Training, upskilling, and reskilling are all essential elements of the modern workplace. It’s rarely enough anymore for a professional to earn a single degree or certification and expect that to carry them through their entire career. Further, employers across many sectors are facing a skills gap that’s impeding growth and productivity.
Even the smallest startups must have a successful training and onboarding plan if they want to succeed. But early on, businesses often handle this on a one-on-one basis.
Once a company reaches a certain point of growth, this kind of ad hoc, one-on-one method quickly loses its effectiveness. Instead, companies need a better, more organized, more clearly defined solution for managing upskilling and reskilling initiatives, certifications, compliance, and various other types of training.
Enterprise learning management systems meet this need in the business marketplace.
What Are Enterprise Learning Management Systems? A Definition
Enterprise learning management systems help companies keep track of training efforts for employees (or even customers and external partners). The technology uses the same framework as any conventional learning management system (LMS) for the educational market. The primary difference, of course, is that an enterprise LMS meets the needs of the corporate world, not K-12 or collegiate education.
While specific functionality, UI, and design philosophy will differ, all enterprise learning management systems should share some central functions. So here’s our working definition:
Enterprise learning management systems house educational content for an organization and track the completion of that content for each user on the LMS platform. They also serve as the place where users complete that training and where assigned staff can evaluate learner progress and scores.
The content in an enterprise LMS could take a wide range of forms, from required onboarding training to compliance training to internal certifications and even continuing education credits.
Managers, HR, or other leaders can assign training modules to employees (or customers or vendors) and track their progress through whatever training they need to complete. Trainees can receive an overview of what they have achieved thus far, their current scores, and what they need to complete next.
Why Should Companies Consider Enterprise Learning Management Systems?
Advancement, skills refinement, and regulatory compliance are all top priorities of successful companies. Each of these areas requires time and effort, both for the trainee and the manager. These efforts also require documentation, sometimes in significant amounts.
Without a digital system for organizing content and tracking completion, companies must manually assign and track this kind of work. This manual work is a burden at multiple layers within the organization. Moreover, the larger the organization grows, the more difficult it becomes to manage these metrics manually.
Enterprise learning management systems solve the problem of organizing and tracking this training content and progress through the material.
Any organization that offers or plans to offer multiple training modules in a structured way to more than a handful of employees will benefit from implementing an enterprise LMS.
When a company implements an enterprise LMS correctly, the LMS offers a host of benefits. It will reduce time spent, increase the accuracy of tracking and reporting, and typically improve training completion rates. Most importantly, it reduces manual assigning and tracking to near zero.
How Do Enterprise Learning Management Systems Work?
An enterprise learning management system serves as the central location for all training and education efforts for a company or client. The content exists inside the LMS, and employees complete the interactive pieces of content within the system. Lastly, the LMS tracks progress and results as employees worth through courses and modules, giving managers, trainers, and HR access to employee progress.
There can be a good deal of variety in how various vendors conceptualize and build this functionality. But generally speaking, all enterprise learning management systems will include a front-end portal for “students” (in other words, employees) and a back-end portal for administrators (who could consist of supervisors and managers, corporate training managers, HR personnel, and the like).
The front end shows users what courses, modules, or segments they need to complete. It also shows their progress through multi-part courses as well as grades or scores for modules already completed.
The back end gives appropriate employees access to learner progress and scores. Trainers, managers, and others can also upload training content (or create it directly in the LMS) and assign work to the appropriate people. Corporate learning management systems also support the sourcing of content from various third parties, allowing trainers and managers to import successful learning materials they have created or purchased elsewhere. They can then integrate these resources into a broader training plan that incorporates freshly made content and prebuilt content from the LMS library.
Features, Functions, and Capabilities of Enterprise Learning Management Systems
Each enterprise learning management system takes its own spin on the concept, so not every enterprise LMS will offer precisely the same functionality. That said, across numerous systems, these are the most common features and functions you’ll find.
- Online course builder
- Support for a wide range of media types
- Interface that’s easy to use
- Tracking and reporting of learner activities (course completions, last access, total time spent, active courses, and much more)
- Analytics, both for individuals and department/division/companywide
- Ability to import prebuilt courses in standard formats
- Task automation
- Customized learning paths
- Support for instructor-led training
- Integrations with top business software (CRMs, HR management software)
In addition, the best enterprise LMSes also include many of these elements:
- Library of prebuilt learning content
- Support for informal learning (and metrics on it as well)
- Social components (e.g., user-managed Q&A space)
- Responsive, mobile-friendly design where appropriate
- Sandboxed accounts for hands-on experimentation and learning
- A dedicated customer success manager
- Mobile learning with offline support
Enterprise Use Cases for Learning Management Systems
An enterprise learning management system is beneficial for many businesses (of various sizes, too). But that doesn’t mean that every single business necessarily needs one. An enterprise LMS is an investment, and so it needs to solve a business need to be worth the cost.
Here are several use cases for enterprise learning management systems. If one would help your business, you’ll likely identify with one of the use cases below — or perhaps a close parallel.
Many companies rely on significant amounts of training as a part of the onboarding process. However, when left to individual managers, the quality and consistency of this training can vary widely. An enterprise LMS is an ideal way to centralize the needed training for various positions within the company, ensuring that every employee in a particular role gets precisely the training they need.
Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?
- Your organization relies on internal staff development to fill senior roles.
- You’re a part of a mature organization that needs to upskill or reskill existing staff.
- You have underperforming employees or skills gaps between what employees know how to do and what you need them to do.
- You have managers that know how to do what their department does (but don’t know how to manage).
- You have managers that know how to manage but don’t understand the departments they’re leading.
The solution for all these scenarios and countless variations on them is training. Some of this will be on-the-job or ad hoc training, of course. But much of it can be organized, systematized, and tracked using an enterprise LMS. And again, by using an enterprise LMS, you increase efficiency and ensure that all similar employees receive a consistent message.
If you have a tightly designed sales model, there’s no reason for individual senior sales reps to impart that knowledge to the new hires. Instead, you can put richer, fuller, more dynamic sales training into an LMS, ensuring that your preferred method reaches all new hires equally.
Compliance and HR/Legal Training
Compliance is an essential issue in many industries, including healthcare, finance, and education. If you’re legally obligated to show that your workforce has learned something, you certainly want to provide that training in a system where it can be automatically tracked and logged.
Even if you’re not in a compliance-heavy industry, there are still numerous legal-related concerns that some in your company need to learn about to keep your business protected. Conducting interviews is one example: there are many illegal interview questions, including some fundamental ones like not asking about age or religion, yet hiring managers keep asking these questions at alarming rates.
If your organization regularly offers (or needs to start offering) training to specific categories of employees for compliance or HR/legal training reasons, an enterprise learning management system can bring order to the chaos.
Numerous vendors offer enterprise learning management systems, both as standalone products and as part of a broader suite of applications. After reviewing many of these, we’ve narrowed the field down to the top 10 corporate or enterprise learning management systems. In the sections below, you’ll find information on each of these vendors, plus links to each one if you want to learn more.