LMS Implementation: 9+ Steps For an Effective LMS Implementation Project Plan
August 16, 2023
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In the fast-paced modern business world, staying ahead of competitors is non-negotiable. A learning management system (LMS) is a game-changer that can revolutionize how you train and educate your teams and customers, helping your organization thrive.
This comprehensive all-in-one tool lets you create and deliver online training content for new and senior employees, partners, and customers.
An LMS offers numerous benefits for both organizations and learners alike, including better employee retention, higher learner engagement, improved time optimization, and the ability to centralize learning content—to name just a few.
There’s only one catch: to reap these benefits; you must ensure your LMS implementation efforts go smoothly. That’s why you need a detailed LMS implementation project plan, which will illuminate your path forward and keep you on track throughout each stage of the process.
So what do professionals need to know about designing and launching an LMS?
Discover the must-follow steps to implement an LMS successfully, how long the process typically takes, and the capabilities, features, and functions to look for in an LMS.
There’s lots of ground to cover, so let’s jump right in.
What is LMS implementation?
Learning management platforms are highly versatile tools with multiple use cases for small, midsize, and large businesses, from customer and employee onboarding to sales and support enablement.
An LMS like the Learning Cloud from WorkRamp is an all-in-one employee and customer training platform. You can create and deliver training programs for employee development, onboarding, compliance training, leadership development, revenue enablement, customer education, and partner training.
LMS implementation refers to the process of evaluating different platforms, choosing the best LMS platform for your needs, designing or selecting eLearning content, getting each user set up, and—last but certainly not least—launching and deploying the LMS.
So why should you implement an LMS at your business? Because using an all-in-one LMS like the Learning Cloud enables you to more efficiently, rapidly, and cost-effectively achieve a wide range of business goals, including goals around sales, customer service and support, employee upskilling and reskilling, and more.
Here are some goals and achievements that a successfully implemented LMS can help you accomplish:
- Accelerating your onboarding process
- Creating customized learning paths that are role- or group-specific
- Educating employees and customers about your products, services, and brand
- Keeping all of your instructional content in one secure, accessible, easy-to-manage hub
- Making instructional content and training programs more accessible and inclusive, especially for remote and hybrid teams
- Providing customer and partner certifications
- Saving money on training costs
- Tracking learner progress and engagement
- Tracking which employees need to complete compliance training, renew their certifications, or meet other requirements
Plus, the flexibility of an LMS means that it can easily accommodate a wide range of learning styles, approaches, and preferences, including social learning, microlearning, and self-paced or asynchronous learning.
Due to the many benefits it can deliver, like reducing your training-related expenses, an LMS has the potential to be a highly valuable tool for your business. However, to ensure that learners actually use and engage with the platform—in other words, to ensure that your launch is successful—you need to avoid any snags or mistakes that could drag down the implementation process.
For example, you should avoid entering or editing user data manually due to the high potential for errors and the amount of time required, opting to automate the process instead. The Learning Cloud integrates seamlessly with your tech stack, saving you time while ensuring your user data is accurate and up-to-date.
The best way to avoid issues and successfully implement your LMS is to follow an in-depth, tried-and-true plan, like the nine-step process outlined below. But before we break down the process, there’s another important question we need to answer first:
Exactly how long is this all going to take?
How long does it typically take to implement an LMS?
As the adage goes, time is money. When you’re planning to launch a new project, you need a clear idea of how long the process will take. It’s not enough to simply know what steps you’ll be taking—you also need an estimate of when you’ll be able to complete them.
The timeline for each LMS launch is different, depending on factors like the size of the company, the quantity and complexity of your training materials, and whether you elect to use an on-premise or cloud-based LMS. For example, cloud-based software is usually faster to set up and implement than traditional hosted platforms.
That said, it generally takes between 3 months to 1 year to fully implement a learning management system.
As you’ll see, some stages of LMS implementation can be completed within days, while others may take several weeks or months.
How to implement a learning management system into your business
Implementing a learning management system is a complex process. It demands careful planning, attention to detail, and anticipating and avoiding potential issues. But don’t worry: we’ll go over everything you need to know, including approximate timelines for each stage of the project.
