The Challenges of an LMS Implementation

 

Rod Bryce-Senior AccountRod Bryce - Senior Account Executive at D2L

Rod Bryce from D2L (Desire 2 Learn), the creators of Brightspace— a pioneer of LMS solutions— sits down with me to discuss Learning Management Systems. Why are they essential in today’s environment? Who needs one?  And, the best way to get started.

Deciding to onboard a new Learning Management System for your organization has its complexities so leave it to the experts to guide you through the process. With over 700 different solutions to choose from, Petra Mayer and Associates Consulting can assist in narrowing it down to the perfect solution for your business needs – whatever they may be.

Listen to this informative interview below!

For more information for your LMS project contact us:

Connect with Petra: petra@pegramayerconslting.com

Connect with Rod: rod.bryce@d2l.com

 

Transcript:

Petra:

Hello everybody, I’m Petra Mayer at Petra Mayer and Associates Consulting. And, I am super thrilled today to have with me Rod Bryce from D2L. Rod is the strategic account executive with D2L Corporation. And, D2L of course, has an LMS called Brightspace. So, I wanted to tap into Rod’s knowledge here, his expertise, and his vast experience, and talk a little bit about Learning Management Systems. So Rod, let’s get started with: what is an LMS?

Rod:

A great, great question. Great spot to start. And, thank you very much for having me Petra, very excited to be speaking with you here today. So yeah, an LMS. I mean, really, it stands for Learning Management System. But ultimately, it’s a platform that’s specifically designed for organizations that value development as a key driver of their success. So learning can mean, you know, many different things for various organizations. But fundamentally, you know, it’s very, very important in many different ways.

Petra:

So when we’re looking at a learning management system, you said, it’s for development? So who needs an LMS?

Rod:

Yeah, no, great question. So I mean, I’m going to say everybody needs an LMS. Right, but let’s start with a classic example. So obviously, schools right? So D2L, you know, we have a very, very strong presence in the, in the educational space. That is, that is our background, but you know, so can kindergarten through grade 12, or, let’s say universities and colleges, right? So, an LMS platform can be used as the central hub for all that classroom, traditional classroom experience, everything from class materials, to group assignments, you know, discussion forums amongst classmates, knowledge checks, formal assessments, that type of thing, you know? In the corporate setting in which I work, so I basically work with, with, organizations that are not a school, right, but continuous learning and development’s extremely important as well. So first off, I’ll say, you know, upwards of, I think it’s now in 2020, projections show that 50% of the workforce is now millennials, right? And I’d like to focus on that demographic just for a second, because they’re keenly, keenly, interested in their professional development, right? In fact, it’s, it’s, it’s studies have shown that they’re actually more interested in terms of their professional development than they might be in terms of actual salaries or vacation benefits, I think the thing, right, so it’s, it’s extremely, extremely important.

So maybe I’ll just elaborate a little further than. So, I mean, in terms of internal employee development, right? So again, in the corporate space, organizations that just may need to onboard their employees, beyond just the standard compliance in the company mission, knowledge checks, that sort of thing. But onboarding employees are the transfer of knowledge and capturing that existing subject matter expertise, right? That tribal knowledge that exists within organizations, right, and dispersing and sharing that information throughout the organization.

Other organizations, their entire business model might be an extending what we call an extended enterprise use case, right? Where they, you know, might be a business to business type training model, so many consulting organizations where they offer training services. And really, I mean, obviously, within the last year, given the COVID pandemic, right, their business has had to shift fundamentally, right, because it’s just, it’s kind of evaporated, although the classroom training so to speak, right? So, organizations like that. Certification organizations, regulatory bodies, that type of thing. And then, you know, another one I’ll throw out there is associations as well, right? So associations, they have huge requirements to engage their membership provides value, encourage member collaboration. So there’s, there’s a few examples in terms of who I believe need an LMS.

Petra:

Yeah, and you’re speaking to a few specific examples that I certainly have had some engagement with, if it’s the organization’s or even if it’s the consultants, the professional advisors, who are now engaging with their staff or not their staff, but their clients in a different way. So really looking at clients, staff, as well as maybe even distribution channels, looking at how can we use and engage with them in a way? And how can we keep them up to date with the products and services?

So from my experience with a variety of system implementation projects, these type of projects when we’re implementing a new system can be really quite complex. And I am quite curious, what drives the complexity when we’re looking at an LMS implementation?

