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4 groups to contact before changing your LMS

Posted by Daniel Lynton on Fri, Oct 06, 2017

A man contacting a group to discuss changing his LMS

No LMS user works alone. Parting ways with your Learning Management System might affect your whole organization. Consulting your colleagues before making the transition to a new LMS will make the move easier, because they are going to have concerns, requirement, and many questions.

According to Brandon Hall Group, an HR consulting firm, the top three most important requirements for a new LMS are:

  1. Ease-of-use
  2. More robust reporting features/analytics
  3. Simple integration with systems

But the priorities will differ from department to department, and so will the concerns.

1. Administrators/HR/training department(s)

An administrator using her company's LMS

This team includes the heaviest users of an LMS. They’re in charge of time-intensive tasks like: 

  • Administering pre-employment tests to potential hires
  • Onboarding new employees
  • Tracking training progress and results
  • Corresponding with employees/users about progress, deadlines, etc.
  • Keeping up with certification and compliance management

Your training department will have valuable input for the LMS buying decision. If an LMS is working right, it is offloading and automating many administrative tasks, easing the burden on overwhelmed training personnel, and enabling them to be proactive rather than reactive.

HR/training will have questions like:

  • How do I create courses in the new system?
  • How long will it take me to feel comfortable using a new LMS?
  • We have some unique needs — will the new system be able to meet them?
  • What reporting features does the new LMS have?
  • How do I administer exams and track results?
  • Will I be able to change features I don’t like?
  • Is there a support team that I can ask for help?

2. IT department

An IT worker in a server room

The IT department will almost certainly be concerned by a system overhaul. They may have spent years supporting the old system, hosting courses and collecting valuable user information. Here are some issues they might raise:

  • What security issues will a new LMS introduce?
  • Will I be able to securely transfer data to a new system? How?
  • Will I be able to extract my content off this new platform? How?
  • Do I get FTP access to the new system?
  • How will I move user account information?
  • How much customization is available?
  • Will the new system integrate with our workflow (billing service, classroom portal, project management tool, marketing platform, etc.)?
  • How much maintenance and on-going administration will be necessary?
  • What’s the estimated start-up time?
  • Will the new system provide end-user tech support? 

3. Managers 

A manager with a worker

Managers typically make the final call on the breakup (is it you?). They’re looking at bottom lines, but they are also aware of how an LMS affects the working environment—both negatively and positively.

Here are some points they will be considering:

  • Will a new system help us sell our content faster and more effectively?
  • How will the new system differ from the old one? Will it be better?
  • How much is it going to cost?
  • Does it offer flexible pricing (prepaid course codes, pay-as-you-go, etc.)?
  • Will the new system collect data about users and potential customers? Will it be easy or difficult to comply with the 2018 GDPR regulations?
  • Will it meet our unique business requirements?
  • What cost/time savings will it bring us? 

4. Learners

An employee using his company's LMSDon’t forget the end users! Changing your LMS will affect the learners who depend on the system to deliver and support courses. If they won’t use the system, the system won’t work for you.

Do you consult with them regarding an impending LMS breakup? It depends on your business model—the users might even be the ones pushing hardest for a new system. Regardless, they will notice the change. You will want to prepare them for the transition and have a plan to administer to their needs during the changeover. Here are some questions that might come up:

  • Does your new LMS offer end-user tech support?
  • What is your change management plan?
  • How and when will you prepare your end users for the transition?
  • Will we need additional training to use the new system?

United in the face of change

Transitioning to a new LMS will be smoother when you have the support of everyone involved. This can, however, take some effort. The Balance, a financial empowerment firm, offers some additional tips on reducing employee resistance to change.

Pro Tip

Include your potential new LMS partner in these conversations. One sign of a strong LMS partnership is a willingness to engage with and competently speak to all levels of concerns.