The nine steps below, which are accompanied by some helpful tips and best practices, will show you how to get an effective corporate training program rolling. You can skip to the stage of the process you’ve reached or start at Step 1.
Here’s an overview of the steps to choosing, setting up, and launching an LMS:
- Identify your learning and organizational goals
- Build your LMS implementation dream-team
- Set the timeline for implementation
- Choose the best LMS for your business
- Determine what types of learning content to provide
- Test the LMS platform
- Create accounts for employees, customers, and/or partners who will use the LMS
- Provide exciting, engaging training opportunities
- Launch your LMS
1. Identify learning and organizational goals
Before you attempt to launch or even choose a learning management system, you need to identify what goals you’re trying to reach or what pain points you’re hoping to solve by adopting an LMS.
For instance, maybe you’d like to:
- Automate your annual compliance training
- Increase your sales of a particular product or service by a certain percentage
- Offer a partner certification program
From teaching employees about sales techniques to teaching customers about product updates, these are just a few examples of the many diverse learning goals an LMS can help your organization accomplish.
Tip: It’s essential to be specific and clear when determining your goals—not only for the sake of generating buy-in and support from stakeholders but also so that you can measure and improve your training programs over time. If you aren’t reaching your goals, you’ll know it’s time to make an adjustment—but if clear goals haven’t been set, you won’t be able to gauge or quantify the program’s success.
Bonus Tip: Take the time to talk with employees about the skills they want to acquire or develop. These conversations will illuminate skill gaps on your teams and help you create highly relevant and engaging content.
This stage generally takes organizations anywhere from several days to several weeks, depending on the company’s size and what methods it uses to assess learning needs.
2. Build an LMS implementation team
Once you’ve established your goals, it’s time to begin assembling your LMS implementation dream team.
These are the people who will be handling tasks like:
- Administering the platform, which involves duties like fixing bugs or glitches, maintaining platform security, and ensuring that users can access the appropriate content
- Interacting with the vendor who’s providing the LMS
- Managing integrations and making sure they’re maintained
- Planning, designing, and developing the instructional content that will be available through the platform
- Providing support for users, such as employees or customers who have questions about logging in or accessing certain areas of the platform
- Setting up user profiles and analytics
- Tracking how well the platform is functioning and being engaged with
- Tracking program milestones and staying on top of deadlines and schedules
Tip: The size of your implementation team will vary depending on the size of your organization. A small business might be a team of just one or two, while a larger organization might have six or more people simultaneously working on implementation.
Ideally, you should aim to include each of the following five positions on your team:
- eLearning Specialist — Manages the process of migrating or developing new content
- IT Specialist/Architect — Manages integrations and resolves technical issues
- Learning and Development (L&D) Administrator — Determines how the LMS should be configured to support and align with the company’s training needs
- Project Manager (PM) — Tracks deadlines, milestones, due dates, and tasks
- Team Leader — Coordinates with the vendor and guides all aspects of the project
Building your team will generally take at least two days, depending on its size and complexity.
When you use an LMS like the Learning Cloud, you can work with a team of implementation experts.
An implementation team can help you set up the Learning Cloud exactly how you need it for your organization structure or business goals, help you create a launch and adoption plan, provide ongoing support during the process, and more.
3. Develop an implementation timeline
No two organizations will have an identical LMS implementation timeline. That means you need to determine your timeline so that you can budget and allocate resources appropriately.
There are two major factors to consider when determining the timeline for your project:
- Whether you’re going to use on-premise or cloud-based LMS software. Installing an LMS offers a few advantages over using a cloud-based platform—but speed isn’t one of them. It’s wise to review the pros and cons of on-premise vs. cloud-based learning management system.
- The volume of accounts and software you need to integrate or migrate. The greater the quantity, the longer the process will take.
Tip: Be sure to communicate clearly with your project manager throughout this stage, since the PM will be responsible for tracking schedules, resources, tasks, and subtasks.
This step generally takes several days to complete.
4. Choose the right LMS for your needs
No one has the time—or budget—for learning software with limited use cases.
