Why Small Businesses Need a Learning Management System

Why Small Businesses Need a Learning Management System

A learning management system(LMS) is a software application that is used to track, support, manage, and measure the entire learning process. Imagine the following scenario.

The Ministry of Labour (MOL)
 receives an anonymous complaint regarding unsafe working conditions at your company. During their visit, they ask to see proof of competence for the employees operating the equipment. You don’t have dedicated human resources staff who handle training, and the shift supervisor called in sick.

You’re forced to dig through messy filing cabinets and employee files to try to locate some proof that your employees have been trained on the machinery but to no avail. The Ministry issues a stop-work order until such time that you can show proof of training for your employees.

Or this one.

You hired an intern to do some filing, and they inadvertently shredded documents that they didn’t think were important.

Unfortunately, your ISO 9001 auditor doesn’t see it that way, and you receive a non-conformance notice for failing to provide evidence that staff is competent to perform their duties. You have 30 days to produce training certificates for your staff.  

Or even this one.

Your shipping and receiving coordinator was in a car accident, and they are unable to come into work for the foreseeable future. They are the only person in your organization who understands your new inventory management system, and without them, you run the risk of short shipping your customers. You wish that you’d spent the extra money to send someone else to the training, as the software company only runs it once a month.    

Hard filing of employee records
“We need to bring learning to people instead of people to learning."— Elliot Masie

While these scenarios may seem extreme, not having an employee training and development program with the proper training content and proper employee training records can have major implications for the productivity of your business.

As businesses compete to attract and retain today’s knowledge employees, they must provide continuous learning and development programs in order to ensure employees successfully fulfill the roles and responsibilities of their jobs and help meet business goals.

With the increase in global operations, volatile business relationships, rapidly evolving technology, ever-increasing competition, and the prevalence of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, employers must integrate learning and training processes into their strategic organizational processes and business plans in order to remain competitive.

A learning management system can help.

A learning management system (LMS) is a software application that is used to track, support, manage, and measure the entire learning process. It includes not only training components, but also offers report generating tools and authoring capabilities. These systems can simultaneously provide learning activities to educate employees, customers, suppliers, and partners about new policies, services, and products.  

Benefits of an LMS for Employers

Centralize record storage

In contrast to the scenario above, an LMS consolidates all an organization’s training records in one place, so there are no filing cabinets to sort through or managers to track down. Training records are centralized and easily accessible.  

Ensure data security

Security is a priority for any system containing employee data and proprietary company information. LMSs typically use security measures like passwords, encryption, and automated log out after a period of inactivity to ensure data security.  

Realize cost savings

Employee training costs vary widely depending on your industry and organization. Industry reports suggest that implementing an LMS can drastically reduce training time and costs, boost profit margins, and significantly increase revenue per employee.    

Reduce or eliminate outsourced training

Sending employees out of your office for training can be costly, time-consuming, and lack customization. Costs associated with coordinating travel, hotels, meals, resources, materials, and classrooms for traditional training can be avoided by conducting training in-house.  

Keep track of training expiry dates

For companies with heavy compliance obligations, keeping track of training expiry dates can quickly turn into a nightmare. An LMS can generate alerts at pre-scheduled intervals in advance of training expiry so that critical training (like first aid, CPR, working at heights, or joint health and safety training) doesn’t lapse and provide exposure to potential MOL orders.  

Easily access and manage

If you can log in to a computer, you can manage an LMS. Literally, they’re that easy to navigate and administer. LMS administrators can easily manage user registrations and profiles, define job roles, set curricula, determine certification paths, author courses, manage content, build training schedules, and administer internal training budgets. Most LMSs are also self-service, meaning that not only can management access training records, but employees can view, enroll, and track their own courses and learning pathways.  

Ensure consistency of training

By implementing standardized training, you can be sure that all employees receive the same information each time a course is taken through the LMS. Training is also relevant to your specific organization and job tasks, making employee retention of the training material much more likely.  

Improve training retention

Students forget as much as 50% of training material within a week of attending training. Web-based training results in an increase in mastery of a topic by 15–60% over traditional classroom-based training.  