Changing your LMS? 6 tips for a smooth transition

Topics: lms tips, learning management





Changing your LMS? 6 tips for a smooth transition

Posted by Daniel Lynton on Thu, Oct 05, 2017

A person thinking about leaving their LMS

Leaving your LMS is like breaking up. In the end, the decision may come down to how well your system helps you improve people’s lives and jobs by sharing the knowledge and skills they can use. If your LMS is not helping this mission, it may be time to break up.

When something has made you continually unhappy or unsatisfied with your current system, you contemplate ending the relationship and moving to something new. 

Change can be intimidating. You’ve already invested years of learning and practice in your current LMS, and wonder how a new one will compare. However, before you allow worries to cloud your vision for a new and improved LMS, consider these tips for creating a smooth transition:

1. Involve your whole team

A team working on transitioning to a new LMS

Transitioning to a new LMS will involve your whole team.

You may have made the decision to change, but now everybody needs to be cheering on the new LMS. Make a pact as a team to give your new LMS a honeymoon phase, when you appreciate its finer points while adapting to a new system. Challenge your team to fully understand how the new LMS accomplishes a task before comparing it to the old system. 

The support of your team and its ability to embrace change will create a much smoother transition. The Balance, a financial empowerment firm, offers some additional tips on reducing employee resistance to change.

2. Promote engagement early and often

A person engaging with their LMS

Learning a new system involves more than attending a training seminar or reading a handbook. It requires engaging with the application over time. In addition to ensuring your team is trained on the LMS, emphasize that it must be used often. If you allocate time each week for your employees to work with the new system, their learning curve will be shorter and the transition smoother.

Happy employees engage with their LMS on a regular basis. They know their results depend on their effort, so they take the time to learn. 

Some businesses come to us concerned about adopting a new LMS because of retention problems—which are the greatest concern for business leaders in 2017, according to a study by Future Workplace and Kronos. They are in a cycle where turnover is high and tenure can be shorter than the time it takes to become proficient in their LMS.

In our experience, those companies are happily surprised to find that retention improves when employees are trained on an LMS that fits their needs. Getting your employees properly trained increases job satisfaction and reduces turnover. 

The vicious HR cycle can be broken, but engagement with the LMS is key to success.

 

3. Take the time you need 

At first, your new LMS may feel unfamiliar and uncomfortable. You won’t know where to find that button or how to track that class. You might feel frustrated and even miss the familiarity of your old system. According to Learning Solutions Magazine, it can take from six to 12 months to get fully comfortable.

Then it happens—with time and practice, you become a power user of your new LMS. The new system meets your initial needs, and then fulfills those other, unforeseen requirements that always appear. These additional features are the main reason organizations make an LMS change, according to eLearning Industry.

Infographic from eLearning Industries

Image source: eLearning Industry

 

4. Get the support you need

When transitioning to a new LMS, questions will arise. Some of your team members will learn from the manual, others will need training sessions, and others will do best through trial and error. Your new LMS should accommodate different learning styles, and offer long-term support. 

Poor customer support is a common reason organizations change their LMS, according to Training magazine.

Reasons to change your LMS

If you dreaded picking up the phone or asking for a new functionality with your old LMS, knowing it would end in a large bill or unresolved issue, make sure such support is a requirement with your new provider. 

5. Get personal attention from the LMS provider

Make sure your LMS provider knows who you are. This will significantly shorten your transition time and increase your satisfaction with the new system. Even if you are accustomed to having to rattle off an account number or explain your problem nine times each time you call LMS support, make sure it’s a different experience this time.

You deserve a dedicated trainer, customer service representative, and account manager, who are ready to assist you.

You want them familiar with your setup and focused on your project, so that you can get straight to the point each time you call.

This familiarity also creates a smooth transition from your LMS implementation team to tech support. If six months later, you can’t remember something from training or you finally start using a feature, you’ll know whom to ask and be sure he/she will remember your case.

6. Focus on the gains 

A person contemplating changing their LMS, focusing on the gains.

Focus on what you have to gain. The return on your investment won’t be measured only in dollars, but also in a happier team, happier clients, and simpler processes.

