You’re either taking the plunge into your first learning platform, or your current system feels like the set of armbands you need to ditch now you’re ready for the development deep end. Either way, there’s a pool of questions you’ll need to ask before you can understand which learning platform will help you do more than just float.
The questions you need to ask yourself can be broken down into two categories: the bigger picture (the questions you need to ask about your needs) and the finer details (defining the platform capabilities required to satisfy those needs).
LMS, LXP or ILP?
Are you unsure what the difference is between an LMS and an LXP, maybe? Is this the right place for a lengthy explanation? Absolutely not. You came here for the questions that help you choose your platform! However, if you do need a reminder, here’s our take on the LMS vs. LXP situation. If ILP feels unfamiliar, that’s because it’s a pretty new term! An Intelligent Learning Platform, which is how we class HowNow, can offer a few things an LMS or LXP can’t, and we’ve covered those in that article too.
The questions below apply to all three. Our focus here is on your needs and working out what you need in the platform, not what that platform is.
The bigger picture: getting in touch with your learning needs
Which problems are you solving for people?
Your learning goals are directly linked to your business goals, because the ultimate idea is to develop skills that deliver a better customer experience. So, it makes sense to establish which problems you are aiming to solve and the people that are affected by this issue. That way, you can prioritise the problem in your learning strategy and the platform you choose.
Who are your learners?
The most important consideration should be your people! After all, a learning platform is only useful if people use it and it helps them progress.
Start with the job role or department your learners operate in. Is it the entire workforce or a particular team? Perhaps you’re working with customers, partners or resellers? Once you’ve established this, you can assess how those employees work and what they might need from a learning platform. If it’s a combination of teams and people, consider the differences between their needs too.
What are your learning goals and needs?
You can also think of this as what you’d like to achieve by using a learning platform. Are there compliance courses that you need to manage more efficiently? Are there skills lacking in your team that might be holding you back? Do you want your employees to have better access to resources in their daily workflow? It could be a combination of needs, so it’s important to recognise the most pressing and your overarching goals.
Where do your people want to learn and how do they do it best?
A combination of questions one and two, you’re really asking what methods of learning are best suited to your people and objectives.
If day or week-long courses have always been greeted by groans and struggles to stay awake by 4PM, you’re probably ready to try something new. Perhaps your learners are better suited to bite-sized content that they can access on-demand? Do you think all your night owls are going to be switched on for a 9AM session? They’ll probably learn best in the evening, at their own pace. Let’s not forget those early risers either, up hours before the workday starts and itching to be productive.
Devices and content types are just as important. If you’ve got plenty of commuters who enjoy literal learning journeys, you’ll need a platform with a mobile app. If they’re taking public transport, then guides and articles are great, but not so much if they’re driving to the office. Are there any podcasts or webinar recordings they could listen to on the way?
What’s your current strategy?
There must be something about it that’s led you here? Learn from it!
What’s working right now, and what do you need to improve? How much of that relates to your current learning platform or lack of one? There are bound to be things you’d do better or differently with another platform in place, so consider what those are. You don’t have to wait until you’ve found a new tool or system, there’ll be things you can act on now.
Are you growing?
We don’t mean to sound like the elderly relative you’ve not seen for a while, but have you grown? And how much bigger are you likely to get in the short and long term?
It’s all well and good picking a platform that fits your current learning needs, but you need to make sure it can scale with your company as it grows. Think about the number of employees, areas of the business that are likely to expand and how that might influence your learning strategy.
What’s your budget?
This is not the time for window shopping! We don’t want you to fall in love with a learning platform and then see the price tag. Set out your budget and search for options that fit within it.
The finer details: what are you looking for in a platform?
How quickly can you get up and running?
If you’re not in a rush this might seem less important, but it’s well worth considering the time it will take you to set up courses and pathways, begin reporting and get up to speed with all your other goals.
Of course, a lot of this depends on the learning resources you already have at your disposal and how much you’ll need to rely on the platform to provide content. Which leads us nicely onto…
What content is available on the platform?
Ideally, you’ll want to consider the quality of the curated content in a platform, how you’ll complement your own resources with it, and how easy it is for learners to find that content.
So, this is a big one. A lot of learning platforms find third-party content and make that available to your learners. Where are they getting it from, and how are they presenting it?
In HowNow, we surface free courses from the likes of Udemy and LinkedIn Learning, alongside insightful online resources from high-quality sites. They’re organised into channels by topic, which your learners can subscribe to, but they’ll also receive recommended content based on their skills and interests. The more they use the platforms, the more we use AI to understand their behaviour and their recommendations just keep getting better. And when they need to find something quickly, the search bar is always open!
Is it smart enough to drive self-directed learning?
Give someone a course and they’ll learn for a day, give someone a learning platform that recommends content and they’ll learn forever! If a platform has an intuitive user experience and taps into artificial intelligence to deliver relevant resources, your learners get a lot of value for minimal effort. What better way to encourage independent learning and limit change management?
Does it integrate with your other systems?
When your platforms talk to each other, it creates a better learning experience, so consider which of your current tools it needs to work in tandem with.
Finding platforms that play well with others prevents knowledge and data silos because that information is more useful when it can be accessed everywhere. This is how you create a continuous learning culture and the ability to learn in the workflow. Imagine being able to find resources in the same places that you interact with customers! Or share knowledge directly in your messaging tools.
Will it create social learning?
By this, we mean whether it empowers your people to share their knowledge and the resources they find with their colleagues?
Social learning not only helps connect the people in your business, but it also ensures your experts are sharing knowledge with everyone else. If someone in your sales team is a heavy hitter when it comes to closing deals, they can share tips that directly relate to their experiences in the business. This form of contextual knowledge is priceless in terms of learning and development.
It doesn’t have to be as complicated as this, it can be as simple as adding a helpful article to the learning platform for everyone else to enjoy. We don’t mean to brag, but we’ve got a browser extension that lets you do that directly in the resource in just a few clicks. Social made simple!
How detailed are the platform’s reporting and analytics?
This is key to understanding the platform’s impact on employee learning, skills developed and if you’ve achieved your goals.
It’s time to revisit your goals and determine what reporting capabilities you need to understand them. If it’s a case of developing skills, do you need a platform that enables both employer and employee to provide an assessment of proficiency? If compliance is a key goal, you might benefit from a dashboard that can be filtered by status. It’s important to consider how easy it is to create reports and whether the insights can be shared with your other platforms and people.
Will it make your life easier?
We’re ending on what’s probably the most obvious and important question!
Will this platform save you time, automate admin tasks that eat into your resources, and make your people more productive? If the answer’s no, it might not be the tool for you! But it’s key to understand how much time you have to invest in the platform and where it will help you free up valuable hours.
If it’s time to start discussing those issues, you can arrange a call with our team today!