience like?

Course creations are, of course, the bread and butter of learning and development, so the easier they are to create, the better. Not all platforms include course creation capabilities, which means you’d have to use a third-party platform to create courses and then spend time importing them into the LMS, so you’ll want to make sure that the LMS has course creation tools first. 

Then, you’ll want to evaluate the ease of using these course authoring tools. Easy-to-use content tools are great because they eliminate the need for coding. And similarly, you’ll want to see what it’s like to update courses. Mistakes happen and courses will need to be adjusted at times with new information. An LMS that allows you to do this easily is a great benefit to have. 

Additionally, you’ll want to evaluate the ease of automation and data reporting tools of an LMS. For instance, if your LMS uses an Open API, you can automate things like importing users, updating users (so you don’t have to manually delete employees if they leave the company), awards or certificate notifications, course reminders, and more – which will pay off dividends down the road. 

Other things to look out for are quick-view reporting or leaderboards that allow you to see completion rates at a glance. An LMS may have data capabilities, and even robust ones at that, but accessing that data can be challenging. You don’t want to have to pull reports every time you want to see completion rates. These features will save you a ton of time and energy. 

Lastly, having a simple LMS is just as important to learners. Look for an LMS with an intuitive interface that your users can easily navigate and a straightforward course organization system that makes it easy for learners to complete their training. 

Robust LMS

Even though the best LMSs are also simple LMSs, that doesn’t mean they lack features. In fact, the best LMSs are both simple and robust. A robust LMS is both powerful and feature-rich. That means it’s powerful enough to support thousands or hundreds of thousands of learners and it has features that go beyond the basics. 

Many people look for an LMS that has the bare essentials of what they need. But this is a big misstep. While every organization is unique and will need certain features, you should look for a solution that you can grow into. Most organizations have the desire to grow. And even if they don’t, their needs, goals, and employees change over time. 

A robust LMS will give you the necessary features that you need today but also allow you to grow into tomorrow. Organizations that pick LMSs with only the basics may face big hurdles down the road when they experience an uptick in learners or need more engaging tools like virtual classrooms and are forced to migrate to a better platform. 

Even without these challenges, a robust LMS can engage your learners more, reduce your tech stack, and make administration even easier. With added features, you may actually save money in the long run by eliminating your need for multiple platforms or reducing administrative burden. 

To know if you’ve found a robust LMS, look for these features: 

  • Virtual classrooms. Video conferencing tools allow administrators to host live or observational training sessions. It can reduce your need for third-party platforms and increase learner engagement.
  • Event management tools. Event management is slightly different than virtual classrooms. With events, you can host thousands of learners at a time, making it suitable for workshops and multi-day conferences. Again, you can reduce your need for third-party platforms and associated costs and even create a new revenue stream by monetizing and selling tickets for upcoming events. 
  • Whiteboards. Whiteboards are great for enhancing learning. It allows you to give a real-time visual representation of concepts and work through learner questions. And it gets users into an active state of learning instead of a passive one for greater engagement and comprehension. 
  • Gamification: Education materials are only as good as they are engaging. Gamification has been proven to increase learner engagement by over 60%. So the more robust gamified elements an LMS has, again, the better. 
  • Scalability. When an LMS is robust, it is powerful enough to adapt to a high number of learners and support large organizations and their systems seamlessly.  
  • Reporting. If you haven’t used data in your learning program before, it’s a game changer. Not only can it help you support underperforming learners and weak training areas but it can help you make better overall organizational decisions that impact your bottom line. When it comes to reporting capabilities, you can never have too many. 
  • E-commerce tools. If you buy and sell courses, an LMS that includes e-commerce tools can help you reduce your tech stack and costs. 
  • Languages. You may not need to use more than one language right now, but if you expand into new territories in the future, this is a valuable feature that you’ll be glad you have access to. 
  • Tailored learning paths. Standardized training is great, but tailored learning paths are even better. With tailored learning paths, you can cater to a learner’s skillset and boost weak areas, provide customized leadership upskilling to certain employees, and cater to specific learners or groups of learners. 
  • Integrations. Integrations allow your systems to communicate with one another seamlessly. Things like single sign-on can allow your learners to move between programs easily. And it can even allow you to connect with applications like your preferred human resources system for a streamlined workflow. 
  • Collaborative learning. Collaborative learning (also known as blended or social learning) has been proven to drastically improve learner involvement and even, organizational innovation. This method is an excellent way to increase training or educational effectiveness. And an LMS with these abilities is worth the cost. 
  • Dynamic rules. Dynamic rules allow you to create “if this, then that” rule sets, allowing you to create gated learning paths that only let learners see content after they’ve completed training and in the order you intend. 