Standardize testing

Most LMSs come equipped with the capability of providing standardized timed testing for training modules, which allows employees to receive instantaneous feedback on their training retention and performance. This can be especially important where employee competence must be demonstrated (as in the ISO audit scenario above).  

Track ROI

By ensuring that your training meets stated objectives, you can easily assess training effectiveness and return on investment. You can also use your LMS to compare how much you spend on classroom-based or outsourced training sessions versus how much you spend on eLearning.  

Generate training certificates

Certificates of training completion can be generated for courses and can also be customized to reflect your organization’s logo or branding.  

Access anytime

Today’s hectic business environment doesn’t allow employees to walk away from the task at hand to attend training. With an LMS, there is no need to wait for an outsourced course to be scheduled. Employees can access training on-demand at any time of the day or night, as just-in-time training allows individuals to learn continuously while still performing their job.  

Reduce HR cost

Managing manual training records is a full-time job in many organizations—albeit a brain-numbingly unnecessary one. Implementing an LMS platform can drastically increase the efficiency of HR personnel and potentially reduce staffing costs, as HR staff is freed up to perform more meaningful tasks.   Additionally, further time can be saved by utilizing an LMS for new employee orientation such that valuable staff time isn’t taken away to conduct in-person orientations every time you hire a new employee.  

Customize content

While many training programs are general in nature, many LMSs allow you to create custom training modules and online courses specific to your industry or workplace, or take an existing third party plug-and-play course from the marketplace and customize it to be relevant for your company.  This ensures that specific training objectives can be achieved, versions can be controlled, and training can be rapidly deployed to affected employees.  

Identify skills

LMSs can replace clunky Excel training matrices and provide the ability to identify skill gaps quickly and easily within your organization. They can also help identify employees with critical skills in geographically diverse or large organizations.  

Train remote employees

No longer are companies limited to hiring employees within a specific geographic area. As remote work becomes the norm, so too does the ability to train those remote workers in a scalable and consistent manner.  

Globally available virtual classrooms can provide simultaneous instruction in different languages across different time zones—not to mention that online training is up to 30% faster than classroom training and much less intrusive to the daily work duties of the company and learner.  

Integrate with other systems

Many enterprise LMS systems can integrate with other enterprise application systems so that training completion data, competency assessments, and time tracking can be fed into human resource management and accounting systems.  By integrating these systems, new hires can be automatically enrolled in employee training programs. With required courses, satisfactory testing results can populate performance appraisal software, and management can measure the impact, effectiveness, and overall cost of training initiatives.    

Generate reports with ease

All LMSs have report generation functionality, though some produce canned reports while others allow for customized data reporting based on your organization’s specific needs.  

Improve accessibility

LMS systems can make information more accessible to employees with disabilities or different learning preferences and styles. Immersive readers, text-to-speech, video subtitles or transcripts, font options, and descriptive links are just a few of the accessibility options available in LMSs that can allow for tailored learning experiences.  

Reduce your carbon footprint

While not immediately evident when considering an LMS, the impact on the environment can be significant. E-learning consumes substantially less energy and produces fewer CO2 emissions per person than face-to-face training.  

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” — Benjamin Franklin

Benefits of an LMS for Employees  

LMSs provide numerous benefits to employees, including real-time learning and the application of critical knowledge. By providing employees with training at their fingertips, up-to-date information can be accessed immediately from an employee’s desktop. LMSs change the focus of training from traditional instructor-centric training to learner-centric training.

Training can be tailored to the learners’ professional responsibilities, capabilities, job requirements, career goals, current knowledge, and personal preferences, allowing them to access only the information they need and no more via learning on demand.

Training can also be customized to the employee’s learning style based on their aptitude, such as:

       - Left-brain or right-brain  
       - Solitary or collaborative
       - Holistic or analytic
       - Visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learning  

Additionally, multiple learning methods such as:  

       - Video Clips  
       - Images
       - Animation
       - Charts
       - Audio
       - Gamification
       - Augmented Reality
       - Virtual Reality  

Research shows that the number one reason for the loss of key employees is that they feel their company hasn’t invested sufficient resources for their professional development. With today’s shortage of skilled workers, companies cannot afford to lose their most important asset—knowledge workers.

