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Dive deep

LMS — The paradox of choice



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