An LMS may have a few of these features, but a robust one will include all of these and more. And the great thing about a robust LMS is that it may actually have even more features than it appears.

When an LMS is robust, it is highly pliable and can have some off-label uses that you may not be aware of. For instance, you may be able to conduct skills mapping or performance reviews in your LMS and consolidate your tech even more. This will depend on the LMS, but it is worthwhile asking about these unknown features during the sales process. 

Secure LMS

Fraud attacks and data breaches do happen. And they don’t just happen to large organizations. Fraudsters target small businesses and local government agencies all the time knowing they are more likely to have weak or vulnerable areas in their system. 

When it comes to LMS shopping, security and reliability are often an afterthought behind flashy features and pricing. Many organizations just assume an LMS is secure, but not all of them are. And with the average cost of a data breach for an organization around $4 million, it’s smart to consider the security of an LMS – not to mention its reliability – before moving forward with a purchase. 

But how can you tell if an LMS is really secure and reliable?  

A SOC 2 certification is the best way to tell if you are dealing with a secure LMS or not. SOC 2 stands for “Service Organization Control” and is conducted by a third-party, objective auditor who determines an organization’s system security, reliability, and data protection. 

SOC 2 certification has two levels: Type 1 and Type 2. A SOC 2 Type 2 examination takes place over a longer period than a Type 1 audit (anywhere from six months to a year or more) and is more stringent. 

It assesses a vendor based on these five factors: 

  1. Security: its protection against unauthorized access 
  2. Availability: the accessibility of the system according to the service level agreement 
  3. Processing integrity: showing that data processing is complete, accurate, and timely 
  4. Confidentiality: assuring that the agreed-upon data of clients and their users are being stored securely and properly 
  5. Privacy: confirming the personal data of clients and their users are being stored appropriately 

While SOC 2 Type 1 is a good indicator of top-notch data security and reliability, a SOC 2 Type 2 certification is the highest level certification. At minimum, look for an LMS that meets SOC 2 Type 1 compliance but even better, look for an LMS that meets SOC 2 Type 2 compliance for the highest levels of system security, integrity, and reliability. 

SOC 2 audits are entirely voluntary and since they require such a large amount of time, money, and resources, it shows an organization’s commitment to ensuring security and reliability for its customers.

The best LMSs prioritize security and reliability before anything else. They know that without security, they are leaving their customers in jeopardy. And when it comes to the learning management industry, a SOC 2 audit really is the only surefire way to ensure an LMS is secure and as reliable as it claims in your service level agreement. 

Compliant LMS

Before moving forward with a purchase, think about if you need a compliant LMS. That is, think about any compliance regulations your organization may need to meet and even, your locations of operation. 

If you host learners located in certain regions, you may need an LMS that is compliant with the data protection laws of that area. And if you are subject to certain governmental compliances, an LMS can help you remain compliant. 

One thing to note is that when it comes to certain compliance governmental regulations, like HIPAA for instance, an LMS can only aid your organization in compliance. The platform itself cannot be legally considered compliant. This is a huge misconception when it comes to compliant LMSs. 

Essentially, for certain compliance regulations, an LMS can only provide you with tools and features that make remaining in good standing with compliance easier. And the best LMSs provide clients with robust tools such as e-signatures, data reporting, and analytics tools to make compliance easier and more streamlined. 

