You Have A New Learning Management System! Now What?

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Just when you think you’re out, it draws you back in.

Just when you think your favorite character is safe, George RR Martin publishes a new book.

new_lms_now_what

Just when you think the holiday-food rush is over and your diet is back on, everybody’s got leftovers.

And just when you think you’re done with finding a new learning management software system, you realize picking it out was only the beginning. Between implementation, data transfer, debugging, and testing… well. You’ve got a long way to go.

But you’re far from alone. Getting started is the hardest part, but once you’re underway, you’ll find you already have everything you need for a successful implementation. Let’s give it a push, shall we?

1. Form A Plan

You absolutely do not want to go into any new software implementation without a plan. Implementing a new LMS without a plan is like going on a roadtrip without a map or directions. It’s a huge mistake, and you’re setting yourself up for failure.

The two aspects you should focus on in forming a plan are goal setting and developing a timeline. The two are tied together.

Think of the timeline as when things must happen, and the goals as when things will ideally happen. Consider goals that are realistic but challenging, such as achieving full staff competency earlier than necessary or having your LMS rolled out to students by the new semester.

When you design these plans, consider creating a chart or sheet to help you visualize the timeline. Excel sheets are your best friend.

2. Work With Your Team

When you’re developing these plans, you shouldn’t be developing them alone. Even if you’re in charge of picking out the LMS. And even if you’re the head of your business’s eLearning.

Determine your team by figuring out who is going to be involved with your new LMS. Pro tip: look to the past for a view of the future: Who was involved with the old LMS? They should probably be involved with the new one, in some small way if not in the same role as before.

Cast the net as wide as is reasonable. Instructors and administrators are a given. Look wider. Talk to the IT and help desk people who will be involved in the process. You should even talk to a sample of your students if you can. Having the future users work with you to plan the process will work better for both you and your users.

This diverse team should be working with you not only to choose a new LMS but to implement it too. Plan meetings, get input, and make sure to record plenty of feedback.

3. Migrate

Once you have a plan and have gotten through all the meetings, you need to do the hard part: migration. It’s the big, scary, alarming part of the new LMS adoption.

You shouldn’t worry too much though. Your software vendor knows this is a difficult process and they don’t want to see you suffer. They often have migration services or at least an awful lot of troubleshooting help to get you through installation and all your data migration from your old LMS in a jiffy.

If you have any issues with your tech move, prep before you call the help desk. Go over any instructions you’ve already been given, because odds are they’ve seen similar problems before and have already given you the tools you need to fix your problems. If you still have a problem, check what version of the software you have and what kind of computer you’re using. Make sure you know exactly what your problem is, and write down an explanation if it will help you articulate your issue better to the vendor’s help desk.

4. Test

So it looks good. You’ve migrated, you’re on schedule—you may even be meeting or exceeding your goals.

Remember those IT folks and users you involved in your planning process? This is where their feedback (and the rest of your team’s) will be most helpful. Have your instructors run through the new LMS, and document their experience. Have your users test a few lessons the same way. Gather as much feedback as you can to troubleshoot and fix any issues before the system goes live for all users.

Run multiple system checks and tests. Have instructors test your LMS from the student side in addition to your learner tests, because they’ll likely explore different aspects. Think as creatively as you can now to avoid getting blindsided by a problem you didn’t consider down the line. Meticulous notes are the best way to keep track of the process. A note-taking app might help if you’re the paperless sort.

5. Keep Checking In

You’re not done.

I’m sorry, my friends. I know how much you hate to hear that. But you’re not going to be done just because you’ve completed the moving process. You need to keep checking in and making sure everything’s running smoothly. This is a process that will (and should!) take months, as you keep looking for issues so you can get rid of any problems that crop up.

Check in with the team you formed in the last step, so you can have multiple perspectives on multiple issues. One of the best ways you can collect ongoing feedback is by sending out surveys. Use survey software to collect data easily and keep track of the results. It’ll make your life much easier, and help your LMS run more smoothly.

Now What?

There’s one more step, and it’ll only take a moment of your time. Once you’ve had your LMS for a few months and have a good idea of how it functions, write a review about it. For better or worse, share what you think. Reviews help way more than you might realize!

Have you switched to a new LMS recently? How did you go about implementing it? Share your war stories in the comments below.

Looking for Learning Management System software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Learning Management System software solutions.

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About the Author

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Halden Ingwersen

Halden Ingwersen is a former Capterra analyst.

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