Rod:

Right, yeah, look I mean, you’re right these projects can vary in complexity, I mean, size, and size and scope can vary significantly given you know, based on certain factors such as age of starting number of users, right, or learners, shall we say? And, the amount and the type of content right? So what are we talking about an organization that is trying to reach potentially, you know, 200 of their employees or membership Association, right with, with 10,000 members. They’re trying to reach engage, right? And then I think next a lot of questions around, you know, the type of learner experience that they want to deliver. So do they want to deliver a completely asynchronous independent self-paced learning experience, or more of a synchronous experience or potentially a blended or a hybrid model type approach, right? And then, in terms of, you know, integrations then often become a point of conversation for implementations, right? Like, what other platforms are we trying to pull in within their existing technology ecosystem? So I mean, yeah, they can certainly vary greatly in terms of complexity.

Petra:

And I mean, you were speaking to a few things. Content, of course, which is a different part of the organization, then understanding the learners or the connection, HR, if it is internal people, or then systems, which really requires the IT department. So there’s a whole lot of people who will get involved in that sort of an implementation. Have you seen that in your, in your projects?

Rod:

Yeah, definitely. I mean, we certainly have, you know, certain key project resources that we highlight, right? To ensure a successful implementation. But you’re right, I mean, depending again, on the size of the organization that we’re working with, but to your point, all of those particular departments and considerations are vastly important.

Petra:

So when do, clients you have a lot of experience with, D2L implementations and a variety of different clients? What do they typically struggle in a project like this? When they say, Oh, we need an LMS? So let’s go get D2L. And then where are the difficulties that are typically showing up in a project like that?

Rod:

Yeah, interesting question. I mean, it’s something that I get all the time in, in their discovery conversations. I mean, I get it all the time. It’s like, right, you know, what we just don’t know what we don’t know, we’re really kind of looking to you, right, to leverage your team’s expertise and your guidance on this one. So, you know, several, you know, several factors or struggles that I encounter frequently and be one resource. Right. So, especially for those organizations that might be a little leaner than on that resourcing depends on the size of their team and their projects. Secondly, I mean, oftentimes, conversations around you know, just configuring the system, right? Configuration settings, setting up the different sites, I can, I have different sites for different departments or different org unit, shall we say? Right, all uniquely branded to satisfy different requirements, of course creation, which we’ve touched on a little bit. Another one is e-commerce. I work with a lot of organizations where they’re, they’re looking to drive a revenue stream from, from their, from their content from their material from their expertise. So that’s oftentimes a conversation we’ll have and then, and then data migration, whether it be potentially just in, in, you know, sitting in a OneDrive somewhere or a bunch of Excel files, right, or more formal LMS coming forward. So those are all kind of, you know, factors and initial trouble points that, that I tend to talk through in discovery conversations.

Petra:

Yeah. And I think all of these resonate with me, I’ve seen them all happening with my clients as well. Another one, I think, that I’ve seen a lot is change management, is really even getting people to be enthusiastic about this new opportunity, the new platform, that they have a new way of how they engage with their staff, their clients, their distribution channels. There’s so many opportunities, but to really get people to tap into that, that’s, that seems like a project on its own.

Rod:

Yeah, no, you’re absolutely right. And I know you do a lot of work in that area as well. Right. But I mean, in terms of, yeah, ensuring that they have a successful roadmap out into the future and adoption plan, right, a communication plan. But everything you touched on Petra, is important.

Petra:

Yeah. Now we talked about if a company gets an LMS for the first time, of course, there’s lots of challenges. What if they want to move from one LMS to another? Do the challenges kind of shift? And how do they shift?

Rod:

Yeah, I mean, there’s certainly challenges to address there. And I certainly don’t want to scare people if they’re right, if you’re considering an LMS. I mean, in general, it’s fairly easy to move from one LMS to another. But you know, challenges do exist, such as a) organizational adoption being one. We just kind of touched on that right? But in terms of, you know, an organization just being so used to doing something a certain way, right, even though that the UAE might be better, right? There’s always a bit of a change management curve, it always gets worse before it gets better type of thing, right? It’s Yeah, I’m sure that you’ve had to help organizations through in the past. Content migration is another one. So that’s certainly one consideration, you know, some LMS platforms, existing platforms that organizations might have, they may not have access to their content. So that can be a frustrating situation to find yourself in. So that’s something I’d encourage all organizations to look into where they won’t actually allow you to export out your existing content, which is most unfortunate. Not the case with the D2L by the way, and then even potentially capturing historical records, right? That’s another one, they, they may have been with an existing platform for many, many years. They don’t want to lose that historical data. And so, you know, that’s something that we can work with. Oftentimes, it’s stored potentially in an HR system as a system of record, or source of truth. But, you know, the LMS can also be leveraged for that as well. So there’s a few, a few factors off the top of my head.

