Implementing a learning management system – lessons learned

The implementation of a learning management system (LMS) has its own set of project management challenges. Having implemented two LMSs – each very different in their nature and complexity – I have learnt six critical lessons to maximise success and minimise the challenges.

Lesson 1 – Start with the right picture

The foundation of each project is having the correct picture of training in the organisation. The picture of training includes a detailed description of the roles and requirements of the learners, trainers and managers, and the IT infrastructure. It provides sufficient information to create a set of business requirements that define both the outcomes and processes the LMS should provide.

This picture and business requirements are the basis for selecting the LMS and for decision making during the implementation.

Lesson 2 – Own it

Sponsorship and ownership of an LMS implementation project should be with the Learning and Development department, not IT. These departments can have different priorities which will significantly impact decisions, communication and reporting.

Lesson 3 – Pick the right team

It is difficult to create the right project team for selecting and implementing an LMS because other work related tasks and activities are ongoing. The project manager and team are critical to a smooth process and meeting milestones. The key member of the team, the project manager, must also be a project champion.

Lesson 4 – Know before you go

Learn as much as possible about selecting and implementing an LMS before the project commences. This will help with the development of the project description and realistic cost and time estimates. Some useful resources are available from this web site – click on the Resources tab.

Lesson 5 – Know the ‘must haves’

Very few LMS applications will meet all your requirements, or at least in the way you want them to be organised. To include them all can also lead to a complex tender process. The business analysis and project scope need to clearly define and support a set of priorities.

Lesson 6 – Test and test again

When trialling or testing an LMS, test it in the manner in which it will truly be used. Develop a set of stories or scenarios that represent what learners, trainers and managers will want to know or do.


The six lessons described here are critical for implementing an LMS. It begins with a clear and complete understanding of training in the organisation and a project owner that is also a project champion. Knowledge about LMS applications and a clear understanding of the ‘must haves’ support the decision making throughout the project. The right project manager will provide an effective and efficient process. Testing that is thorough and contextualised will help deliver a product that quickly gains organisation-wide support.

Read the complete article in the AITD magazine, Training and Development, June 2013 at

– Bronte

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