If something is missing from your current system, changing your LMS is worth it. When your LMS fits your needs, you get

  • More free time
  • More reliable information
  • Easier reporting to management

This makes it possible for you to achieve your team's goals—making sure your learners get the knowledge and skills they need.

 

Topics: lms tips, learning management





How an LMS helps you sell your content

Posted by susan reuter on Fri, Aug 18, 2017

Two people using Prosperity LMS to sell content

You’ve created the content. Now comes the next step—getting it online and selling. If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you dread getting bogged down with administrative tasks. 

And getting bogged down is easy. There’s always a meeting, a phone call, or a crisis. According to a survey from The Alternative Board, average entrepreneurs spend more than two thirds of their time working on day-to-day tasks and less than one third working on business goals and strategy.

A Learning Management System (LMS) helps you change this ratio and focus on what you do best—training. All you have to do is upload the content.

We’ve broken it down into five ways an LMS can help you sell: 

1. Gets your content online

Entrepreneur describes an LMS as a software platform that “delivers, manages, and tracks results, and generates reports for online courses and training programs.” 

This means your ideas, concepts, and content get online—fast. This allows you to reach more prospective students and train more people in more places. 

Whether you sell courses to 50-person startups or you manage certification training for 50,000 association members, an LMS helps you tackle that first step—getting your content organized and online. 

2. Offers flexible pricing

In addition to customizing the function of an LMS, many also allow you to customize the course pricing. This allows you to use the pricing system that makes sense for you. 

Do you offer a single course or test for one-time customers? Are you selling a six-month certification program where people log in regularly to complete assignments? Are you always flooded with inquiries in January? 

A flexible LMS, moreover, will charge you based on the pricing model you need, and the volume and behavior of your customers. You should not have to pay more for a program that’s designed to fit another business.

Here are some example pricing options:
  • Prepaid course codes
  • Pay-as-you-go
  • Base hosting fee + price per student
  • Support bundles
  • Packaged pricing bundles

3. Provides support for your customers

So you have your content online and you’ve chosen an LMS that works for your business. Now what?

Customers and potential students will have questions. Technical issues will arise. And in order to be successful, you’ll need the time and resources to quickly respond.

According to a 2016 Forrester survey, 63 percent of companies prioritized investing in new technology to improve customer experience. Your LMS can be this technology.

An LMS partner can handle the student support for you, saving you time and money. Many programs have built-in email clients to broadcast messages to students and potential customers. They can also automatically alert students about additional courses and approaching certification deadlines.

4. Collects valuable data

At each customer interaction, an LMS collects data. Did the student create an account, but fail to sign up for a class? Did a potential customer spend time researching your program, but abandon the shopping cart?

 This information gives insight about your students and potential customers. The students who create accounts but don’t add courses can become your prospect list—you already know they are interested. By tracking the learning performance, you can determine if the course needs updating. If you’re struggling for enrollments, you can reshape your content or remarket the course. 

eLearning Industry identifies five types of LMS data to extract:
  • Completion rates
  • Learner performance and progress
  • Assessment scores
  • Learner surveys
  • Peer-based feedback

5. Accommodates your business requirements

So what happens if you’re offering a certification program, but the requirements change? What if you have customers in different states with different requirements? 

Some LMSs can automatically track certifications that vary by state and industry—lifting the burden of compliance monitoring. These areas could include criminal records, credit checks, medical records, and professional licensing.

Using automated alert and email systems, an LMS can notify customers of these changes and impose deadlines for ensuring they are met. 



Ziiva_lms_checklist-a.jpg

Let's get started
If your goal is selling courses and content, an LMS may be the perfect tool to automate tedious administrative tasks, increasing your efficiency and success.

To help you get started, we have created a checklist to help you prioritize your needs and desires, so you can navigate the hundreds of LMS choices and find what fits you best. This checklist is intended to be personalized to YOU, not a particular LMS.

Get the LMS Checklist

Topics: lms, e learning software, training, computer based training, web based training





Don't let overwhelm hurt your training and onboarding programs

Posted by susan reuter on Fri, Aug 11, 2017

You were drawn to HR and training work because you’re passionate about helping people—developing new courses for them, registering them for training, and empowering them to do their best work.

