Every week I talk to universities, colleges and districts that are considering migrating to a new learning management system (LMS). There’s a large scale shift taking place away from first generation learning platforms onto more innovative solutions. Institutions are looking for technology that is easier to use and can support the variety of learning models needed to address a more diverse student demographic.
Without question, the biggest concern we hear from institutions is that the migration and implementation process for a new LMS will be disruptive and complex. So we put together some effective practices from more than 15 years of experience that are designed to make this process as easy as possible. No matter what LMS you’re implementing, I think you’ll find this valuable.
Here are 6 key steps to make sure your LMS implementation goes smoothly:
Discover Your LMS and Plan for Success
From the very beginning, it’s important to discuss timelines and define expectations with your implementation team. Set up project kick-off meetings with all your stakeholders and be sure that everyone who will be involved is aligned and ready to go. This includes:
- Project kick-off
- Initial LMS access
Define Your Needs and Design Your LMS Solution
Your organization’s identity, culture, and people are the largest drivers of change and adoption. Your LMS consultant should facilitate discussions which allow them to capture and document these areas, including your vision, goals, success measurements, strategic initiatives, user stories and business processes. This information should be used to make smart decisions when designing and configuring your solution. This includes:
- Visioning workshop
- Needs analysis workshop
Build Your Solution and Enhance Your LMS
A strong foundation is important to sustaining growth and supporting change, and your LMS consultant should build this with you. Once your user stories have been documented, it’s time to configure your solution so that it aligns with these stories and supports your requirements, business processes, vision, and goals.
Your solution should be based on smart, contextual decisions that create this strong foundation. Your LMS consultant should provide you with a portfolio that has detailed information from the workshops, a summary of your requirements, along with configurations and recommendations. This includes:
- Solution design
- Solution configuration
- Solution review
Enable Your Team
Knowledge is power, and you want your team to have as much as they can handle (and more)! Your LMS project manager should provide a training agenda that aligns with your configured platform, user stories, and business needs. This will allow your team to get their hands dirty and explore their new platform with confidence. Your implementation team should set you up with your own trainer and work together to ensure that any newly documented requirements are captured and any updates to your platform configuration are completed. This includes:
- Course migration workshop
- Course migration support
At this point, you will have all the tools required to support course migration! Any required course package converters should be configured and ready to run. Course migration strategies and workflows should be reviewed, and course migration support should be offered by your implementation specialist.
Prepare for LMS Launch and Build Awareness
As you begin to prepare for your pilot and full launch, it’s important that you have all technical integrations, business processes, and other workflows reviewed and validated. This is a perfect opportunity to begin loading user and course data to support your pilot and launch. Implementation support should be available to assist with any questions or troubleshooting that may arise during this work effort. This includes:
- Implementation support
- Pilot check-in
You’ve made it to the starting line, and it is time to launch. That’s right; your journey is just beginning! Your LMS project team should work with you to review your launch plans and identify any last minute changes or requirements that need to be addressed to support a successful launch. This can be an anxious time, so knowing you can count on your LMS project and support teams is crucial. They should be available to answer any questions or resolve issues that arise. This includes:
- Post launch check-in
Once your launch is underway, keep the momentum going and take the time to plan future goals, set new initiatives, and build upon the foundation that you’ve created. Be sure to take advantage of your LMS’ learning strategy and consulting services that offer guidance and support to keep you moving forward.
There you have it! Six steps you should always keep in mind when starting an implementation project.