Petra:

So definitely lots of options, lots of things that one needs to look into, with all these challenges that organization go through. And I realize we don’t want to scare them off, we actually do believe, both of us do believe strongly, that having the right system and the right platform is so important for delivering the learning to your staff members, your clients or your distribution channels. With all these challenges, what are the benefits that the LMS can give them over what they might have now?

Rod:

Right, yeah, no, I’m with you there, Petra, wholeheartedly. I mean, obviously, it’s all about return on investment, right? There’s got to be benefits to the organization to embark on such a transformation. And, and absolutely, so I mean, you know, I think there’s a long list of benefits. One thing I’ll say, if I could just share a couple of stats, I know, like, recently, PwC Canada ran a report that says 74% of people are really ready to learn, they’re keen to learn new skills, right? And then 54% of business and HR leaders say they don’t actually have the program to build those skills within, you know, within the organization. So, you know, from our perspective, we as an organization is focused exclusively on learning with our platform, Brightspace, right? And we, you know, we strongly believe that it leads to increase productivity, lower employee turnover, right, higher employee retention, because employee turnover costs significant amounts of dollars for organizations, increased membership for associations, right? So again, engaging those members, providing greater value associations for instance, can grow their membership base, transforming knowledge, tribal knowledge that I referred to earlier, right? There’s so much subject matter expertise within these organizations, right? Capturing that knowledge and imparting that on the rest of the organization. Certificate, certification programs, right? So, ensure your employees prove that your employees are actually qualified. Say, for instance, as an engineer being deployed out on a jobsite right, but at the same time, I mean, you know, we work with companies that are actually protecting themselves from penalties and fines, right? Ensuring that their employees have the qualifications to, to install the job or whatever that might be, or from a health and safety perspective, right? Like delivery of mandatory health and safety training on this is kind of a job, job site construction site use case, right? But a) again, just ensuring everybody stays safe and is properly trained. But also, I mean, from an ROI perspective, lots of cost savings in terms of in person delivery, you know, classroom security, that type of thing.

Petra:

Yeah, and I think what you’re speaking to a lot of it comes through the, the impressive tracking ability of learning management systems, because, yes, we can train them outside of an LMS, for sure. But then how do we track? How do we document that, particularly when you’re talking about health and safety? For example, how would you document if you take somebody through a workshop, that they actually have gotten enhanced skills at the end of this workshop? And you were, you were speaking to this earlier, as well, the transformation that we’ve just gone through 2020? Now we’re beginning of 2021. And, we’re looking into a future where maybe yes, we, perhaps at the end of the year can get back together into a classroom. But I think expectations have changed. I think organizations will address training differently going forward.

Rod:

I absolutely agree. Again, wholeheartedly. I mean, I think, you know, it’s changed. It’s changed forever, right? The way learning is changed. I’m not saying there’s absolutely a time and place for a classroom. Absolutely right. But it’s not like we’re going to go back to the way it was. So I do agree. I think a lot of organizations have made a pivot for the future. There’s other ones that are in the process of doing that, right? But, but learning, learning online is not going away.

Petra:

I totally agree. I also you were talking about earlier, a synchronous versus synchronous and blended approach. So there is so much flexibility, no training program has to be the same as, as another training program, we can be very creative and unique and, and also standout with what we’re delivering for our, for our staff or for clients. Now is every LMS for everyone?

Rod:

Right, um, great question. So I’m gonna say no, you know, definitely not. It kind of depends what, what you’re after, so to speak. So, again, we’re an organization focused exclusively on learning, right? We’re kind of one of the originals, if you will. We’ve been doing this for over 21 years with lots of expertise. And our entire platform has been designed to be easy, both from the learner and the administrative perspective. But it’s ultimately geared towards ensuring learner outcomes, which is what we’re keenly focused on. That being said, I mean, there are upwards I think, last I checked, 700 different little corporate LMSs out there. Right. So obviously, you know, some of them are very specifically niche focused, right. And I’m guessing, you know, obviously, there’s a, there’s a need in the market. So there’s lots to choose from, I would just encourage, you know, your, you know, organizations out there that are looking to do a deep dive evaluation, solicit the assistance from potentially someone like yourself Petra, right? They can help organizations through this type of transition.