Does your to-do list look like this?

Manage and track online courses, Manage training, Track training, Email students about deadlines, Organize course/content materials, Sell and deliver my content, Find a way to track eLearning content, Administer and track compliance, Track compliance audits, Report on training initiatives to management, Research LMS selection and LMS feature list, FIND A WAY TO DO ALL OF THESE BETTER.

But YOU can’t do YOUR job if the length of your to-do list is mind-stutteringly long.

Unfinished tasks are piling up. Your job description has silently (malignantly) expanded overnight, while your resources and time are still the same… or wait… are they shrinking?

How is there less time when you are working more? Nights and weekends on the clock,  checking email before you’re even out of bed.

This unhappy asymmetry is a symptom of the always-connected-24/7-work environment. It’s infecting the workplaces and headspaces of HR and training professionals across the country, funneling them into a dark place…

Welcome to overwhelm.

You know what really sucks here? Employees who are cognitively overloaded are dramatically less productive.

According to research from professional services firm Towers Watson, employees suffering from high stress levels are less engaged, less productive, and miss more work than those not working under intense pressure.

It’s particularly vicious for HR, because if you can't do your job, the whole organization limps to a bleeding halt.

What happened to my day?

How many times did you check your email or social media? How many things are you doing at the same time, and how many of them did you actually accomplish?

Studies show that people check their mobile devices 150 times a day. They receive 122 messages every day, and spend a quarter of their day reading and answering them. At work, 57 percent of interruptions result from the use of social media or switching among different stand-alone tools and applications.

What happened to my productivity?

The always-connected-24/7-work environment is overwhelming workers, undermining productivity, and contributing to low employee engagement, according to Deloitte’s 2014 Global Human Capital Trends report.

And it hurts the whole company: according to the Deloitte report, “This constant and frenetic level of activity also costs money, perhaps $10 million a year for mid-size companies.”

Psychiatrist Edward Hallowell, an expert on attention-deficit disorders (ADD), suggests that modern workplace stressors induce “attention deficit trait (ADT),” with symptoms similar to those  of ADD.

“[ADT] is brought on by the demands on our time and attention that have exploded over the past two decades. As our minds fill with noise—feckless synaptic events signifying nothing—the brain gradually loses its capacity to attend fully and thoroughly to anything,” writes Hallowell.

What happened to my poor monkey brain?

On a good day, your prefrontal cortex is the master of ceremonies of your life, which means you’re going about the business of supporting and managing your people.

But when you’re feeling anxious and overwhelmed, your calm, capable HR cool can evaporate, and your co-workers are rudely introduced to your secret “evil-twin” personality.

In evil-twin mode, your amygdala and the lower regions of your brain are flooded with a hormone called cortisol, which primes your body for fight or flight. This is a great hormone if you’re running away from a bear, but high levels of cortisol over long periods of time can wreak havoc on your brain, hindering your capacity for rational thought.

What to do? What to do?

Go ahead and wring your hands a few times, take a deep breath and

…prioritize your tasks

What jobs are time-critical? And which ones are you most dreading? Do those first.

…break your big projects into small steps

Focus on one manageable piece at a time, and celebrate each mini-victory.

…delegate or reject tasks

Step aside for a moment and see what jobs you can delegate or officially postpone.

…get some help

Don’t suffer in silence — it’s hard to meet goals when you’re in survival mode. Talk to your managers about your priorities, resources, and job description.

If your to-do list is still hideous, it’s time to enlist some digital assistance and implement or update your Learning Management System (LMS). A good LMS can streamline your processes, offload administrative work, and eliminate repetitive tasks.

Imagine a workday where employees were synchronized with an LMS.

  • Users of your system are automatically assigned training based on their jobs
  • Reminder emails and reports are sent autonomously
  • You are automatically tracking/applying continuing credits and certifications
  • You don’t have to provide technical support to your users.
  • You’re working with an experienced implementation and support team with deep corporate knowledge

You have time to do your real job! You are no longer personally signing people up for courses, sending reminders, tracking certifications—or making sure which state has what requirements.

