Evolution or Extinction?

Is It Time to Use Your LMS Outside of the L&D Silo

To Make It Worthwhile Across the Enterprise?

Over the last two years, the rapid consolidation of the talent management market and the rise of informal and social learning within organizations around the world has prompted discussions about the relevance of Learning Management Systems (LMSs) in today’s corporate learning, performance, and workforce support programs.

Ask Google the question “is the LMS dead?” or type in “death of the LMS” and you will get a combined total of almost three quarters of a million search results. And this is by no means a unique count of references to contemplations about the role of Learning Management Systems nowadays.


So, is the LMS dying? Far from it. According to the Brandon Hall Group, demand for LMS solutions has been higher in 2011 than ever before. But the role of the LMS within organizations is clearly evolving across a numberof very important aspects:

1) LMS implementations are moving from the departmental to the enterprise level and beyond, addressing learning & performance support needs of what is known as the extended enterprise – the value chain of suppliers, partners, dealers, resellers, and customers.

2) The ROI of LMS is increasingly changing from learningrelated metrics (e.g. % of courses completed, time to complete a learning program across a division) to business-related ones (e.g. incremental revenues achieved, operational cost savings attained) involving not just L&D executives, but also CIOs, CFOs, and legal & compliance officers among others.

3) The key driver for deploying sophisticated LMSs is and will continue to be compliance. With the rise of regulatory requirements (for example title 21 CFR part 11 that covers electronic records and electronic signatures) as well as the adoption of best practices by companies worldwide, corporate training is at the forefront of these initiatives.

4) Some innovative LMSs are starting to expand beyond course catalogues and towards learning at the point of need by integrating social learning environments, supporting mobile learning models, and delivering performance support.

5) In essence, the role of the LMS is not expected to be that of a destination anymore, but that of a service that is easily integrated into portals, corporate Intranets, Knowledge Management Systems, Talent Management Systems, and HR Management Systems.


We repeatedly have conversations with organizations about interesting / unconventional / innovative ways they use their LMS for. Here are some of the cases that have come up:

1) An airline is using the LMS for Dangerous Goods Handling (DGH) compliance training. When an employee fails to complete the required training on time, the LMS revokes security clearance so that the employee is automatically locked out of the airport’s goods handling areas and a manager is notified for further action.

2) An insurance provider used their LMS to co-ordinate swine flu vaccinations for all their employees. The company created a class called “Flu Vaccination” that was available on certain dates & places, and they were able to successfully track the vaccinations of over 7,000 employees in just two weekends.

3) An electrical equipment distributor is using their LMS to manage temporary employee transfers between their different locations. They do that by using the course enrollment policy workflow to initiate a transfer request, communicate the reason of the transfer to the respective manager, and notify transfer approvals to the HR & Finance departments.

4) A financial services provider is using their LMS to co-ordinate their regular Investor Relations events by creating courses for the different sessions, assigning investor-related materials to these courses, and tracking registrations to these courses for all the required stakeholders.

5) An automotive parts provider is using their LMS to manage their franchise network, certify franchisees, collect franchise fees, and perform equipment audits.

6) An airline is using an LMS for disaster volunteer coordination by matching people to different volunteering activities and assigning relevant workflows to take action when disaster strikes.

So, it’s time to rely on your LMS to break out of the L&D silo and make this investment worthwhile across the enterprise. Evaluate business needs, consider the reach of the system inside & outside of the enterprise, rethink workflows, revisit unused functionality, consult with your vendor. Don’t stay still. Evolve or be extinct!

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