Skip to main content

5 Barriers to Adopting an LMS—and How to Avoid Them

  • 4 Min Read

Learn how to overcome the five most common barriers to adopting an LMS at your organization.


Adopting a new learning management system (LMS) is a major organizational change that requires careful planning. Without a solid adoption strategy in place, yours could be one of the 70% of digital transformation initiatives that fail to reach their objectives.

If you’ve recently made the switch to D2L Brightspace or are thinking about doing it soon, here are five things to plan for so your adoption initiative succeeds.

1. Lack of Buy-in

Without buy-in from key stakeholders, most change initiatives are doomed to fail—and a new LMS is no exception. While the importance of support from executive leadership can’t be understated, resistance can come from anywhere in the organization. It’s important to remember that resistance to change is often rooted in legitimate concerns, so it’s critical to engage stakeholders from the start.

mentorship icon

Solution: Before you begin to build your strategy, it’s important to assemble an adoption team with representatives from every affected stakeholder group. Gathering input from the start not only makes everyone feel heard, but it also helps you create a shared vision for the change, while avoiding obstacles that are obvious to those stakeholders. Plus, getting those representatives onboard means you’ll have champions in each area to help with communication and gaining buy-in from their respective business units.

2. Undefined (or Unrealistic) Goals

Another barrier to LMS adoption is a lack of clarity about what you’re trying to achieve. Without specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and time-based goals—or SMART goals—there’s no way for people to know what they’re trying to achieve or why it’s important.

goal setting icon

Solution: Work with your stakeholder team to set adoption goals that align with the organizational learning strategy and business goals. There should be goals for the overall initiative, but you also need to set goals for each team that are relevant to their role in the initiative. Work together to ensure they are realistic—you can’t do everything at once, and you don’t want to lose the buy-in you’ve worked to build by aiming for targets that simply can’t be reached.

3. Ineffective Communication

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when implementing an adoption plan is to assume that people know what’s going on and why it’s important. Another huge mistake is treating communication as a one-way street. Without a clear message, a plan to share it, and mechanisms to collect and act on feedback, your adoption plans will fall short.

Feedback icon

Solution: Work with the adoption team to create a communication plan as you’re developing the overall plan and implementation milestones. The message needs to clearly share what’s happening, why it’s important to each target audience as well as the organization, and what you need each stakeholder group to do. You also need to build regular updates and check-ins into the plan so you can gather feedback on what’s working and what’s not and adjust your plan in real time.

4. Need for Training

Training is vital to LMS adoption. If people don’t know how to use your new platform, they won’t get value out of it—and neither will your organization.

Virtual Chat Icon

Solution: Be sure to include training in your adoption plan. Training should be designed to accommodate different skill levels, schedules and learning preferences. Offering in-person, online and blended learning options will help you reach everyone. One of the best ways to demonstrate the value of the LMS is to offer training within the system so stakeholders can practice what they’re learning. Any good technology provider will work with you on a plan to get everyone up to speed, so start with your vendor to avoid unnecessary work.

5. Maintaining Momentum

Treating adoption like a short-term project with a finite endpoint is sure to limit the value you get from the LMS.

Playbook icon

Solution: Envision your adoption plan as a cyclical process and you’ll never stop building on the gains you’ve made. Continuous adoption and development mean your organization will keep up with new features and tools, make more innovative and engaging courses, and ensure that your learners succeed. To do this, keep measuring your progress against the goals you’ve set, and as you achieve them, begin planning the next level. With each iteration, it gets easier and more efficient, since you know the steps involved and the people who can help you. Enabling organizational learning in this way demonstrates a growth mindset and is a great way to work toward cultivating a culture of learning at the organization.

It’s Not Too Late to Succeed With Brightspace

If you’re a Brightspace customer, it’s not too late to launch a new adoption plan. It might be a little harder, or it might feel like you’re going backward, but if you put the time and effort into these steps, the payoff will far outweigh the work.

Check out some of the amazing resources and support available to you in our eBook “Get More Out of Brightspace.”