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Free LMS Implementation Checklist: The Ultimate Guide for Effective Deployment

When you’re implementing a new LMS, getting everything up and running can take some time. 

LMS implementation is a multi-step process that outlines timelines and roles, data and content migration, integration setup, testing, and more. 

Research shows that 68 percent of employees struggle with work software, so it’s vital to include employee training in your implementation plan. Having an LMS implementation checklist can ensure you move through the process systematically and don’t miss any vital steps. You’ll also avoid some of the common pitfalls that come with transitioning to new software.

What should your checklist include? Here are some key elements to consider. 

What is LMS implementation?

LMS implementation is integrating the new software into your organization’s workflow. It includes steps like setting up access, connecting other elements of your tech stack as needed, importing training assets and migrating data, and training employees on how to use the platform.

If implemented incorrectly, the best software solution won’t help you meet your goals. That’s why a checklist that outlines each step is critical.

What is an LMS implementation checklist?

The checklist is a structured plan that allows you to deploy and begin using the new software as quickly as possible. It includes having a team so all stakeholders are represented, setting clear goals and timelines, and moving systematically through the setup and implementation of the new software.

A checklist helps you avoid missing necessary steps and may help you consider additional ways to integrate the LMS into the organization’s workflow. It will also ensure you make the most of all the LMS features and keep everyone on the same page about what has been done and what’s coming next. 

What is an LMS implementation plan?

Creating an LMS implementation plan allows the team to move through the steps on the checklist quickly and efficiently. A plan will set clear goals and timelines for the deployment process, assign tasks to specific individuals, and provide a way to follow up to ensure tasks are complete.

The implementation plan will also include steps unique to your organization, such as a pilot program if you plan to do one, the creation of an organization-specific “university,” or how you’ll use the LMS to implement a customer enablement program

You could also include steps such as customizing the LMS for your organization, what training program will be launched first, and more. 

Working through an LMS implementation plan will allow your organization to integrate the LMS into your processes efficiently and effectively.

LMS implementation checklist: everything to include

Implementing a learning management system is a complex process, so having a roadmap guiding your progress is helpful. 

An LMS checklist can help identify potential challenges an organization might face during the implementation process, which allows the team to plan so those obstacles don’t derail the project. 

Here are the essential elements to include in your LMS implementation checklist.

1. Determine a launch date

Knowing when you want to start onboarding employees and/or customers to the LMS will give you a clear target for the rest of the implementation process. 

There’s a lot to do before onboarding and additional steps after onboarding. Having that date on the calendar will help focus everyone’s efforts as you work through customizing the platform to your needs, uploading assets, choosing prebuilt content to use, and more. 

Before the launch date, set a separate date for a soft launch, where you test the system to ensure it’s ready for your learners.

Be sure you choose launch dates that are far enough out—having them coming up too soon won’t improve your team’s efficiency, but it will amp up the stress, reduce effectiveness, and could cause essential steps to get skipped. 

2. Set KPIs

What are you hoping to accomplish with the learning management system? Setting clear goals will give you key performance indicators (KPIs) to focus on and measure. 

For example, in 2022 SHRM found that 76 percent of employees said they were more likely to stay with an organization that offers continuous training. If employee engagement and retention are critical goals for your training program, you can measure those KPIs before implementation, a few months after, and a year post-launch. 

The improvement can help show the positive impact of the LMS on your organization. 

Other KPIs to consider include:

  • Improvements in employee performance due to skills training
  • Growth in qualified candidates within the organization due to leadership training
  • Reduction in churn and improvement in customer satisfaction due to customer training
  • How many courses employees enroll in and complete within a specific timeframe

Quantum Metric found success in hitting various KPIs when they implemented the Learning Cloud from WorkRamp. After launching Quantum Metric University, they built over 50 product training paths within a few weeks, onboarded 90 new employees in 90 days, and awarded over 1,000 certifications during the first year.

What results are you looking to achieve with your LMS? Set those as your goals and use the results to showcase the impact on your organization. 

3. Assign team roles

Once you’ve set an implementation date and critical goals, it’s time to assign roles on the team. The LMS implementation team should include IT, training, HR, and leadership stakeholders. Each team member can have specific roles and responsibilities to help ensure you hit your target launch date. 

For example, a group from IT might be in charge of determining how to integrate other parts of your tech stack into the new LMS. HR team members could be in charge of collecting employee data that needs to be imported into the LMS, and L&D employees can be tasked with gathering training assets that need to be added to the platform. 

Beyond individual responsibilities, it’s also vital to ensure regular communication within the implementation team, which means having a project manager is also essential. 

4. Prepare course content

The next step is to prepare your training content for your new LMS. This task can be assigned to implementation team members in L&D. 

They should start by collecting existing training materials and ensuring they’re in a format compatible with the LMS. The team should prioritize training content that aligns with the company’s most important training objectives. 

Next, L&D team members can consider new training content they’d like in the LMS. It can be created during implementation, or the team can customize prebuilt content included in the training software. 

The ultimate goal is to transfer all training content to the LMS, which will take time. Instead of trying to do everything immediately, the team can focus on having a certain number of training courses ready for learners to test during the trial run, with more available by the launch date.

If having full training modules ready seems overwhelming, consider preparing some microlearning courses that are quick to create and easy for learners to benefit from.

5. Integrate your tech stack

The next step is determining which integrations you need to implement to use the LMS with your other technology. 