By allowing employees to constantly evolve with the company and, in turn, develop and hone their own skills, organizations stand a much better chance at retaining those employees.

Additionally, by making employees responsible for their own learning, they are empowered to manage and implement their own learning and development plans, which is crucial for individual growth, improved employee engagement, and increased employee retention.  

LMS Purchasing Considerations

Now that we’ve extolled the virtues of LMSs, there are a number of things that must be considered in your purchasing decision.  

Assess needs

Before jumping into product demos and getting wowed by flashy graphics and amazing capabilities, it’s important to clearly define and prioritize requirements for your organization. Input should be sought from management, HR, and IT before shopping to ensure that you purchase an LMS that will meet your organization’s initial requirements, but also scale to meet your future business needs.  

Compare pricing

LMSs come in all shapes and sizes and can range from a few dollars per month (per employee) on a pay-per-use basis to millions of dollars per year for customized enterprise-wide implementations. While some LMSs still use a direct purchase or third-party maintenance model, the software as a service(SaaS) model continues to gain popularity. Depending on the level of customization required, and your access to in-house IT supports, you may be able to limit your need for implementation costs, additional vendor consultation, technical configuration, and administrator training.   As you increase course offerings and learners within your LMS, you can take advantage of economies of scale. In other words, the cost of a custom LMS and course development will be spread among a larger group of individuals, reducing the per-person cost of training.

Schedule demos

Most SaaS providers will provide you with extensive demonstrations, customer references, and may even allow you to test drive the software for a period before committing to it. Take advantage of this and consider having your employees beta test the software. By including them in the decision-making process, you’re much likelier to gain their buy-in to use the system when a purchase decision is made.    

While most small businesses don’t have unlimited training budgets, a smart investment in a scalable learning management system can be a strategic business decision resulting in numerous process efficiencies, improved employee retention, and competitive advantage.  

Contact BluePrint CPAs today to discuss how a customized LMS can benefit your business.  

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Rebecca Scott
Web Designer

Rebecca is a Web Designer at BluePrint CPAs. She is a graduate of St. Clair College’s Internet Applications and Web Development Program and has worked as a freelance web designer before joining the BluePrint team.

BluePrint CPAs is a management consultancy that simplifies digital, financial and talent strategies. Our team helps entrepreneurs and their teams grow profitable and modern businesses.

Kit Moore, BluePrint CPAs President & Lead Tax Advisor
Kit Moore, CPA, CA
President & Lead Tax Advisor

Kit Moore, is an entrepreneur that simplifies digital strategy for other business owners. The team at BluePrint CPAs can assist you with web design, development, analytics, management systems and, more importantly, your overall business strategy. The toughest part of digital transformation is re-training your team - and we have pros to help with that as well.

BluePrint CPAs is a management consultancy that simplifies digital, financial and talent strategies. Our team helps entrepreneurs and their teams grow profitable and modern businesses.

Kit Moore, BluePrint CPAs President & Lead Tax Advisor
Kit Moore, CPA, CA
President & Lead Tax Advisor

Kit Moore, is an entrepreneur that simplifies tax and financial strategy for other business owners. The team at BluePrint CPAs can assist you with financial technology, tax strategies, mergers & acquisitions, succession & exit planning and, more importantly, your overall business strategy.

BluePrint CPAs is a management consultancy that simplifies digital, financial and talent strategies. Our team helps entrepreneurs and their teams grow profitable and modern businesses.

Joe Marra, MBA
Senior Associate, Strategy Consulting

Joe is a Senior Associate, Strategy Consulting at BluePrint CPAs. He is a recent graduate of the MBA Program at the Schulich School of Business and has most recently worked for Bayer Inc and the Ford Motor Company of Canada. His experience in marketing, sales, and human resources spans various industries including hospitality, logistics, life sciences and automotive manufacturing. Joe loves working with entrepreneurs to develop their digital strategies and help them grow their business.

BluePrint CPAs is a management consultancy that simplifies digital, financial and talent strategies. Our team helps entrepreneurs and their teams grow profitable and modern businesses.