You need a get-it-done, superstar LMS platform that enables you to create scalable eLearning content for internal teams and external parties, regardless of your training goals.
With the Learning Cloud, you get all of the features and functionalities you need to accomplish your biggest L&D goals, including:
- Course authoring
- Custom learning paths
- Customer support
- Data encryption
- Interactive features
- Intuitive interface
- Mobile-friendly design
- Off-the-shelf content
- Reporting and analytics
Tip: WorkRamp provides free demos of the Learning Cloud. Be sure to take advantage of this option to see all of the platform’s features and capabilities in action. It only takes a few moments to schedule a free demo online.
It’s important not to rush this stage since the LMS you choose will impact every aspect of the training your employees, customers, and partners ultimately receive. Your decision-making process might take anywhere from a few days to weeks of research, depending on how many vendors you want to compare.
5. Determine training content
To get learners engaged with and using the platform, you need to offer training materials that:
- Look polished and professional
- Function smoothly and intuitively
- Incorporate a range of content types and formats, such as videos, articles, quizzes, self-assessments, and interactive features
To develop content that meets these criteria—and gets learners excited about the platform—make sure you clearly identify your target audience, consult with subject matter experts on the material you want to cover, and use an intuitive course authoring tool like the Learning Cloud.
Tip: Before you start creating courses, check out our guide to designing effective corporate training content.
Expect this stage to take anywhere from at least one to several weeks.
6. Test the platform
Whatever software or platform you selected in Step 4, testing it is a critical step toward ensuring a smooth and successful rollout.
The purpose of performing a trial run is to identify any problem areas or pain points where glitches or issues tend to crop up—for example, whether video content streams smoothly or struggles with buffering and pixelation.
Taking this step will enable you and your implementation team to fix bugs, revise course content, test third-party plugins, ensure that logins work correctly, and make any other adjustments to deliver the best, most engaging experience possible for learners.
Tip: To test the platform, choose a small group of internal and/or external users to explore its features and perform a trial run. At the end of the trial, be sure to get participants’ feedback about the platform’s functionality, accessibility, quality of vendor support, and how enjoyable it is to use.
Depending on how long you want your pilot program to run, this stage typically takes at least two weeks to complete.
7. Set up the LMS
Once you’ve chosen and tested the platform, it’s time to get your new learning management system officially set up for use—a phase where you may need to lean on your IT expert.
Some businesses prefer to gradually phase out their current system, while others opt to make a complete overhaul all at once.
Either way, you’ll need to tackle tasks at this stage like:
- Assigning administrator and supervisor roles
- Customizing your LMS, like branding it with your logo
- Integrating the platform with other software in your tech stack
- Setting up logins and single sign-on (SSO)
Tip: To minimize interruptions, notify your employees in advance about possible downtime between taking the old system down and getting the new one running. To make the transition smoother, your vendor may recommend temporarily operating both systems while learners get familiar with the new LMS.
This stage typically takes somewhere between 1 to 3 days. Getting the Learning Cloud up and operating is fast and easy, so you can hit the ground running without worrying about losing time, data, or productivity.
8. Offer training and engagement opportunities
Now that your LMS is set up, it’s time to get people participating—not just one select group or department, but your organization as a whole.
Use the LMS to offer training opportunities for your employees, customers, and/or other brands you partner with. WorkRamp’s flexible platform has many use cases, including sales training, leadership training, diversity training, soft skills training, new employee onboarding, employee reskilling, and more.
In addition to optional career development courses, you can use your LMS to deliver and track mandatory training, such as certain types of annual compliance training.
Tip: Ensure learners receive alerts or notifications about actions within the platform, like receiving a mobile or email alert if they’re assigned to complete a course.
This step typically takes about 1 to 2 weeks to complete.
9. Officially launch your LMS
Once you’re confident in the system’s security and functionality, have finished curating and developing your content, and have set your learners up with accounts and logins, it’s time to officially launch your new platform.
Tip: To ensure that your launch is as successful as possible, be sure to notify all employees—ideally at least one month in advance, with additional alerts closer to the actual launch date. Use multiple methods for alerting employees, such as sending Slack, email, or text messages.
