You can probably take a deep breath after your selection of LMS vendors has been made. But don’t get too comfortable before the implementation begins. During the time period between the selection and the signing of contracts, start moving forward on conducting some final due diligence in relation to the LMS, its functionality, its specifications, and the vendor. First, let’s discuss contracts.
Most organizations have a legal counsel that reviews contract documents before they are signed. But you most certainly want to review the contracts yourself, especially if the legal counsel was not involved in vendor selection. This may go without saying, but sometimes the temptation exists to let legal do all of the heavy lifting when it comes to contracts. In addition to the legal review, consider having a contract specialist from IT or another area review the documents.
When you begin your own contract review, look for the general specifications of your organization’s LMS setup, as well as the functions you plan to purchase and use. Obviously a glaring omission on either your part or the vendor’s part is a reason to have the contracts rewritten. But also take the time to compare your contract to your original business analysis list, just to make sure you’ve included all of the functionality you needed. It’s easy to let more minor needs slip through the cracks when it’s time to write the contracts.
Another area of the contract to review are the costs that may be associated with certain actions either now or in the future. For example, although you may have everything you need for the implementation, the organization may find it needs further functionality down the road. Review the contract for additional cost and how those costs are factored; there may be a consultation fee plus an hourly charge for development, or there may simply be a fee for the customization. If your vendor will charge hourly fees for customizations, go back to your network or colleagues to see if any of them had to customize their LMS after it was implemented. This way, you’ll have an idea of the time it takes for a software developer to customize your setup. Also, look for any costs that may be incurred for minor changes during the setup and implementation. Reporting is another area that may be costly to change. For example, if your organization finds that it needs a particular report that is not in the standard report base, the customization is just like making a software change. In other words, the addition of one custom report can cost just as much as making changes to your LMS on an hourly software developer basis. A built-in general course library is a great resource, especially for time-sensitive training that doesn’t have to be customized to your organization. But be sure you understand how and if your organization will have access to the LMS vendor’s generic course library. If so, determine if the library is part of your initial costs or if you will be charged on a per-user basis in the future.
In relation to technical specifications, have your internal IT person review the spec documentation to look for any issues. In fact, you may want to set up a meeting between the LMS vendor’s technical representative and yours – this gives them some time to discuss potential issues and plan the technical rollout. Plus, if these groups meet before the implementation, they can easily head off problems when time is vitally important to the LMS rollout.
One of the final pieces of additional due diligence is project planning. Whether you are the project manager or you have a professional project manager assigned, take the time to create a plan for the LMS rollout. From this plan, you should have a good idea of your timeline and you should also be able to see if the vendor is going to be able to meet it. Along those lines, request a project plan from your vendor, as well. With both an internal and external project plan, you can make comparisons, make adjustments, and work to conclude the implementation phase smoothly and efficiently.
Next, we will discuss the initial build out, data population, and installation of your LMS.