Buying an LMS: The Complete Feature Checklist to Make the Right Choice

Buying an LMS: The Complete Feature Checklist to Make the Right Choice

“Which LMS should I use?” or "Which LMS features are most important?" are questions you may be contemplating. Whether you are buying an LMS for the first time or merely looking to replace your old, outdated LMS, you know the importance of doing your homework and finding the right one for your organization. Hopefully, we can help you think through what you need today and what you might need in the future with our LMS feature checklist.

So, how do you zero in on the features you want that will work best for your organization? And how do you compare the different offerings "apples to apples" to be fair? Once that’s done, how do you make a rational choice of LMS?

Start with Your Learning Ecosystem...

A good first step is to think about your learning ecosystem as a whole. (Our blog post “What is a Learning Ecosystem?” can give you some good background.)

For example, think about the people that will need to use the system. What do your admins need in terms of course building, tracking, and reporting? How do your learners feel about your current system? When, where, and how do they want to access training materials? This will help you think about which LMS is best for your people.

You should also consider content. A new LMS is nothing without the best training content available. Our blog post “How to Buy eLearning Content for Your LMS” can be especially helpful in this regard.

What content you will need, and how learners will seek out and interact with that content, will depend on your organization’s learning culture. We describe the four main types of learning culture in our whitepaper on the topic. The features you need in an LMS, and so which LMS is best, may well vary depending on which learning culture you have. Are you looking for training compliance or employee development?

Your learning and development decisions should be made with your corporate strategy in mind. How will this technology help your organization meet its strategic goals?

Once you are clear on those things—what your people want, what content you need, and what your learning culture is like—you can finally begin considering what tools are available to meet those needs.

It’s time to consider features and technology.

Comprehensive LMS Features Checklist

To be clear, you might not need all of these features in your LMS day one. You might only need some. That’s why there is no single, distinct answer to the question “Which LMS should I use?”

It’s important to know what features are out there and available, especially when comparing different systems and their pricing.

I’ve divided the LMS comparison checklist into four parts: Features for admins, features for learners, features that help both, and important considerations that go beyond mere technological features.

P.S. Feel free to bookmark this post or download this handy PDF of the entire LMS checklist.

LMS Administrative Features

Classroom scheduling and registration management

Content management

Automated reporting

Data security

Content options

Competency management

Authoring tools

Student materials storage

SCORM-compliant formats

Data import/export

Survey tool

Exam editor

Hidden pricing

LMS Learner Engagement Features

Mobile learning

Training reinforcement

Social learning

Self-directed learning

Slack Integration

LMS Features for both Users and Administrators

Intuitive user interface

Intuitive course catalog search


Going Beyond LMS Features

Vision for the future


Even More Help for You

Yes, that is a long LMS checklist. If these features are high on your list, check out our own HSI LMS. It's also important to know that with HSI, when you buy our off-the-shelf content, we include our HSI LMS with authoring tool, at no additional charge. That should help the pricing conversation.

You should still do your due diligence. Comparison shop. Figure out which features are important to you, your admins, and your learners, Then search technologies that incorporate those features well. It's tough to find a fair "apples to apples" comparison, but this checklist should help.

Additional Resources

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on November 30, 2018, and has been updated for freshness and comprehensiveness.

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