Bonus Tip: It’s essential to provide employees with various methods of accessing the LMS regardless of whether they’re working from a computer or a smartphone, as well as resources for contacting support in case they need help or have questions. You should also provide them with instructions for logging in, as well as links they can follow
to access their account.
This step generally takes 1 to 2 days.
What to look for in an LMS
With so many LMS platforms to choose from, making the right selection can be challenging. Making a good decision will be easier if you know what features to look for in an LMS.
No matter why you wish to adopt a learning management system, it’s vital to make sure that the system you choose offers the following features:
- Personalization and customization options
- An engaging user interface
- Mobile-friendly design with multi-platform access
- Content management capabilities
- Microlearning, social learning, and interactive features
- Integrations and APIs
- Data reporting and analytics
Personalization and customization options
The Learning Cloud is hyper-customizable, with options to customize your navigation, registration, and course overview pages so that they represent your brand.
You can create custom learning paths, custom quizzes, and more to personalize the learning process and create a branded look and feel for customers.
Engaging user interface
A slow, confusing, or hard-to-use interface can sabotage even the best-designed courses by pushing learners away from the platform.
The Learning Cloud offers a sleek, intuitive interface that’s easy for both learners and admins to navigate, with beautiful graphics, simple menus, and plenty of support resources.
Statistics show that nearly 13 percent of employees work remotely, while more than 28 percent work on a hybrid basis. As more people work fully or partially from home—and as technology enables organizations to expand around the globe—businesses need to keep up by providing mobile-friendly training that can be accessed anytime, anywhere.
The Learning Cloud is accessible via desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone, and other mobile devices, empowering your customers, partners, and employees to learn at their own pace and convenience. That means learners are more engaged, and your training is more cost-efficient without employees needing to travel for on-site training events.
Content management capabilities
A learning management system isn’t a replacement for a content management system (CMS). However, an LMS can still be used to centralize and deliver educational content to learners.
The Learning Cloud empowers you to create, manage, and track all types of files and content, from contact information and HR documentation to customer databases and online reference materials. Say goodbye to disorganization and hello to stress-free, searchable information that’s always at your team’s fingertips.
Read more: What is an LMS vs. a CMS?
Microlearning, social learning, and interactive features
There are many ways that learning can take place—and in fact, research shows that only about 10 percent of our learning happens in formal settings like a classroom. By comparison, a whopping 90 percent of our learning happens in informal, social settings, whether it’s an online discussion thread or a group of employees in the lunchroom.
With features like message boards, roleplaying activities, and video chat, the Learning Cloud harnesses the power of social learning to get your teams to communicate, collaborate, and share knowledge.
It’s also adapted for microlearning, which means content formatted in quick, bite-sized increments so that learners can digest information faster—without getting bored or fatigued. The Learning Cloud is also packed with interactive features, like challenges, Flip Cards, and quizzes, that make learning more engaging.
Integrations and APIs
You need a learning management system that’s compatible with your existing tech stack so that your business can continue to operate smoothly without disruptions to your workflows or the loss of employee or customer data.
The Learning Cloud integrates with Zoom, Slack, Salesforce, Zendesk, Box, Workday, Google Analytics, SCORM, GSuite, and more.
Reporting and analytics
With reporting and analytics, you’ll gain crucial insights into learner engagement and program outcomes that enable you to refine your programs and maximize ROI.
WorkRamp’s platform makes it simple to measure learner performance, identify skill gaps and pain points, track training- or certification-related deadlines, and keep tabs on what topics are being searched most frequently. That means you can make strategic, data-driven decisions about your L&D programs.
Make LMS implementation easy
An LMS is a significant investment—but it also delivers significant rewards for your business, from decreased turnover and increased employee satisfaction to higher productivity, better performance, and lower training costs.
The Leanring Cloud makes designing and launching your LMS fast and simple, delivering best-in-class content to upskill, reskill, and educate your people—all with the 24/7 convenience of on-the-go mobile accessibility.
Start leveling up your L&D today. Contact us to schedule a free, personalized demo and learn how your teams can benefit by implementing the Learning Cloud.
Complete the form for a custom demo.
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