By Jennifer Busick
Tracking safety training is an important task for environment, health, and safety (EHS) managers, but it can be both time-consuming and difficult to keep up with. The right learning management system (LMS) can help. Guest columnist Jennifer Busick has more on choosing the right LMS for your company.
If you’ve ever chosen or had to work with a poorly designed, poorly supported electronic management and tracking system of any kind, you’ll know that implementing an LMS is not as simple as “computerizing everything.” You need to choose a system that works smoothly and suits your needs.
Here’s some advice.
Know What You Want Your System to Do
Today’s LMSs are capable of a lot of functionality, but you should define the functionality you need in your organization so that you can make sure the system you choose will perform the way you need it to.
Sean Tenney, lead training producer for BLR®, offered some advice about the kinds of functionality you can expect from a well-designed LMS.
First of all, an LMS should track any kind of training that your employees participate in. “LMSs, including TrainingToday® LMS, can track both eLearning, or ‘online training,’ in which employees take training on a computer, and [participate in] live training events. If employees participate in the training on a computer, everything can be automated, if it is live, some human intervention is required as far as inputting scores if there is a quiz, or checking off attendance,” Tenney says.
But those are not the only types of training workers participate in. “Some LMSs are also capable of tracking ‘virtual training,’” Tenney notes. “This could be, for instance, if you were to have multiple employees join a live event in a ‘GoToMeeting’ or ‘Skype’ type atmosphere, and also record information such as quiz scores.”
A good LMS should also eliminate a lot of your concerns about whether your workers are up-to-date on their training. An LMS can automate many aspects of the training process, like scheduling employees to take training at certain intervals and notifying supervisor if the training has not been completed. “If the training is electronic, it will automatically generate and log score, completion, time spent, and more,” Tenney advises.
An LMS should also provide the type of flexibility you’re looking for in an online training management system. If it’s fully integrated with your e-learning system, for example, does it have to be mobile friendly? Does it have to include content reusability features? Are gamification, social learning, and micro-learning a “must” for you?
Ensure that Your System Will ‘Play Nice’ with Others
Of course, your system won’t be terribly useful to you if it won’t integrate smoothly with other software and systems that are already in use in the workplace. When you’re looking at an LMS, Tenney recommends checking out its application program interface (API). “This is basically a way for one system to talk to another. If the LMS [h]as a full API, it can be integrated into virtually any system that is capable of that type of communication,” Tenney says. “Most of the systems today have this technology built in, and most ‘off-the-shelf’ LMSs have APIs already programmed for communicating with common business platforms, like HRIS [human resources information] systems, CRMs [customer relationship management], Storefronts, Social Media, WebEx,” and more.
What if the system you want doesn’t have its API preprogrammed for the system you want to communicate with—for example, your “homegrown” business system? Find out whether you have the in-house IT capability or the vendor support to develop it.
“There’s really almost no limit to what you can do today as far as tracking training with a Learning Management System,” says Tenney.