Yes, there are a lot of systems to choose from (more than 500!) but don’t panic. We’ve got you covered.

We put together an LMS checksheet that will help you articulate the LMS feature list and requirements that would best meet your needs.

Happy de-stressing, and be sure to take it one step at a time.

 

Topics: employee training, training development, learning management systems, global human trends





LMS — The paradox of choice

Posted by susan reuter on Fri, Aug 04, 2017

An image showing a hand tapping several options superimposed over a blurred person using a computer

So you are considering a Learning Management System (LMS). Whether you are a first-time LMS user, or looking to upgrade, you know it will help you keep organized and minimize administrative overload, ultimately helping your company meet its defined goals and realize its return on investment. 

But with 500+ platforms on the market today, which one should you pick?

Sometimes the process of choosing an LMS can overwhelm you before you even begin. Do you need one that manages and tracks online courses or one that administers pre-employment tests? Do you need it to simplify the onboarding process or report on training initiatives?

This problem is not unique to the training industry. People in every market struggle to make decisions when they’re overwhelmed with choices. TVs come in a variety of displays, ports, sizes and price ranges. Smartphones are offered by multiple providers and come in a variety of colors, display options, storage sizes and qualities. While it’s good to have options, studies have shown that too many choices can prevent you from making a decision altogether. 

Overwhelming choices

One of the most famous experiments in consumer psychology, called the Jam Study proved this point in 2000. It found that consumers were 10 times more likely to purchase a jar of jam on display when the number of flavors was reduced from 24 to 6. College psychologist Barry Schwartz calls this the Paradox of Choice. He argues that paralysis is a consequence of having too many choices.

When people feel overwhelmed by a decision, they simply won’t make one at all. Schwartz further explains, “The second effect is that even if we manage to overcome the paralysis and make a choice, we end up less satisfied with the result of the choice than we would be if we had fewer options to choose from.”

The best way to avoid this problem is to narrow your choices from the start (see our LMS checklist).

Envisioning your dream LMS

That’s easy to say and often hard to do — especially when you’re not sure what you need an LMS to do.

Start by envisioning your dream system.

Does it offload administrative tasks and automate messaging to users? Does it ensure customers can easily understand your offerings and access a support team? Does it automate alerts for compliance needs and track continuing certifications? These tasks fall into three general LMS functions: 

  • Liberate your time
  • Lift the burden of tracking and compliance monitoring
  • Achieve hassle-free results

Identifying your needs and dreaming up your ideal tool are the first steps toward pinpointing your unique LMS system requirements.

Determining your unique requirements

Once you’ve narrowed down your LMS selection choices by dreaming up the perfect system, it’s time to think about your specific needs. Do you lack the administrative skill level to implement, manage and integrate an LMS? Is it important to have the system be installed on your own network? Answering these questions will help you determine which is best: an out-of-the-box product that gets you up and running quickly, or a customized version that gives you exactly what you need. Here are some key differentiators:

SaaS (Software as a Service) LMS
  • Cost effective
  • External hosting
  • Maintenance and updates
  • Fast implementation
Custom LMS
  • Consistent branding
  • Additional capabilities
  • Seamless integration

While SaaS platforms have become increasingly popular, they aren’t the best fit for every organization, says Knowledge Anywhere’s Sara Johnson. Deciding which LMS solution is right for your needs comes down to budget, time frame, and IT capabilities. 

Ready to integrate

Choosing your LMS is half the battle.  People are overwhelmed by the number of options in the $2.5 billion industry, and often take up to six months to decide to place an order.

Narrowing down the number of options is key to choosing the right LMS and avoiding the paradox of choice. If you can envision your dream system and identify your unique needs, you’ll be one step closer to implementation.

Let us help you get started with our checklist: What to know before you commit to an LMS.

Topics: lms tips, lms learning