When Qualified implemented WorkRamp, one of the key integrations they used was connecting Salesforce to the Learning Cloud. Through this integration, the director of Qualified University could show the value of customer education by proving that trained accounts were at least 2x as likely to renew and could better use Qualified to grow their pipeline. 

LMS integration will streamline your training process and can improve the learner experience. For example, you can use HR integrations to track which skills each employee is developing, to manage and track required compliance training, and more.

6. Migrate your data

Once training content is ready and integrations are set up, it’s time to migrate data to the LMS. 

This process will focus on training content, employee information, customer data, and other materials to create a consistent learner experience. 

Data migration lets you clean the data so you’re not moving unnecessary, outdated, or incorrect information into the new LMS.

Some of the steps in data migration include:

  • Identifying and removing redundant and incorrect data
  • Backing up data before migration
  • Saving data into the proper format for the LMS
  • Uploading data into the LMS
  • Storing the backup file for future reference

This should be a seamless process, but if there are concerns, work with the LMS provider or implementation team to identify and solve the problem. 

7. Add white labeling and branding

When employees and customers take training courses in your LMS, they should have an experience consistent with your brand. That means seeing your company’s name, logo, and colors. 

Seeing recognizable brand design during training helps reinforce your brand identity and build trust among employees and customers. This design goes beyond graphics to include language in your brand voice and a training approach that matches your company culture.

You can have implementation team members working on white labeling and branding the LMS platform while the L&D team collects training materials. This will streamline the implementation process and make it easier to hit the launch date.

8. Set up end-user portals

The final step before testing the LMS is to set up end-user logins. You may need multiple portals for multiple audiences—for example, one login experience with access to specific courses for employee learning and development and a different one for customer education.

With the right SaaS LMS, you can set up these portals easily, and learners can sign in with either individual credentials or a single sign-in process. An easy-to-use learner experience will make a big difference in adoption and course completion.

9. Conduct a trial run

Before the official launch date, it’s important to have a soft launch, allowing a small set of learners to log in and test the training modules. At the same time, your implementation team ensures the analytics and integrations are working well. 

If everything works as it should, you’ll know the LMS is ready for launch! 

10. Get support from your LMS vendor

The best LMS providers will be available for you through each step of the LMS implementation. 

If you have any problems with the steps, contact customer support to help you troubleshoot and resolve the issue.

Also, there should be on-demand support in case a critical issue needs to be resolved immediately. Being able to reach a person who fully understands the software and can address the situation is essential.

11. Onboard and train users

Once your soft launch is successful, it’s time to launch. Many organizations prefer to roll out access to the LMS in phases, allowing employees to log in and access training, and watch to ensure everything works properly.

If administrators or other users haven’t been onboarded, you can finish that process during the learner onboarding phase. For example, you might decide managers should have additional access to track their direct reports’ training progress. 

During onboarding and training, open communication channels are essential. Managers can get feedback from employees and relay it to the implementation team, and the implementation team can also interact with managers and employees to answer questions and solve problems. 

12. Assess your LMS launch

Once the process is complete, it’s time to review the entire project and see what went well and what could have been improved. The lessons you learn from the implementation process can help inform future software implementation, process improvements, and other rollouts.

Make sure the entire implementation team meets and goes over the wins and losses together so you get everyone’s perspective. Documenting the lessons learned is essential so that future project managers and leaders can access this information. 

Also, when your LMS is up and running, monitor training results and learner participation. You may learn how to implement software and other changes more effectively by how employees respond to the new LMS and the benefits they experience.

Another implementation checklist: What not to do

Best practices focus primarily on what your team should do, but it’s also helpful to note mistakes you want to avoid. 

Knowing what not to do can prevent common problems that others have experienced, giving you a more successful launch.

Some common mistakes to avoid include:

  • Not creating a team for implementation means you leave out the perspective of essential stakeholders
  • Not setting clear expectations when it comes to implementation tasks, who’s responsible for each one, and how long implementation will take
  • Importing irrelevant information into the LMS, such as an employee’s address and phone number, which is more appropriately stored in an HR system
  • Making the launch date too soon, causing stress for the implementation team, and creating pressure to skip steps, complete tasks hastily, and otherwise not put in a focused effort
  • Not offering enough training and support to learners so they feel comfortable using the LMS on their own for scheduled and on-demand trainings
  • Having too many administrators makes it hard to track who is making changes, when courses were last updated, and who is responsible for creating new content
  • Failing to use analytics tools to measure participation, the impact of training, and where roadblocks are happening 

By avoiding these mistakes, you can help ensure the implementation process goes smoothly, learner adoption is high, and you can track and show the positive impact of training programs. 

Streamline your LMS implementation

As teams become increasingly remote or hybrid, digital learning becomes even more important. Successfully implementing an LMS isn’t just technical—it’s also about creating an environment of continuous learning and growth for your employees. 

A comprehensive checklist not only gives you a smooth, efficient rollout but it allows your team to lay a foundation for an engaged, highly-skilled workforce that will help your organization tackle the challenges it will face in the future.

The Learning Cloud offers an easy-to-use interface for admins and learners, and we have a professional implementation team ready to help you plan and execute a smooth LMS implementation. 

Discover how the Learning Cloud can power employee and customer learning at your organization. Contact us to schedule a free demo. 

Complete the form for a custom demo.

Anna Spooner

WorkRamp Contributor

Anna Spooner is a digital strategist and marketer with over 11 years of experience. She writes content for various industries, including SaaS, medical and personal insurance, healthcare, education, marketing, and business. She enjoys the process of putting words around a company’s vision and is an expert at making complex ideas approachable and encouraging an audience to take action. 

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