Petra:

Yeah. And I think what you’re speaking to is an area that I have worked with my clients on, which is kind of the needs assessment and really understanding what it is that you’re looking for before you dive into analyzing 700 LMS’s. Good luck with that. I mean, it’s really finding the system that supports your, your goals and objectives the most. And I think, Rod, what you were saying earlier with your focus on learning, and your focus on learning outcome, so that kind of makes you stand above the crowd. You’re not trying to solve every HR issue that a company might have, you’re very specifically focusing on taking a learner in the best possible way through their learning experience, and providing the platform that supports that.

Rod:

Yeah, no, we absolutely are. That’s well, well said. I mean, you mentioned HR systems as well, right? Oftentimes, you know, these larger, larger corporate HR systems have a learning module, if you will, right, as well. But we find ourselves just given our exclusive focus again, and expertise in the learning, we can very easily bolt on to platforms such as that as well. So very easy to integrate in the existing ecosystems.

Petra:

Okay, so let’s say a company wants to get started on this, then listening to this and say, Okay, I need an LMS. Rod says, I need this. Petra says, I need this. So off I go, what are the criteria that they should consider when selecting an LMS?

Rod:

Right. I mean, I guess it really obviously depends on kind of what they’re looking for. But there could be a long list of criteria for that to be considered. So I mean, I’ll just, I guess, throw some out there. content authoring the one rarely do you want to kind of have control over the content that you’re creating in the platform? I mean, how about video, right? So video is just everything is on video, right? Everybody goes to YouTube to search something up and learn how to, learn how to clean your toaster right there looking at YouTube videos, right? So leveraging video is extremely important. And it engages your employees, right?

The type of assessments and exams, right? So I mean, look at the quizzing engine or the testing functionality of a particular platform, right?

Proctoring. So if it’s a high stakes certification, you want to validate somebody, you know, identity as they’re taking, and then kind of monitor right, so what degree of proctoring, if any, might be desired? And what type of experience we talked about synchronous, asynchronous hybrid, lots of flexibility there as you manage that. As you mentioned earlier, data and analytics, though, is one thing, right? So it’s not just delivering the training, but it’s also reporting back and analyzing how are we doing? Like, are our learners actually learning? Is there potentially a problem with our content? Or, is there potentially a problem with the way that some of our quizzes and certifications the wording is right, the content is great, but the quiz isn’t addressing it properly, right? So just being able to drive that data analytics, monitoring the progress of your learners through their experience.

E-commerce is another one, right? Few other ones we haven’t even talked about like cloud, right? Do you want a platform that runs on the cloud or you want to host it yourselves right on site? Multilingual languages, like your multinational organization, Brightspace, for instance, is translated into 18 languages. We operate all over the world.

Accessibility is not just being easy to use on a cell phone, or an iPad or a tablet, but accessible from an accessibility standards perspective, right?

Maintenance as well, right? Services and supports a long list of criteria that you should probably consider when looking at an LMS.

Petra:

Yeah, so that might be an overwhelming less than I know that you’re only scratching the surface. So if we really built out the whole list, it’s probably very long. If somebody came to you and asked, “where do I start?” What do you tell them?

Rod:

Right, I always say, hey, let’s have a conversation. I love talking to people, obviously. But I think it’s a conversation with somebody like me or somebody like you, right, Petra, and just in from that conversation and really want to understand what is the desired future state, maybe understand some of your existing pain points, obviously, then, and then what your organization’s success criteria might be right for, for, for a successful future with a new LMS platform? Yeah, I mean, it doesn’t have to be difficult, right? And, I think if you work with the expertise, and you solicit the expertise for a bit of assistance, you can be very much set up for success.

Petra:

Awesome, well, how would they get in touch with you about if they wanted to have that conversation with you?

Rod:

Right, yeah, very much appreciate that. So, again, it’s a D2L. D2L.com is our website and then rod.bryce@d2l.com is my email address. Would love to connect with, with any of your viewers, Petra.

Petra:

Thank you so much Rod, for being here, for sharing your insights into LMS, for giving people some things to think about if they are either thinking about starting with an LMS project, or perhaps you’re not happy with your LMS that you have right now and you want to check out what alternatives are there. How difficult is a transition from one system to another? You’ve heard Rod talk about that. It’s not that difficult. But you do need to have the resources in place I find very often in my projects with my clients, they don’t have the resources, they think they can put a project like this onto somebody else’s desk and that is very difficult. So get in touch with Rod, get in touch with me for your next LMS projects and we’d be happy to help. Thank you so much Rod for your time.

Rod:

Well, thanks for having me.

 

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

 

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