Here are the most common compliant LMSs that people search for: 

HIPAA-compliant LMS

A HIPAA-compliant LMS means that the LMS can help aid organizations in their effort to remain HIPAA-compliant by providing them with the necessary tools to do so. Though an LMS can drastically increase its chances of success, ultimate compliance responsibility will still remain with the organization. When shopping for a HIPAA-compliant LMS, ask your vendor what tools and features they have available that you can use to help aid in your compliance. 

GDPR-compliant LMS

GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation, and provisions the collecting, processing, or storing of personal data for individuals within the European Union (EU). If you operate within the EU, ask your LMS vendor if they are a GDPR-compliant LMS. 

CCPA-compliant LMS

A CCPA-compliant LMS refers to an LMS that adheres to the requirements outlined in the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). The CCPA is a privacy law that grants certain rights and protections to California residents regarding the collection, use, and disclosure of their personal information. If you operate in California, ask your LMS vendor if they are CCPA-compliant. 

Compliance is another area that tends to get overlooked when people are shopping for LMSs. And misconceptions as well as misleading information can make it tricky. The best thing to do is think about your areas of operation and any compliance regulations your organization may be subject to and ask your vendor what tools they have available to help you meet these standards. 

All-in-one LMS

The best LMSs are also “all-in-one” LMSs. What does that mean? For starters, it shouldn’t be confused with features like virtual classroom capabilities, built-in courses, event tools, etc. Though important, features will vary by vendor, and oftentimes organizations get bogged down in the nuances of these things and miss out on the big picture. 

An all-in-one LMS is an LMS that allows you to easily create and manage your training program and glean insights from it – all in one platform. In essence, it is the three non-negotiables of an LMS platform. Features may come and go, but without these three elements, you risk having an LMS that is dead weight and inefficient. 

If you find yourself getting lost in the noise of features, always recenter on evaluating if it’s an all-in-one LMS first. If you’re considering an LMS that isn’t all-in-one, avoid it. It will likely be more burdensome than beneficial to your organization. 

When evaluating LMSs, you’ll know you’ve found an all-in-one LMS if it has these three components: 

  1. Course creation capabilities. Some LMSs operate as a shell for housing courses. But an all-in-one LMS will allow you to create courses and deliver them to learners in the same platform. You don’t want to use two or more platforms for this basic function. 
  2. Engaging features: This could be anything from gamified elements to collaborative tools. Training and education materials are only as good as they are interesting for learners. This is an absolute must when it comes to picking an LMS. If you can create courses, but they’re dull, your learners are sure to tune them out and your efforts will be wasted. 
  3. Data and reporting: An all-in-one LMS will gather learner data to at least some level. Data is crucial to learning and development now. It can help you with everything from individual performance to making workforce-wide decisions and creating easy-to-understand reports for leadership. 

At bare minimum, an LMS should include these three components in some capacity. You’ll want to use a platform that allows you to create and deliver courses in one place, add engaging elements, and then use data to track the effectiveness of these results. 

By focusing on these three areas, you can cut through the bells and whistles of features and know that you’re getting a reliable, all-in-one LMS you can count on. 

Tovuti's top LMS makes learning fun, easy, and data-driven 

Tovuti is a top-rated LMS that makes training and education programs manageable, trackable, and data-driven. By leveraging Tovuti’s popular LMS, you alleviate administrative burden and make learning fun and easy for users. 

With Tovuti, administrators can easily create engaging courses, distribute multimedia learning materials, provide feedback, host collaborative learning sessions, use granular data insights to improve their program effectiveness, and more – all from one platform.

And with the most robust gamified and interactive features on the market, including over 40 plug-and-play gamified features, leaderboards, and virtual classrooms, learners are sure to retain more information and have fun doing it!

Get the best all-in-one LMS to boost engagement and ROI


Like this article?

Subscribe and stay up-to-date when new blogs are published!

Similar posts

Get notified on new marketing insights

Be the first to know about new B2B SaaS Marketing insights to build or refine your marketing function with the tools and knowledge of today’s industry.